Dear Friends & Neighbors:
This week is expected to be our final week in session and we have passed out some key pieces of legislation. Below is a summary:
SB 26: Permanent Fund Protection Act:
We listened to and addressed much of the public’s concerns in the new version of SB 26 which passed out on Monday. This version of SB 26 limits the amount the Legislature could withdraw from the fund. The funds will be used to pay for both public services and Permanent Fund Dividends.
SB 26 protects the PFD by restricting spending from the Permanent Fund and stabilizing state revenue. Without SB 26, a future Legislature could take out an unrestricted amount from the Permanent Fund jeopardizing its stability and the future of dividends. SB 26 is simply a spending cap on the Permanent Fund. It is nothing more than that, but it is important for Alaska’s future.
The conference committee on the operating budget finished up its meetings earlier this week. It will now go to the floor for a vote. Here are key points in the budget:
House Finance is currently hearing the Senate’s version of the Capital Budget which, after passing it will head to the House Floor for a vote. I added $200,000 for expanding the Goldstream Public Use Area. This will help connect disconnected parcels of land in the current public use area along with improving the trail system. It will be a benefit to all of Fairbanks.
As a final update, HB 240: Pharmacy Benefits Managers, unanimously passed out of the Senate on Monday. It will now go to the Governor for a signature. Similar iterations of HB 240 have gone through the Legislature over the last decade but failed. I am glad to say that it has finally passed. We will lower prescription drug costs and keep local pharmacies in business because of this.
Today, President Trump announced similar changes in federal policy. I am hopeful that he will follow through with these promises and that this issue finally receives the bipartisan support it deserves at both the state and federal levels.
HB 355: FIRE; FOREST LAND; CRIMES; FIRE PREVENTION:
HB 355 passed out of the Senate yesterday with a 15-4 vote. Today, the House agreed to the changes made in the Senate and the bill is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. This will increase public safety in Alaska and decrease occurrences of wildfires and the damage that comes with them.
My political career began at the Laborers 942 union when I was talking about all the jobs in Alaska going south. Someone put their finger on my chest and told me to “shut up or do something about it.” I chose to do something and got involved.
On Tuesday night, I called in to the Laborers 942 union, local monthly meeting to announce that I will not be seeking re-election. As a retired member of Local 942, I wanted to end where I started. The working men and women of Alaska have always been my foundation and I’ve kept their interests in mind with every vote. You can see the video of my speech here.
Thank you to those who supported me throughout the years. Most importantly, thank you to the people of Districts 8, 38, and 4 (the three districts I represented over the last 16 years). It is an honor to represent you. Though the job ends in January, I will continue advocating for and representing you. Even after January, I will continue working for better broadband, healthcare, education and a stronger Alaska.
Proud to Serve District 4: Ester, Goldstream 1 & 2, Steese East/Gilmore, Steese West, and University Hills