Budget Deal Reached; State Operating Budget Passes the Alaska Legislature

Juneau – A compromise budget agreement between the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska State Senate was reached today, resulting in the passage of the fiscal year 2019 operating budget for the State of Alaska. Today’s budget deal prevents any disruption in essential public services as the State of Alaska enters the busy summer tourism and fishing seasons. House Bill 286 features total General Fund spending of $6.27 billion. The budget includes Alaska House Majority Coalition priorities such as $942 million to inflation-proof the value of the $65 billion Alaska Permanent Fund, $1.02 billion to pay for $1,600 Permanent Fund Dividends for each eligible Alaskan, a $10 million investment in the University of Alaska above the Governor’s proposal, and multiple measures to improve public safety and law enforcement in Alaska.

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Workers’ Compensation Reform Passes the Alaska Legislature

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed legislation put forward by Alaska Governor Bill Walker to improve Alaska’s workers’ compensation system. House Bill 79 allows for electronic filing, reduces administrative costs, more clearly defines ‘independent contractor’, and provide adequate funding to administer the workers’ compensation system.

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Josephson E-Blast, May 4th Edition

While remaining deeply engaged in the big, lynchpin issues that the legislature must settle before adjourning, in recent weeks I’ve also managed to advance measures that I’ve been championing. Those include:

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Josephson E-blast Early May Edition

The House and Senate, via HB 287, appropriated $1.32 billion for K-12 next school year, the same amount as this year. This allows school districts to budget and avoid most teacher layoffs, but flat-funding education means cutting education. Inflation has eroded $90 million in education funding since 2014, resulting in 500+ fewer teachers and support staff, increased class sizes, and reduced programming. In its version of the bill, the Senate added $1.32 billion for the school year that begins September 2019, plus $30 million in one-time grants to school districts, if the House passes the Permanent Fund Draw,

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House Votes to Strengthen Penalties for Spills of Oil and Other Hazardous Substances

Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation to give the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) additional tools to address spills of oil and hazardous substances in Alaska. House Bill 322 updates civil penalties that have been eroded over time due to inflation and provides administrative penalties that DEC can quickly levy to stop and prevent spills. Both penalties would be automatically adjusted for inflation every ten years. Additionally, HB 322 stipulates that trucking companies transporting oil share with DEC any spill plan they submit to the federal government.

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Legislature Wants Wild and Domestic Animals in Alaska Protected from Infectious Diseases

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed a resolution urging cooperation among state departments to protect the health of wild and domestic animals. House Concurrent Resolution 23 calls for increased data collection on diseases and foreign pathogens to better facilitate science-based management decisions. The resolution is a call to action for the Departments of Fish and Game, Natural Resources, and Environmental Conservation to cooperate on measures to prevent the spread of diseases and pathogens among Alaska’s wildlife and domestic animals.

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