MAY 8, 2014
Representing District 17:
Midtown, University, and East Anchorage
I Answer to You!
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716 4th Ave, Room 390
Anchorage, AK 99501
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2014 In-Review & First Week Back
East High Assembly & Office Update
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I believe that the 2014 session was very successful with a couple glaring exceptions. I call the session successful for the following reasons:
- Members of the majority wanted to privatize education with a voucher system. It failed because of the strong opposition of Democrats and moderate Republicans working together.
- Members of the majority wanted to permanently change the way the Governor appoints judges in the State. Had this effort been successful it would have impacted every issue touching our daily lives. This effort failed, again, because of the efforts of the Democrats and the moderate Republicans.
- The most draconian anti-environmental bill, HB 77, failed. This bill would have undermined the effort of regular Alaskans to participate in the governmental process. It would have removed key requirements allowing Alaskans to have notice and an opportunity to be heard as to, among other things, the use and access of publically available water. It also would have seriously expanded the unilateral power of the commissioner of Natural Resources.
- I was happy with the failure to usurp the public minimum wage initiative with a “fake” minimum wage bill (HB 384). Because this bill failed, the public will get to vote on a more lasting minimum wage bill in the general election.
Regarding the omnibus education bill, although there has been an increase in funding, I opposed the education bill because:
- It strips power from local school districts to decide when, where, and how to operate charter schools.
- It could result in the stripping away of the power over wages and benefits traditionally set by local school boards.
- It unconstitutionally uses tax credits for private and religious schools.
- It grossly underfunds public education. A $425 increase of the BSA was needed and the schools only received a $226 BSA equivalent increase. Because of the hard work of public school advocates, including the Great Alaska Schools coalition, I feel that the education debate was a “moral” victory, though not an actual victory.
In conclusion, the influence of Democrats and moderate Republicans was completely and totally outsized by their numbers. In effect the minority could claim, in some respects, to have “won” the session.
First Week Back
|Presenting the East High Softball team with a citation commemorating their State Championship victory in 2013.
On April 30th my aide John Church and I had the honor of presenting the East High girls softball team with a citation, co-sponsored by Senator Gardner, commemorating them for going undefeated and winning the State Championship in 2013! Principal Sam Spinella invited us to attend East’s quarterly assembly and it was invigorating!
There is nothing quite like waking up and going to see 2,000+ high school students celebrate the accomplishments and diversity of their school. The assembly included a very well-choreographed revision of Michael Jackson’s Thriller by some of the East High teachers and the use of the East High Spirit Stick. For those of you who do not know, when the Spirit Stick is pointed at a group of students they cheer as wildly as possible. Here is a video that Representative Les Gara took on his IPhone:
Office Update: During the 2013 and 2014 session, Meghan Cavanaugh served as my aide, but has since moved on to take a job with the re-election campaign of U.S. Senator Mark Begich. I wish her the best of luck with her new endeavor!
My new aide is John Church who served as my intern during the 2014 session. John is a recent political science graduate from UAA and a lifelong Alaskan. His family came to Alaska as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal Program and to this day his family owns and operates the family farm. Please help me welcome him to the office!
As always, please call or email with any thoughts, ideas, or concerns.
I Answer to You!
Representative Andy Josephson
716 4th Ave, Room 390