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Jiviní in Juneau
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It’s been a very exciting couple of weeks here in Juneau! As the chair of the House Education committee, I’ve been deluged with visits by students, parents, school board members and superintendents from every corner of Alaska. I met with folks from the Northwest Arctic Borough, Glennallen, Chugach, Nenana, Unalaska, Bering Strait, Wrangell, Kodiak, Copper River, Denali Borough, Sitka, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Southwest Region, Delta-Greeley, Cordova, University of Alaska Alumni, professors and students, and of course the Anchorage School District. There was a common sentiment among all these folks-- that schools in Alaska are scraping to get by with their current funding, and any more cuts to education will only further deprive our children of learning opportunities and success in life. I will do all I can to avoid cuts to schools in Alaska. Our children deserve quality public education, and cannot put their education on hold until the adults in the state get their budget act together.
The Alaska Points of Youth Leadership Institute is offering a leadership camp from March 13-17th for any middle or high schoolers who want to be leaders in their community. The course includes training in volunteer services, community engagement, and civic action. For more information contact Beau at firstname.lastname@example.org
In other news our office has been paying close attention to the development of the cannabis industry in Anchorage. It seems to be more difficult for entrepreneurs to start their business in our city than in other parts of the state. Some Anchorage cannabis license holders are being delayed because of land use regulations that are preventing them from getting their businesses started.
The cannabis industry is in its infancy and it is my job as a State Representative to make sure a new industry an opportunity succeed in our state, to create jobs and tap into a new source of revenue. We are committed to working on the issues the industry still faces and want cannabis businesses to blossom.
In addition to House Education, I serve on House Resources, Transportation, and Community & Regional Affairs. In Resources I’m learning about the oil industry and working on a major piece of legislation, HB111, that addresses several issues in the state’s oil tax regime. Agriculture is another growth area for Alaska, as we produce only about five percent of the food we eat here in the state.
Last week we wrapped up subcommittee work on the budget. In Transportation we learned how the Department of Transportation functions all across this huge state, maintaining several thousand miles of roads, hundreds of bridges, over 240 airports, dozens of ports, and connects coastal communities to the rest of the state via the Alaska Marine Highway System, otherwise known as the Alaska State Ferries.
In Community and Regional Affairs, we delved into the Public Safety department as well as Corrections. Our state troopers number fewer than Anchorage’s police department and are having a difficult time keeping Alaskans safe in our communities and on the road system. Corrections is developing systems, put in place through Senate Bill 91 last year, to reduce the number of incarcerated Alaskans and reduce recidivism. Did you know that 65% of Alaska’s mental health services are delivered in our prisons? That is not a statistic to be proud of but this population needs to be handled carefully with the needs of the public kept uppermost.
I’ll report on bills we have passed in the next Drummond Dispatch, and as the budget develops and new revenues are explored.
Want to talk to your police department?
The Anchorage Police Department is holding two Town Hall meetings.
The first is March 2nd at the Spenard Recreation Center from 5:30-7:30 pm.
The second is March 23rd at the Chugiak Eagle River Senior Center from 6-8 pm.
These will be casual, open, informational town halls where residents will have the opportunity to hear from APD and ask questions.
If people have questions about these town halls contact Nora Morse at email@example.com
I’ll Be Home on Saturday!
And if you want to talk to me in Anchorage, I’ll be there this weekend. The district I constituent meeting, will be held at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office located at 1500 W. Benson, on the southeast corner of Minnesota and Benson. Please come to the LIO anytime between 10am and noon to share your opinion. I hope to see as many of you there as possible! And there WILL be doughnuts.