JANUARY 31, 2017
Embracing the Obligations and Opportunities
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We’re into the second full week of the 30th Alaska Legislature and boy have we been busy! Big changes are happening. As you know, we have a $3 billion dollar deficit, but a Governor who is committed to cooperating with the Legislature to find a mutually-beneficial solution. We have numerous public safety issues to tackle, but an Alaska House Majority Coalition comprised of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents led by the first Democratic speaker with Native ancestry, all committed to making our communities safer. We are making progress, and in the words of our 44th President Barack Obama:
“The change we seek will take longer than one term or one presidency. Real change—big change—takes many years and requires each generation to embrace the obligations and opportunities that come with the title of Citizen.”
This session has many obligations and opportunities at stake for Alaska. Here is where we are today: Alaska is using savings to pay 70 cents of every dollar spent in Alaska; oil runs $50 a barrel and we need it to be closer to $100 or more to pay for state services; and there is the potential for implementing an income or sales tax along with discussion of proposals to protect the dividend and restructure the Permanent Fund to be more like an endowment fund.
BUT here is the opportunity: The Alaska House Majority Coalition and I have never been in a better position to address these obligations for Alaska and set us on course for a strong future.
You might remember with the creation of the Alaska House Majority Coalition, I now serve as Co-Chair of the House Resources Committee and have direct oversight on oil and gas legislation. We will continue working to reform our broken oil and gas subsidy system into a system that can work for our future.
My other committees are Health and Social Services and Fisheries, which means working on issues like mental health and substance abuse; support for breastfeeding in the workplace, HB26 (a bill I pre-filed this session); commercial fisheries research; and banning the sale of genetically modified fish, HB29- another bill I re-introduced this session. I’m also an alternate on the Education Committee, and as an a longtime educator, I’m ready to serve our teachers and students in this capacity.
There are many obligations and opportunities-- thank you for working alongside me for Alaska.
On Monday, I hosted a presentation with Hillary Morgan from the YWCA in Anchorage to address “Equal Pay for Women in Alaska.” If you want to watch the presentation, it’s live here thanks to Gavel to Gavel.