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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Legislature Approves Increased Benefits for Those Displaced by Federal Construction Projects in Alaska

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed legislation to increase the maximum relocation benefits available to those displaced by federally funded construction projects. House Bill 131 brings Alaska statutes in line with federal laws that were changed in 2012 with the passage of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act. Prior to passage of the act, federal relocation benefit rates had not been changed in 30-years. HB 131 was sponsored by the House Transportation Committee under the leadership of Co-Chairs Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) and Rep. Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks).

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House Passes Resolution on Proposed Plan for Offshore Lease Sales

Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives passed House Resolution 6, weighing in on the 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program. The current draft program calls for lease sales in 14 of the 15 planning areas in Alaska (there are a total of 26 planning areas across the country).

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Opinion: HB 199 is not an anti-mine bill

Rep. Louise Stutes

I feel compelled to comment on a Feb. 4 Juneau Empire article that I was featured in titled “Local fishermen, mining companies divided over fish habitat.”

A few days prior to the article, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of the local fishermen in support of my fish habitat permitting legislation, House Bill 199. This bill was drafted in response to a request by the Board of Fisheries that the Legislature update fish habitat permitting laws that have remained unchanged since statehood. The board cited a lack of enforceable standards and public input as weaknesses in the current law.

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