Note from Rep. Gara: End of Session Inching Closer. Or Not.

Sunday is the official end of session, but there have been tensions between the House Speaker – who gave a speech suggesting a possible extended session – and Senate leaders. Presently, since I have learned over the past nine years that I can’t change any of the minds that will make that decision, I’m walking around those folks in a ducking position and looking right and left a lot to make sure I don’t end up in crossfire.

Except – I did end up in crossfire yesterday, first in a fight over the Governor’s scholarship bill, and then on a last minute move that took increased K-12 education funding out of a bill last night.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Big Wins and Thank Yous on Medicare, Foster Care Bills

A big thanks to Senators Bettye Davis and Hollis French! This year we teamed up with them on our foster care and Medicare legislation. We filed our version on the House side, and they worked hard with us agreeing to file parallel pieces of legislation on the Senate side. Senator Davis has been a leader on children’s issues for a long time, and Senator French has emerged as a leader on getting more Alaskans health coverage. Oh. And thanks to my summer aide, and Facing Foster Care in Alaska Coordinator Amanda Metivier, for writing much of the foster care legislation; and to my aide Rose Foley for working hand in hand with me on this.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Dear Governor: Who’s Threatening the Alaska Economy?

Today amendments and debate will start on the Governor’s oil tax rollback bill in the House Finance Committee – where I have to run in a few minutes. I’d like to update you on that, a potential crisis in education funding that has school districts gagging with worry, and a few of my bills that are moving (fishing stream access; insurance coverage for colonoscopy screening; and foster care reform).

The Governor’s Number’s Add Up – for Exxon, British Petroleum and Conoco – But Not for You.

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Note from Rep. Gara: Public Testimony on Oil Tax; Pushing for Parking for Anchorage Hikers

On Monday, the House Finance Committee held a hearing where only those who support the Governor’s $2 billion per year oil tax rollback were invited to speak. On Thursday and Friday, you get your chance to speak out; something I think should have been allowed at Monday’s hearing. Testimony will be held at your city’s Legislative Information Office (716 W. 4th Ave. in Anchorage) Thursday, March 24, from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM and Friday, March 25, from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM. If an LIO is not accessible to you, call us and we can provide a call-in number.

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