January 26, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Session is going full steam now! I’m thankful to be here alive after the scariest drive of my life getting here. The changing climate is bringing unseasonably warm temperatures and in turn treacherous road conditions as it snows, then melts, and turns to ice. I’ve done this drive twenty times and have never encountered anything like what I did this time. The worst was the Haines Junction, Yukon Territory to Haines, Alaska section of the drive. This part can be tricky in the winter with snowy conditions, but this time it was just the opposite- 45 degrees and rain! The road became impassable and I was the last person to drive the road before it was closed for several days. That meant backtracking to Haines Junction, then on to Whitehorse and Skagway and taking a flight from Skagway on to Juneau. I ran into Fairbanks Republican Senator John Coghill along the way and because he was also in the same predicament he and I caravanned from Haines Junction to Skagway. Then, they closed the road behind us again! Finally, after four days I arrived in Juneau! The news thought the story was a good one and even wrote up a story about us.
I’m excited about this session and the opportunity to make a difference for the future of our state! All that time getting here gave me plenty of time to think about the importance of the decisions we make and the opportunity we have to get our state back on track!
2018 Women’s March in Juneau!
Last Saturday, I was so proud to march with fellow women in Juneau, alongside a crowd of more than a thousand people; this makes this year larger than the first march in 2017. On the national level, I’m encouraged by the progress for women since last year’s march- from the social media hashtag #MeToo, which demonstrates the rampant sexual assault and harassment both in and out of the workplace to th recently announced “Time’s Up” movement, where women in the entertainment industry have banded together to assist other women in many ways, including providing funding for legal challenges to harassment and discrimination.
Since 2017, we’ve seen more women being empowered to run for office and they are running in record numbers! I’m reminded of a similar wave of enthusiasm following Anita Hill’s brave testimony in front of Congress during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. I am hopeful for lasting change and I’m excited to see what this year brings for women. In the meantime I’m keeping my sign close by- ready for next year’s march.
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Lunch & Learn
Monday is Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Day! For 10 years, Lilly Ledbetter fought to close the gap between women’s and men’s wages in a historic discrimination case against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, where she worked for more than 20 years. Ledbetter won a jury verdict of more than $3 million after having filed a gender pay discrimination suit in federal court, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s ruling because of the statute of limitations and she got paid nothing, even after successfully proving pay discrimination had taken place. The Supreme Court decision was later nullified by federal passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which amended the US Civil Rights Act of 1964 to change the statute of limitations for presenting an equal-pay lawsuit so that it begins on the date that the employer makes the initial discriminatory wage decision, not at the date of the most recent paycheck.
We hope you can join in this event by one of several ways. You can watch on Gavel to Gavel if you have cable tv or you can watch online via the akleg tv (found here-- http://w3.akleg.gov/index.php#tab5). If you happen to be in Juneau or have friends in Juneau please have them join us in person at the Capitol Room 106. This year’s invited speakers will be representing the YWCA Alaska, the American Association of University Women, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, The Foraker Group, and the Alaska Department of Labor.
HB 287 and SB 131: We Must Support Early Funding for Education!
If we want to ensure student success with quality educators and opportunities for all, the Alaska Legislature needs to pass its funding bill before the end of the school year. It is simply unacceptable for districts to have to hand out pink slips because the legislature hasn’t passed the operating budget. I’m happy to report that it’s finally looking like this may be the year of kids first!
House Finance Co-Chair Rep. Paul Seaton’s House Bill 287, which was co-sponsored by our entire House Majority Caucus, pulls the funding for education out of the operating budget funds it through this stand alone bill.
Why is this so important? Because for decades, the operating budget gets held up over last-minute details, and education funding gets held up in the mix. Last year we didn’t pass a budget until June 22 – a full month past the mandate for school districts to give pink slips to employees due to lack of funding. This is bad for teachers, bad for students and bad for Alaska. It’s time to give our educators and kids the respect they deserve.
With your advocacy and support, we hope to pass it on to the Senate by early February. Please contact your legislators and ask them to support this bill!
Olympic Athlete Alaskan Keegan Messing Stopped to Visit!
Keegan Messing, a lifelong Alaskan from Girdwood, will be headed to South Korea in the upcoming weeks alongside Canada’s Olympic figure skating team! The 26 year old will be training in Anchorage until heading to the Olympic Games, then to his first world championship in Milan, Italy. Before buckling down and heading back to his training, Keegan stopped by the Capitol, and I’m glad to have gotten the chance to meet him. He’s the first Alaskan to qualify for the Winter Olympics in figure skating, and I know he’ll make us all proud!
Anchorage Elections to be All Vote by Mail
We keep including this in our enews because we want to make sure everyone knows about vote by mail! Staring this year, all Municipal elections will now be all Vote by Mail, beginning with the April 3, 2018 Mayoral election. To learn more about the process, the Municipal Clerk's Office has announced a partnership with the League of Women Voters - Anchorage to host an Open House series at the MOA Election Center. The Open House series provides an opportunity for the public to connect and understand Anchorage Municipal Elections and the functions of the Vote by Mail system.
The series will be hosted once monthly until March 2018 at the MOA Election Center, 619 East Ship Creek Avenue, Entrance C, Suite 100, Anchorage, AK 99501, on dates and times as follows:
• Thursday, February 15, 2018, 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
• Thursday, March 1, 2018, 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Let us know if there is anything we can do for you. We love hearing from our neighbors.
All my best,
P.S. Please save the date for February 24th for our midsession constituent meeting with Senator Begich!