Representative SCOTT KAWASAKI http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki Alaska State Legislature House Majority Coalition Site for Rep. Scott Kawasaki Mon, 09 Jul 2018 23:36:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 Alaska Lawmakers Oppose Any Federal Policy Separating Children from Parents at the Southern Border http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/06/20/alaska-lawmakers-oppose-any-federal-policy-separating-children-from-parents-at-the-southern-border/ Thu, 21 Jun 2018 00:04:05 +0000 http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/06/20/alaska-lawmakers-oppose-any-federal-policy-separating-children-from-parents-at-the-southern-border/

21 Alaska State Senators and Representatives Send a Letter to President Trump 

Anchorage – Today, 21 members of the Alaska State Legislature sent a letter to President Donald Trump thanking him for responding to the wishes of the American people by pledging to end the practice of separating children from families that illegally cross the southern border of the United States. The President has confirmed that he will use his executive order authority to stop the practice, which his administration implemented earlier this year. The lead author of the letter is long-time State Representative David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks) who notes that the policy was an inappropriate and ineffective use of government resources and taxpayer dollars.

“Many of the families arriving at the southern border are fleeing life-threatening circumstances and persecution in their home country. They came to America searching for relief and asylum and instead they have been greeted with callous separation from their children. What we witnessed at the border is wrong and not in keeping with American ideals and values,” said Rep. Guttenberg.

“The growing daily outrage we heard from business, religious, and political leaders across the country is justified, and I want to add my name to the list of Americans calling for an end to any policy that separates children from families on the southern border,” said Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks).  

The letter to President Trump from the members of the Alaska Legislature cites the United Nations Human Rights Office, which has called the policy change a “serious violation” of the rights of children. The policy also violates the UN Refugee Convention, which was signed by the United States. The convention clearly states that asylum-seekers should not be penalized for entering a country illegally.

“What we have witnessed on the southern border is both heartbreaking and infuriating. I never thought we would have government agents taking children from the arms of parents and caging them like criminals when all they wanted was to find the American dream,” said Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage), Chair of the House Health and Social Services Committee.    

“Forced separation of children from their mothers does not align with my Alaskan values. With this policy young children could suffer further trauma,” said Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer).

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

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Fort Knox Mine Expansion Will Boost Fairbanks Economy http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/06/13/fort-knox-mine-expansion-will-boost-fairbanks-economy/ Thu, 14 Jun 2018 02:20:42 +0000 http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/06/13/fort-knox-mine-expansion-will-boost-fairbanks-economy/

State Support for Responsible Mining Allows for Mine Expansion onto Adjacent State Land

Anchorage – Alaska State Representatives Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks) have released the following statements in response to Tuesday’s announcement that the developer of the Fort Knox gold mine near Fairbanks will proceed with a mine expansion onto adjacent land owned by the State of Alaska. The Kinross Gold Corporation reports that the proposed expansion will produce 1.5 gold equivalent ounces and extend the life of the Fort Knox Mine to 2030.

“Expanding the Fort Knox Mine will be good for the local economy and shows that the State of Alaska is a good partner in responsible mining projects. The Fort Knox Mine is one of the safest mines on earth and is a shining example of how to do it right in a challenging environment. I wholeheartedly support the mine expansion onto state land and hope the permitting process can be expedited,” said Rep. Kawasaki.

The land that will be used for the expansion of the Fort Knox Mine was formally owned by the federal government. It was transferred to the State of Alaska in December of last year.

“Extending the life of the Fort Knox Mine would be a boost for the Fairbanks economy. The mine features hundreds of good paying local jobs and produces significant state and local tax revenue. I support this use of adjacent state land because it shows the State of Alaska can be a good neighbor and landlord for responsible mining projects,” said Rep. Wool.

Kinross Gold Corp. estimates that the capital investment to expand the Fort Knox Mine will be around $100 million, and more exploratory drilling will take place next year. Currently, the mine employees around 630 people.

Kinross Gold Corp. estimates that the capital investment to expand the Fort Knox Mine will be around $100 million, and more exploratory drilling will take place next year. Currently, the mine employees around 630 people.

