Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The House Democratic and Independent Caucus has a vision for Alaska’s future: well-educated kids; protection of seniors and vulnerable citizens; universal access to affordable health care; and a fairly compensated state workforce to provide the essential services we demand. We’re working to keep Alaska a great place to live, work, and raise kids.
But all the Republican majorities seem to say is “we can’t afford it” every time an idea they don’t like comes up. They’ll eliminate much of what we like about living in Alaska, get us no closer to a long-term, sustainable fiscal plan, and use up our remaining cash reserves. That’s not acceptable. We can do better.
We’ve met with Governor Walker’s mediator; the House and Senate Republican majorities have not. We want to work this out, but we can’t do it alone. Negotiation requires two willing parties.
The Republican majorities oppose Medicaid expansion, even though it would reduce the amount Alaska pays now for medical care, inject welcome federal dollars into the state’s economy, create thousands of jobs, provide health care coverage to tens of thousands of Alaskans who don’t have any, and, most importantly, advance a program an impressive majority of Alaskans wants.
The Republican Senate majority opposes giving raises to state employees, but this is year three of a three-year package of legally negotiated contracts. Our good faith would be seriously jeopardized if we went back on that deal. And if the state of Alaska becomes known as an entity whose word is no good, our credit rating will suffer. The search for partners and funding for important projects such as a natural gas pipeline will be harder. Keeping up our end of the state employee agreements is good for the long term.
The Republican majorities think it’s reasonable to cut education budgets in response to a budget shortfall, but delaying some tax credits to oil companies a month or two is not. They think expensive legislative office space is justifiable. We disagree. Our caucus believes everyone needs to play a role. State agencies. Legislators. Citizens. And yes, even the oil companies – the wealthiest corporations in history.
We’re ready to find a mutually agreeable end to this year’s impasse, knowing full well next year will present even tougher challenges. What are they going to do? Fold their arms tighter and stick out their chins further? That’s no way to build a long-term fiscal plan. Let’s sit down together and figure this out.
Public Comment Open on Proposed Marijuana Regulations
The Alcohol Beverage Control Board and the Department of Community, Commerce and Economic Development are looking for public comment on the first set of proposed marijuana regulations.
These regulations deal with definitions as well as location options for communities to “opt-out” of having certain kinds of marijuana establishments. To read the proposed regulations click here.
Public comments are due June 20th, 2015 by 4:30pm. You can e-mail your comments to email@example.com, hard copy mail to John Calder, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, 550 W.7th Ave, Suite 1600, Anchorage, AK 99501 or via the online public notices system by visiting aws.state.ak.us/OnlinePublicNotices/Notices/View.aspx?id=176982
If you have any questions regarding these proposed regulations or how to comment, please call John Calder at (907) 754-3427.
The Department of Transportation recently announced it was looking into selling the Fox Springs. DOT’s reasoning for the action is based upon three factors: the well is no longer naturally producing, well operations are outside of DOT’s job duties, and with looming budget cuts DOT can no longer afford to keep the well going.
I have to disagree with DOT’s justification. Many Interior residents use this well, as I did when I lived up on Skyridge in the 70’s. It has become a public resource and DOT has a lot of these projects that it keeps going, despite being outside its duties.
DOT has promised to hold a public hearing on the issue and I will keep everyone notified of that meeting. When it is announced, please pass along the information. DOT needs to hear from users, as well as have the opportunity to have an open discussion about their plan.
Alaska LNG Pipeline Community Open House
The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation and partners will be in Fairbanks next week for a community open house on the large scale export LNG line known as Alaska LNG.
Date: Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Location: Westmark Hotel, 813 Noble Street
Join anytime between 6:00 and 8:00 pm for recent information about the project and refreshments. For more information call (855) 550-5445 or visit www.ak-lng.com
Thank you for reading and please feel free to call my office and share your ideas.