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Senator Lisa Murkowski,
Senator Dan Sullivan,
Congressman Don Young,
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It has been an exciting week for me as I have seen years of work come to fruition when two pieces of legislation I sponsored were signed into law:
Bree’s Law -Teen Dating Violence Prevention Education
On Wednesday Governor Walker signed House Bill 214 to name Alaska’s teen dating violence awareness and prevention program after Bree Moore who was killed in a senseless act of dating violence in 2014.
Bree’s parents, Butch and Cindy Moore have worked selflessly to put a human name and face to Alaska’s teen dating violence prevention program in order to help prevent any more young Alaskans from suffering the tragic fate of their daughter.
“Parents don’t get to determine the fate of their children. If it were so, I would never have chosen a violent death for my daughter at the hands of a man she trusted. Her death was preventable, but she didn’t know how to recognize and deal with dating violence. Thankfully, Bree’s life and death are being used as an example to help prevent future acts of violence. Bree’s mother and I take solace in that,” said Butch Moore.
House Bill 214 passed the Alaska State Senate in May by a unanimous vote of 19-0. The bill unanimously passed the Alaska House of Representatives in February, and the House then voted 39-1 to concur with the changes made by the State Senate.
HB 64 – Reading Proficiency and Dyslexia Task Force
On Thursday Governor Walker signed HB 64 into law. At no cost to the public, HB 64 establishes a twelve member task force on reading proficiency and dyslexia with the goal of increasing statewide reading proficiency scores within three years. Approximately 47,000 students in Alaska did not meet state standards in 2015.
Students who cannot read by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school than those who can read. More than $60 billion is lost annually in American business productivity due to a lack of basic reading skills.
Almost all children, even those with dyslexia and other challenges can become excellent readers, but this may require a different approach than standard teaching methods
The task force will investigate the latest research on how children learn to read, and study ways to put this knowledge into practice.
Literacy opens up a world of knowledge, opportunity, and enjoyment. It helps children succeed in life and contribute to our state and economy.
EDUCATION FUNDING UPDATE
In past years, school districts have been unable to properly plan the upcoming school year on time because the state budget runs on a different schedule than that of schools. This occurred most recently last year when school districts statewide had to send out pink slips to teachers on the last day of school because the state budget hadn’t been completed.
Combined with cuts in wages and benefits, this has contributed to severe problems in filling school vacancies. Fortunately we were able to find agreement on Education this year. We ensured that education is funded in both FY19 and FY20. This ends instability in education funding for the next two years.
We also passed one-time increases to education of $20 million in FY19 and $30 million in FY20. Adjusted for inflation, classroom funding for teachers and support staff has fallen by $90 million since the 2014 legislative session. Alaska has lost well over 500 teachers and other school staff.
These one-time increases will help us to hold the line on the deep cuts our schools have suffered.
Thank you for taking a moment to read my updates.
As always, please call or email with any thoughts, ideas, or concerns.