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

Mike Mason
Press Secretary, Alaska House Majority Coalition
Phone: (907) 444-0889

akhouse.org
www.facebook.com/AKCoalition
www.twitter.com/AKCoalition

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Rep Kawasaki End of Session Update http://akhouse.org/kawasaki/052118_newsletter.htm Mon, 21 May 2018 20:23:33 +0000 http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/05/21/rep-kawasaki-end-of-session-update
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Coalition Members Reflect on the 30th Alaska Legislature http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/05/13/coalition-members-reflect-on-the-30th-alaska-legislature/ Mon, 14 May 2018 00:47:07 +0000 http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/05/13/coalition-members-reflect-on-the-30th-alaska-legislature

Budget, Fiscal, and Other Legislative Achievements Highlight a Successful 30th Alaska Legislature

Juneau – After a flurry of legislative action, the Alaska House of Representatives joined the Alaska Senate in adjourning the Second Session of the 30th Alaska Legislature sine die early Sunday morning. Members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition reflected on the legislative achievements of the session.

“Goal number one of most politicians is to avoid political risk at all cost. That doesn’t apply to the men and women of the Alaska House Majority Coalition. We took huge political risks over the past two years and set an example for openness and transparency I hope future legislatures will emulate. Too often politics is judged by who wins and who loses. I admit that we lost some, but I stand proudly with my House Majority colleagues in celebrating our wins. We faced more obstacles to success than any legislature in Alaska’s history, and as I step away from the House I judge our Coalition a success,” said Rep. David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks), House Finance Committee member.

“Nearly every day I speak with people who are concerned about the future of Alaska. I share many of those concerns. Our job as lawmakers is to work every day to help people and to secure a brighter future for our great state. My colleagues in the Alaska House Majority Coalition worked diligently for the past two years on solutions. We did this by ditching the old pattern of partisan politics in favor of hard work and listening to the will of the people,” said Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan), House Finance Committee member.

“What I will remember from the last two years is the moving public testimony that brought many of us to tears. Sometimes they were tears of sadness and other times they were tears of joy. The legislative process can be very frustrating to watch and often even more frustrating to be part of, but I am deeply grateful for my friends in this Coalition. We cast aside politics to work together. In doing so we addressed some incredibly important issues during what will always be considered a remarkable legislative session,” said Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage), Chair of the House Education Committee.

“The most important thing we can all do to protect the future of Alaska is to realize that the politics of winners and losers is counterproductive to real solutions. I took some extremely tough votes over the past two years with the goal of protecting Alaskan jobs, the Alaska economy, and our education system. If the alternative is inaction, there was no choice at all. We did a lot of good things this session, some very good,” said Rep. Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks), Chair of the House Energy Committee.  

“I am thrilled to have passed health care price transparency, protected the Permanent Fund, and secured funding increases for the next two years for K-12 and pre-k education,” said Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage), Chair of the House Health and Social Services Committee.

“I came into office last year dedicated to addressing our fiscal issues, but also to see reforms that build trust and create transparency for the people of Alaska. As we gavel out of my first term in office, I’m both proud and humbled by what has been accomplished. This legislature, I’ve passed a monumental legislative reform package, been part of a historic vote protecting the Permanent Fund and PFD, and have taken critical steps towards increasing public safety, education, and getting our economic future back on track. It’s been amazing to get to connect with my neighbors and to serve the people of District 22 with everything I’ve got,” said Rep. Jason Grenn (I-Anchorage), House Finance Committee member.

“I’m proud that our House Majority Coalition prioritized public safety by passing rape kit reform legislation along with funding to address our backlog of untested rape kits. This is a huge step forward and will bring justice to victims,” said Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), Co-Chair of the House Resources Committee.

“Our Coalition formed with the goal to ignore party labels and partisanship in favor of fiscal solutions for the State of Alaska and all Alaskans. We passed a responsible operating budget that makes sure essential public services are delivered and advanced the dialogue around the need for long-term fiscal solutions. I am grateful that our Coalition stood fast for a larger $1,600 PFD this fall when both the Governor and Senate Majority wanted PFDs set around $1,000,” said House Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer).

“The Alaska House Majority Coalition elected the first Alaska Native Speaker of the House, and we are the first non-binding majority caucus in state history. We are the most diverse majority caucus in history with conservative Republicans, progressive Democrats, strong-willed Independents, and everything in between. Every day we went to work for the people of Alaska, and for that I am proud,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).

“The Alaska Permanent Fund and the PFDs that represent our shared oil wealth are so important to the Alaskan way of life that I refused to toss them aside in favor of politics. The Permanent Fund dividend will continue to be eyed with envy by politicians, special interests, and outsiders until it’s protected in the Alaska Constitution,” said Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage), Chair of the House Rules Committee.

“I am grateful to serve in the 30th Alaska Legislature. Our coalition was successful in early funding public education for the next two years, and we came together to pass some important public safety reforms. A more personal victory was the passage of House Bill 213 to modernize the Alaska Public School Trust Fund. The bill will bring in millions of new earnings from a $650 million fund by modernizing the fund’s management to allow a more predictable draw and continued growth. The bill also creates an education raffle and endowment, the proceeds of which will go to schools on top of their regular funding,” said Rep. Justin Parish (D-Juneau), Co-Chair of the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee.

