Representative ADAM WOOL Alaska State Legislature House Majority Coalition Site for Rep. Adam Wool Sat, 14 Jul 2018 00:29:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Legislation Signed to Preserve Alaska’s Historic Roadhouses Sat, 14 Jul 2018 00:29:55 +0000

July 13, 2018


Legislation Signed to Preserve Alaska’s Historic Roadhouses

Senate Bill 45 Also Includes a Bipartisan Compromise to Help Alaska’s Locally Owned Distilleries

Anchorage – Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed legislation today that includes measures to protect the growing hospitality industry in Alaska. Senate Bill 45 includes a provision to allow Alaska’s historic roadhouses to continue operating as they have for decades. The provision was originally included in a bill sponsored by Representative Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks) that passed the Alaska House of Representatives but didn’t pass the Alaska State Senate. In the closing hours of the legislative session, the language to protect Alaska’s historic roadhouses was amended into SB 45, a bill that deals with contractors and home builders.

SB 45 now grandfather’s in 34 businesses to continue operating with a tourism beverage dispensary license. Currently, there are 165 tourism beverage dispensary licenses in Alaska. 122 met all the regulatory requirements for a license. However, 34 of these historic businesses do not because they lack a sufficient number of hotel rooms to accommodate the current population. Prior to 1985, roadhouses only had to have ten rooms. A new interpretation of state law now requires these roadhouses to have up to 50 rooms based on population.

“I couldn’t accept the idea of allowing this new strict interpretation of state statutes to force many of Alaska’s iconic roadhouse to close just because they don’t have enough hotel rooms,” said Rep. Wool. “The best kind of politics is the kind that solves problems, and I want to thank Senator Costello for allowing her bill to be used to solve some problems.”

Prior to the signing of SB 45, many of Alaska’s most historic roadhouses were subject to a new strict interpretation of state law that mandated they have a minimum number of rooms based on population. Because of population growth and the law being changed in 1985, many roadhouses were out of compliance including the Sunrise Inn in Cooper Landing, the Howling Dog in Fairbanks, the Swiss Alaska Inn in Talkeetna, and some that aren’t thought of as roadhouses such as the Mat-Su Resort in Wasilla.

In the waning hours of this year’s legislative session, Rep. Wool was also instrumental in brokering a bipartisan compromise that was inserted into SB 45 to allow Alaska’s new craft distilleries to resume serving mixed drinks in their tasting rooms. The locally owned and operated distilleries were barred for a short time from serving mixed drinks due to an interpretation of state law.

“I was glad to get this issue cleared up. It was ridiculous to serve someone a taste of vodka in one hand and a mixer in the other and tell them they had to mix it themselves to be in compliance with state law,” said Rep. Wool.

That issue has been rectified due to the passage and signing of Senate Bill 45.

For more information, please contact Laura Stidolph in Rep. Wool’s office at (907) 452-6084.


Governor Walker Signs a Bill to Support Alaska’s EMS Providers Thu, 21 Jun 2018 00:19:23 +0000

Rep. Guttenberg, Rep.Grenn, Gov Walker, Commissioner Fisher, Rep Wool

HB 176 Helps EMS Providers Get Reimbursed for Transportation Costs for Medicaid Patients

Anchorage – Today, Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed legislation into law to allow emergency medical services (EMS) providers to recover additional costs for transporting Medicaid patients in Alaska. House Bill 176, sponsored by Representative Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks), changes state law to ensure EMS providers can seek supplemental reimbursements from the Medicaid program, which currently serves over 200,000 Alaskans.

“Alaska’s EMS providers save lives because they have equipment and trained men and women standing by to respond to emergencies. Unfortunately, many of Alaska’s EMS providers are financially strapped and unable to keep valuable employees and make much-needed equipment upgrades. This bill will free up millions in federal funding to remedy that situation, but more importantly, the bill will ensure that help is on its way when Alaskans need it the most,” said Rep. Wool.

EMS providers in Alaska are only reimbursed for about 30 percent of their costs for transporting Medicaid-eligible patients. In fiscal year 2017, the average claim submitted was $1,100. However, the average reimbursement from Medicaid was only $300 for each ground-based EMS transport, leaving an average of about $800 unreimbursed to EMS providers. This bill will help cover those unreimbursed costs.

Last year, HB 176 would have brought in an additional $11 million in federal funding based on the number of Medicaid patients who used EMS services. However, that amount is expected to be larger due to the significant increase in the number of ambulance calls caused, in part, by the ongoing opioid epidemic.

“Most of the EMS providers in Alaska are run by cities and boroughs which means that uncovered costs are eventually paid by local taxpayers, or sometimes the services suffer. By making more of those costs eligible for federal reimbursement, this simple bill will save Alaskans money and make sure life-saving EMTs and EMS providers are just a call away,” said Rep. Wool.  

Earlier this year, House Bill 176 passed both the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska State Senate by unanimous votes. Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed the bill into law today during a ceremony at the Ester Volunteer Fire Department Building. The law takes effect immediately.  

For more information, please contact Laura Stidolph in Rep. Wool’s office at (907) 452-6084.

Alaska Lawmakers Oppose Any Federal Policy Separating Children from Parents at the Southern Border Thu, 21 Jun 2018 00:04:05 +0000

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.

Fort Knox Mine Expansion Will Boost Fairbanks Economy Thu, 14 Jun 2018 02:20:42 +0000

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

Rep. Adam Wool E-News Update: 30th AK State Legislature Comes to a Close Tue, 22 May 2018 21:25:58 +0000
Coalition Members Reflect on the 30th Alaska Legislature Mon, 14 May 2018 00:47:07 +0000

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.

Coalition Members Will Take Questions After Adjourning the Session Sine Die Sun, 13 May 2018 03:23:35 +0000

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:

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

Budget Deal Reached; State Operating Budget Passes the Alaska Legislature Sun, 13 May 2018 02:38:01 +0000

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

Rep. Adam Wool Enews Update: Three Big Bills this Week Sat, 12 May 2018 00:23:36 +0000
Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Extended Four Years by the Alaska Legislature Fri, 04 May 2018 00:02:18 +0000

Rep. Adam Wool

Rep. Wool’s House Bill 299 Authorizes the ABC Board Through June of 2022

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature unanimously approved a bill to extend the board that oversees the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol in Alaska. House Bill 299 extends the sunset date for the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) to June 30, 2022.

“I want an alcohol industry in Alaska that is both vibrant and safe,” said HB 299 sponsor Representative Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks). “The ABC Board serves a vital regulatory and oversight role that helps guard the safety of Alaskans and the strength of the industry.”

The Alaska Division of Legislative Audit recently reviewed the activities of the ABC Board and found that the board is effectively serving the public interest. However, the audit concluded that the board should improve procedures for issuing renewals, recreational site licenses, and beverage dispensary licenses that encourage tourism.

“The Alaska Legislature has been assured that the recommendations from the audit will be implemented and the issues will be addressed. I want to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for recognizing the importance of the Alcohol Beverage Control Board and working swiftly to extend the board for another four years,” said Rep. Wool.

House Bill 299 unanimously passed the Alaska State Senate today by a vote of 17-0. The bill unanimously passed the Alaska House of Representatives last month by a vote of 39-0. After a concurrence vote, HB 299 will be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.

For more information, please contact Laura Stidolph in Rep. Wool’s office at (907) 465-4976.

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