Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The Capitol is humming with activity these days. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with many of my constituents and folks around the state on topics that matter to Alaska. I deeply appreciate those who take the time to engage with state government.
Budget & Fiscal Plan
Front and center, of course, is completing an operating budget and solving our fiscal crisis. The former will happen because the Alaska Constitution requires the legislature to pass an annual budget. The latter—our fiscal crisis—will not be fixed until such time as the State Senate believes having a fiscal plan is important. It must then tell the House—and Alaskans—what it proposes. So far, neither has happened.
Funding Education Funds Our Future
The House Majority is co-sponsoring HB 287, which would fund our teachers using the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund. This would remove the uncertainty teachers face when the budget gets hung up in the Senate. Such critical members of our community and workforce shouldn’t feel the threat of pink-slips looming over them every spring.
The bill passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 33 to 5. The funding component failed to get the additional three-fourths vote required, but the bill made it to the Senate.
Standing Committees & Finance Subcommittees
I Co-Chair the House Natural Resources Committee and serve on the House Labor & Commerce Committee. Both committees have had active and busy calendars.
I served on the House Finance Subcommittees for: The Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development; The Department of Labor; The Department of Natural Resources; The Department of Revenue; and I am the alternate on the University of Alaska Finance Subcommittee.
Subcommittees have closed out their budget recommendations and those have been forwarded to the full House Finance Committee for its consideration.
The House Resources Committee heard and amended our committee’s spill bill, HB 322. When oil and refined fuels as well as other toxins are spilled, Alaska law has a “schedule of fines and penalties” to act as a deterrent. Those fines and penalties have not been changed since—for some of them—as long ago as 1977. What a $1 would buy in 1977, it now takes much more to purchase. Laws that have fixed penalties and fees and that are 41 years old need updating. The House Finance Committee will hear HB 322 next.
House Community & Regional Affairs passed my plastic bag bill (HB 264) out of committee with a couple amendments, the most notable being an exemption for our rural communities with less than 5,500 residents.
My refugee resolution (HJR 30) also passed out of House Community & Regional Affairs. This resolution reaffirms our commitment to providing aid to refugees in need. This doesn’t detract from our own citizens; it just acts as a statement of principle of our generosity to those who are in dire situations elsewhere in the world.
The Tangle Lakes Game Refuge bill (HB 272) will be heard in House Fisheries this week. If you would like to testify, please get in touch! This bill would protect 164,000 acres for recreation, hunting and fishing, subsistence use, and tourism.
Arts & Business Leadership
Delbert Cederberg, a constituent of mine, is this year’s recipient of the Governor’s Arts and Humanities Awards for Arts Business Leadership. Delbert is the owner and founder of Allied Steel, and has volunteered his metalworking skills to build habitats for the Alaska Zoo, transform the Mountain View Lions Community Park, and maintain Arctic Valley infrastructure for the Anchorage Ski Club. He has also helped produce various sculptures that we see across Anchorage.
Anchorage Caucus This Weekend
Join me, along with our Anchorage Senators and Representatives, for the annual Anchorage Caucus this Saturday. Bring your ideas, questions, comments, and concerns – we look forward to hearing you!
Saturday, March 3rd, 2018
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.
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!