“We made lives better for children, those battling addiction, and those who deserve to be safe in their homes. I can walk out of this session proud that we passed some, but not all of the things I believe we needed to pass to improve this state,” said House Finance Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage).

“Our Coalition will be noteworthy in Alaska history for bravely confronting Alaska’s enormous fiscal instability and uncertainties. Whatever might be said about this majority, we acted boldly, courageously, and without fear. The House Resources Committee was unique in presenting legislation reflecting the viewpoints of all Alaskans, including but not limited to the voice of resource developers. The Resources Committee heard or advanced legislation on everything from the Pebble Mine to climate change, and from wildlife management to toxic flame-retardant chemicals. Perhaps never in the history of Alaska was there a more balanced showing of the many environmental and natural resources issues confronting Alaska,” said Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), House Resources Committee Co-Chair.

“Our Coalition was unwavering in our commitment to improve public safety and respond to the concerns of our friends and neighbors in the community. House Bill 312 advanced the shared public safety priorities of the House, Senate, Governor Walker, and the people of Alaska. That bill, together with the five new prosecutors and other public safety measures we funded in the budget, will make Alaska safer, but we still have work to do to respond to the opioid crisis and to make up for the ill-advised cuts to public safety over the last several years,” said Rep. Matt Claman (D-Anchorage), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

“Representing House District 38 in the Alaska Legislature has been one of the greatest privileges so far in my career. And yet, it has also been very challenging at times. Alaska is faced with wide-reaching, complex, issues and I joined the effort to find solutions on day 53. I have worked with my new colleagues for the last 64 days trying to serve the everyday Alaskans who need government to work for them, not against them. With that said, I am looking forward to going home. It’s almost berry picking season,” said Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky (D-Bethel), Co-Chair of the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee.

“Every member of the Legislature brings his or her own set of principles and priorities to Juneau, and they all have value and legitimacy. But to get things done—and to do right by the people—you eventually have to meet somewhere in the middle. It’s not easy to find that balance, and no one enjoys compromising on the goals they have for the state and for the district they serve, but I’m proud that the House raised the dividend to $1600, and that we increased funding for our schools, for safer towns and villages, for fish & game management, and more. Also, I am pleased that a tone of integrity, trust, and cooperation this session helped lead us to its successful conclusion, well within our Constitutional deadline,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham).

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

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Coalition Members Will Take Questions After Adjourning the Session Sine Die http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/05/12/coalition-members-will-take-questions-after-adjourning-the-session-sine-die/ Sun, 13 May 2018 03:23:35 +0000 http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/05/12/coalition-members-will-take-questions-after-adjourning-the-session-sine-die

Alaska House Majority Coalition End of Session Press Availability Scheduled for Tonight

Juneau – The members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition will hold a press availability tonight to answer questions from reporters covering the 30th Alaska State Legislature. The press availability will be held 15 minutes after the Alaska House of Representatives adjourns the Second Session of the 30th Alaska State Legislature sine die.

The press availability will be held in the Speaker’s Chambers of the Capitol Building in Juneau.

The public and media are welcome to attend.  For media unable to attend in person, participation is available by teleconference by calling toll free at (844) 586-9085.

WHO: Alaska House Majority Coalition members

WHAT: Alaska House Majority Coalition press availability

WHERE: Speaker’s Chambers, room 210, Alaska State Capitol, Juneau

WHEN: 15 minutes after the House adjourns the legislative session sine die

Teleconference: 1 (844) 586-9085

Live stream: http://akl.tv

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

Mike Mason
Press Secretary, Alaska House Majority Coalition
Phone: (907) 444-0889
akhouse.org
www.facebook.com/AKCoalition
www.twitter.com/AKCoalition

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Budget Deal Reached; State Operating Budget Passes the Alaska Legislature http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/05/12/686/ Sun, 13 May 2018 02:38:01 +0000 http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/05/12/686

FY 2019 Budget Funds a Larger PFD and Includes More Money for Public Safety

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.

“This budget is the culmination of a lot of hard work and compromises on all sides. Our Coalition fought hard for a larger Permanent Fund Dividend because we know how vital PFDs are to Alaskans. The continued long-term health of the Permanent Fund, and in turn the PFD, is a key priority for our coalition, so we stood strong in demanding that the fund be inflation-proofed for the first time in three years,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham). “Throughout the public process to develop this budget, the people of Alaska were loud and clear that public safety is a major priority. Our Coalition worked to ensure no cuts to State Troopers, and we insisted on funding for more prosecutors and public defenders as part of the budget compromise.”

