Category - Rep. Les Gara

Note from Rep. Gara: Taking Your Marbles & Going Home? Tsk Tsk. The Budget & Higher Ed Scholarship Debate

This week we are debating the operating budget. It’s roughly 4% higher than last year, and while I work in a GOP-controlled House, I also believe in trying to find common ground when I can. I don’t believe in the worst we see from Washington, D.C., where many members reflexively oppose measures sponsored by members of the opposite party. If you want knee jerk politics, there are plenty of people nationally you can idolize. Those people – whether on the state level, or in Congress where folks constantly filibuster to prevent votes and debate, and the ability for compromise, get nothing done. And they harm the constituents they take an oath to represent.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Home Energy Upgrade $; Controversial Bills; Corporate Election $pending News & Um, HELP!!!

I just wanted to give you a quick update on some of the things we are working on in Juneau. And for those of you who missed last week’s constituent meeting held by our and Senator Ellis’ office – but have questions or concerns – please let us know. I’ll give the hard questions to Johnny. Kidding Johnny. Just kidding. There are two controversial bills that I want to share some information on. First, on HJR 16 the House Finance Committee will take public testimony on a proposed constitutional amendment to use state money to pay for private schools.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Double Standard? Guv Freezes School Funding, but Grants Inflation Increases to Every Other State Agency

While I look for common ground with our Governor - like our efforts to keep pushing to find ways to build a natural gas pipeline (we agree a large diameter line that exports gas, produces low-cost gas, and brings in revenue is smarter than a small in-state line that brings us very high cost natural gas and no revenue) - I do disagree with him on educational policy.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Attempting a 99 Yard Touchdown Pass- Time to Push a Constitutional Amendment To $top Unlimited Campaign Contribution$ By Corporation$ & Billionaire$

This election season has been dominated by millions of dollars from unregulated “Super-PACS” – funded by billionaires and corporations because, well, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled they can now make unlimited contributions. Well, this might be crazy, but I think ideas – and not massive wealth by those corporations and billionaires who want to drown out your voice – should decide elections. Unfortunately, given a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, today the wealthiest people in the nation, corporations, and unions can now make unlimited contributions to support or defeat candidates.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Holiday Laptop Drive a Success, So We’re Extending It Another 364 Days! And Other Volunteer Opportunities.

I hope you’re having a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and all around good holiday season. And I wanted to let you in on some good holiday news (and one more volunteer opportunity you might like). Here’s what you don’t want to know. I also found out how long it takes to work off a typical Christmas and Holiday dinner, cookie and bowls of pistachio nut diet. That’s what I’d classify as annoying news. So, really, why dwell on it. I’ll just take this one for the team, suffer alone, and keep that information to myself. And... I will be off to the gym after we get this letter out.

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Note from Rep. Gara: 2nd Annual Holiday Laptops for Foster Youth Drive – Improving One Life At A Time

This week we are launching our second annual "Laptops for Foster Youth Drive". Since last year we have matched over 60 youth with good, late model used and new laptops. Youth have used these laptops for school, to transport pictures of their families and friends, and to lead a life that more closely resembles those of their peers outside of foster care. If you have a quality used, or new laptop you’d like to donate, please let us know, and we’ll help you make someone’s life better! The criteria for the laptops we are looking for is at the end of the e-mail. If you want to donate funds to purchase one or more laptops, we can help arrange that too.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Hurdle Cleared: Oil Development in National Petroleum Reserve Moving Forward

Who knows what impact public comment ever has? You hope it matters, so you comment. That’s why this spring I and others wrote an array of federal officials to say that ConocoPhillips' proposed development in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska (NPR-A) was in Alaska's and the nation's interests. When the US Army Corps of Engineers effectively blocked oil development there by denying a needed bridge permit, I was concerned. I spoke to my colleagues about writing a letter explaining that production was falling on the North Slope, and access to this area, reserved for oil development, was crucial to our efforts to stem and hopefully reverse the decline in North Slope oil production.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Glass Recycling is Back- Anchorage About to Enter the 21st Century on Recycling!

Most glass recycling was suspended at the beginning of 2009. I was happy to learn (thanks to my aide Rose Foley) that Target stores are collecting glass in Anchorage! The store has collection containers located along the side of their buildings next to the dumpsters at both the South Anchorage and Muldoon locations. While glass recycling efforts stopped because of the excessive cost of shipping heavy glass from Anchorage to the Lower 48, Target is able to use empty space on barge container bins that deliver their goods to Anchorage, but would otherwise leave Anchorage nearly empty. They back-haul the glass to their sorting center in Oregon. We weren’t able to find any other glass recycling options in Anchorage, so let us know if there are others we missed.

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