Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Lots of action this week as we quickly transition to regular session schedule. First, please remember there are two opportunities for meeting this weekend. Both are on Saturday. First we have a constituent coffee from 9-10 at the Unitarian Church and then from 10-12:30 we have Anchorage Caucus. Full details are below.
We have committee assignments in order to ensure the business of Alaska gets done and meetings began this week. I am excited to once again serve as Co-Chair of the Resources Committee. Alongside my Co-Chair, Representative Lincoln (Kotzebue), we will work to represent the diverse interests of Alaskans. We will cover issues related to departments of Fish and Game, Natural Resources, and Environmental Conservation. I am also excited to be sitting once again on the Health and Human Services Committee, the Fisheries Committee, the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, and the Joint Armed Services Committee.
I’ve served on the Health and Social Services Committee for the last six years and have been a strong and consistent voice for high quality, affordable health care access for all Alaskans. This session we know we need strong leadership because the budget proposal contains many harmful cuts to programs administered by the Department of Health and Social Services. If you have a story you want to share about Medicaid or Denali Kid Care and how it’s helped your family please let me know. So many Alaskans have needed one or both of the programs and we need to help legislators understand what this means for families everyday.
The two military related committees are special committees that meet less often than the other standing committees. Some neighbors might not think of these issues as big for our area, but please remember that Mountain View borders JBER and activities on base can have a big impact on them. Recently we worked on the proposal to extend a runway and successfully advocated for the alternative that reduced noise pollution over Mountain View with the frequent take off and landings for training exercises. Also, we have many neighbors that are currently serving or are Veterans and I want to honor their service and commitment by making sure the government follows through on the promise of Veterans benefits. Membership on these committees allows me to be involved on these issues and meet with JBER leaders. Next week we will be in full swing and ready to hold hearings. You can follow all the committee hearings on or on .
What I’m Hearing in Meetings, Phone Calls, and by Email
I have had a lot of important meetings over the past few weeks and have loved the opportunity to talk to folks both from our area and from around the state about the needs in their communities. Everyone is talking about the budget. Folks are concerned about everything and worried. The number of messages from people saying they may have to leave the state is increasing and is very troubling. These are professionals with good skills that we need in our economy. Every advocacy organization has been working overtime to understand the proposed cuts and create plans to fight them. This budget proposal has already caused significant disruption to our economy with business leaders in multiple sectors telling us this is driving away interest and investment from our state. At a time when Governor Dunleavy says his message is that Alaska is open for business, business leaders are saying this devastating budget proposal sends just the opposite message. It doesn’t matter whether it’s oil and gas and companies wondering if there will be staff to process permits or health care professionals wondering if providers will have to close or leave, we are hearing every single day how this budget proposal would destroy the state. I don’t use those words lightly; this is the reaction from people reviewing the draft budget.
Girl Scout Troop 49!
One really fun thing I get to do as part of my legislative service is to be one of the troop leaders for Troop 49, the special troop for women legislators and cabinet officials. Today we had our annual meeting where I had the pleasure of meeting with several Girl Scouts, Daisies, and their families. These girls were excited to learn about government and see so many women sharing their successes with a new generation. Several Commissioners and Legislators joined me to welcome the girls and their families to the capitol.
Pictured to the top right are Troop 49 members and Girl Scouts and Daisies that joined us this morning.
The bottom picture is of Troop 49 members, including, from left to right, Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom, Commissioner Tamika Ledbetter, Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson, Representative Ivy Spohnholz, Representative Sara Hannan, Senator Mia Costello, myself, and Representative Harriet Drummond. We are showing off our pins that we had just received from the Girl Scouts. Such a fun start to a Friday!
Upcoming Constituent Meetings
Saturday, February 23rd – Morning Coffee with Representative Tarr from 9:00 -10:00 am at the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Church (2824 E 18th Ave.). Please come have a cup of coffee with me!
Saturday, February 23rd – Anchorage Caucus has been split to two weekends following the passing of Lt. Governor Jack Coghill. I will be attending the Anchorage Caucus this weekend from 10-12:30 at the Anchorage Education Center. Find details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2104271706334429/
On March 2nd, there will be a second Anchorage Caucus meeting. I will be on the phone for this meeting. Details can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1397819727027529/
Sunday, March 10th- Constituent meeting with Senator Begich and Representative Tarr from 12:30-2:30 pm at the Mountain View Library. This will be our mid-session constituent meeting. We’ll start with lunch and then take questions. We also plan to spend time on the issue of income inequality and living wages. More on that soon!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas on legislation we could be introducing! I love hearing from you!
All my best,
P.S. Hope to see you tomorrow from 9-10 for coffee at the Unitarian Church or from 10-12:30 at the Anchorage Caucus. Mark your calendar for March 10th for our midsession constituent meeting.