The FY 19 state operating budget incorporates the rules-based Percent of Market Value (POMV) approach that lawmakers approved earlier this week to access the earnings of the $65 billion Alaska Permanent Fund to pay for essential public services and PFDs. The 5.25 percent draw totals $2.7 billion. $1.69 billion will be used to help pay for public services like public education, State Troopers, fish and game management, and road maintenance. $1.02 billion will be used to fund $1,600 PFDs this fall.

“Developing a responsible budget during a fiscal crisis is no easy task. We partially did that with the budget bills that passed today. I take comfort in knowing that by passing a budget in a timely manner the State of Alaska can deliver the essential public services that keep our state running. Further action will be needed to ensure sustainable income for our public services. I represent an area heavily dependent on the tourism and commercial fishing industries, and this budget allows those industries to go forward without interruption,” said House Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer), who served as the lead negotiatior for the House on the HB 286 Conference Committee.

Today, the Alaska House of Representatives approved the budget compromise by a vote of 21-19. The Alaska State Senate passed the compromise by a vote of 15-4. The Fiscal Year 2019 Operating and Mental Health Budgets will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his consideration.

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

Mike Mason
Press Secretary, Alaska House Majority Coalition
Phone: (907) 444-0889
akhouse.org
www.facebook.com/AKCoalition
www.twitter.com/AKCoalition

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Day 116 Update: What’s Going on in Juneau? http://akhouse.org/kawasaki/051118_newsletter.htm Sat, 12 May 2018 00:35:48 +0000 http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/05/11/day-116-update-whats-going-on-in-juneau
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Alaska’s Vital Senior Benefits Program Extended to 2024 http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/05/10/alaskas-vital-senior-benefits-program-extended-to-202/ Thu, 10 May 2018 21:49:03 +0000 http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/05/10/alaskas-vital-senior-benefits-program-extended-to-202

HB 236 Passed the Alaska Legislature with Bipartisan Support; Signed Today by Gov. Walker

Juneau – Today, Alaska Governor Bill Walker put his signature on a significant piece of legislation to extend Alaska’s Senior Benefits Program through June of 2024. House Bill 236, sponsored by Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks), was officially signed into law in Fairbanks during the Annual Senior Citizen Recognition Day event organized by the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The bill passed the Alaska Legislature this year nearly unanimously.

“The Senior Benefits Program, which serves the pioneers who built Alaska, shows our shared commitment to helping those who helped build our great state. The elders and seniors who use the Senior Benefits Program are the ones who cared for us, and it’s our turn to care for them,” said Rep. Kawasaki. “I believe that Alaskans who have served their community all their lives deserve to maintain their quality of life without having to sacrifice their home or health. That is exactly what the Senior Benefits Program does, and I was honored to sponsor the bill.”

Currently, the Senior Benefits Program assists nearly 12,000 low-income seniors by providing modest monthly cash assistance, based on three tiers of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for Alaska. Recipients use the $76, $175 or $250 monthly payments to help buy essential items necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as groceries, medication, transportation, rent, and utilities. Last September, a subcommittee on the bill, chaired by Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage), hosted a statewide public testimony event that resulted in this year’s effort to extend the program to give Alaska’s seniors certainty that the program will be available in the future.

“In Alaska, we honor and respect our elders. That respect is illustrated by the extension of the Senior Benefits Program for another six years. The overwhelming public support for the program underscored the importance of this program that gives our seniors and elders the helping hand they deserve,” said Rep. Spohnholz.

Today’s bill signing means that HB 236 is now law and that payments through the Senior Benefits Program will continue uninterrupted. Without this bill, the program would have been forced to end on June 30.

“Thank you to the many co-sponsors of House Bill 236 and to the example of bipartisanship demonstrated by both chambers and the dozens of senior advocacy groups and organizations who helped pass this bill swiftly,” said Rep. Kawasaki.

For more information, please contact Mercedes Colbert in Rep. Kawasaki’s office at (907) 465-3466.

Mike Mason
Press Secretary, Alaska House Majority Coalition
Phone: (907) 444-0889

akhouse.org
www.facebook.com/AKCoalition
www.twitter.com/AKCoalition

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Day 95 Update: Budget & Bills on the Move http://akhouse.org/kawasaki/042018_newsletter.htm Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:17:02 +0000 http://akhouse.org/rep_kawasaki/2018/04/20/day-95-update-budget-bills-on-the-move
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