Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome back! My staff and I are already very hard at work for you in this second week of the 2nd session of the 30th State Legislature. This session is off to a very busy start, jammed with meetings, deadlines, and duties.
Hot off the press are my two new pre-filed bills:
- The Tangle Lakes Game Refuge (HB 272) would protect 164,000 acres in the Tangle Lakes area (near Paxson off the Denali Highway) for recreation, hunting and fishing, subsistence use, and tourism.
- A plastic bag fee (HB 264) is the first step in helping reduce statewide plastic consumption and waste, following the lead from several Alaskan towns, including Bethel, Cordova, Fairbanks, Homer, and Wasilla (which just passed a ban this month). Bags are detrimental to our wildlife (and subsequently our health), our environment, and our economy (i.e., tourism).
You can review a complete list of my bills here.
Other Topics at the Forefront
- The House Resources Committee that I co-chair will be hearing a new oil tax bill, HB288, that I have co-sponsored with the other co-chair, Rep. Geran Tarr. This bill would raise the minimum tax on oil and gas produced on the North Slope to help close Alaska’s persistent budget gap that has been draining our savings accounts alarmingly quickly.
- Last year’s oil and gas tax credit bill (HB111) established a Working Group charged with providing to the full legislature recommendations for improving Alaska’s oil and gas tax regime, the most complex regime in the country and perhaps in the world. I serve as a member of that working group.
- My bill (HB105) that would protect wolves on state land adjacent to Denali National Park passed the House last spring and this week has been referred to the Senate Resources Committee. I will request a hearing in that committee, but I cannot be optimistic about the prospect of this bill progressing in the Senate.
- Later this month, I’ll introduce a bill that would increase the penalties for oil spills, which have not been updated since 1989, immediately after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. This is a House Resources Committee bill, and may be supported by the administration.
- To bring Alaska into compliance with the federal Dodd-Frank financial reform act, I will soon introduce a bill that would regulate Appraisal Management Companies, thus facilitating mortgage lending for buyers, sellers and Alaska businesses.
- House Bill 15 addresses gendered language regarding marital status and replaces them with neutral terms. This bill will provide an amendment that will clarify that a “husband” or a “wife” are “spouses” and that two spouses may or may not be of the same gender. HB 15 makes explicit the rights already given to same-sex couples in the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court Case (Obergefell). I’m proud to push this, and other legislation that helps protect the constitutional rights of all Alaskans.
- In response to troubling statements from the Trump Administration, I introduced House Bill 13, which prohibits our state and municipal governments from participating in implementing a registry based on “race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.” It’s important that our state legislature act proactively on this front. The bill will be heard again next week and I hope to move it out of committee and debate the issue on the House Floor.
To testify on any of the above bills, contact my office and keep an eye out for the bill on akleg.gov.
An Olympian Visit
Keegan Messing, the Girdwood-born Canadian-American Olympic skater, paid us a visit at the State Capitol last Friday, January 19th.
Vote by Mail in Anchorage
This April, Anchorage will have its first municipal Vote by Mail election. Vote by Mail will allow more Anchorage residents to participate in local elections, giving more voters the ability to weigh in on the decisions that impact their quality of life.
What Are the Benefits of Vote by Mail Elections?
- Keeps regular voters engaged.
- Encourages new voter participation.
- Allows for time and convenience when the voter fills out their ballot.
- Presents no partisan advantage.
- Protects voters' right to a secret ballot.
- Uses signature verification to arrest attempts at voting fraud.
Vote by Mail is as easy as 1 – 2 – 3!
- Fill out your ballot in the convenience of your own home using trusted resources.
- Sign the voter declaration on the back of the return envelope.
- Return your ballot by mail using first class postage, return it to a Secure Drop Box location, or return it to an Accessible Vote Center.
- Midtown Congestion Relief (MCR) Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study, Public Open House #1: January 30 from 3:00-7:00 PM at the Loussac Library. Click here for additional details.
Face-to-face interaction between constituents and legislators promotes responsive government. I work for you, and I always want to hear—and respond to—your suggestions, questions, comments and criticisms. You can email or phone me anytime.
My Session Staff
cross-country skier, reader, writer, laugher, friend-keeper
oceanographer, environmental advocate, outdoor enthusiast, super proud dog-owner
Sporting polyglot, diplomat, avid shower singer, resident extrovert
If you have a topic or event that you would like to see in my next newsletter, feel free to get in touch with me or my staff. Please make note that my office will be based in Juneau until May.
And as always, please call or email with any thoughts, ideas, or concerns.
I answer to you!