March 1, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Thanks for attending our constituent meeting!
A huge thank you to everyone who attended our constituent meeting this past weekend. I was so happy to see dozens of neighbors, who had to deal with several inches of new snow and slippery roads, come out to join us for a conversation on neighborhood priorities and get an update on what we’re working on in the Capitol. Topics brought up by neighbors ranged from needing an income tax to funding for government rehabilitation programs to the cost of services to how to help our youth and providing more training to neighbors- and much more! We work for you and your input helps ensure that we focus on what’s important to you!
If you couldn’t make it to the constituent meeting last weekend, I hope you’ll be able to attend the Anchorage Caucus this weekend, from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at UAA. See details below!
Featured below are some pictures of last week’s event! We had great discussion on so many issues!
This Weekend: Anchorage Caucus!
This Saturday, March 3rd- please join me along with other Anchorage Senators and Representatives for our annual Anchorage Caucus. We’ll be meeting from 2-4 pm in the Rasmuson Hall at UAA (3416 Seawolf Dr.). Parking is free and children are welcome.
Of course, if you can’t make it this Saturday, I’d still like to hear from you! Please don’t hesitate to reach out! Feel free to reach out to me via phone, email, or social media with any concerns you might have!
Public Testimony for the Operating Budget
Public testimony for Anchorage residents is Saturday from 10:15 -11:45 am. See below for details of how to participate! This year’s budget is considered a “maintenance budget” because we are trying to maintain essential services. There are cuts happening in every department, but there are fewer places to cut now because significant cuts have been made over the last four years.
Items to note: Due to previous cuts, the Department of Law lost 22 prosecutors and 19 support positions. I fought these budget cuts because we knew cuts too deep would impact public safety. The result of those cuts is that thousands fewer cases were brought forward because of lack of resources. This was a big part of the discussion before and during last fall’s special session. Over and over we hear from law enforcement and prosecutors about how lack of staffing is impacting their ability to keep Alaskans safe, even with changes in the law that put in place harsh penalties and jail time for all crimes, including property crime and petty theft. The Majority Coalition has prioritized public safety by supporting the addition of more prosecutors in Anchorage and more investigators to assist them in bringing cases to trial.
Education funding is not included in the bill being considered by the Finance Committee. The Majority Coalition wants an end to the pink slip problem so we pulled education funding out of the operating budget and funded education (at last year’s amount) through House Bill 287. This early funding of education is intended to give districts the ability to plan. The House passed this bill on February 7th. This bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.
HOW TO TESTIFY: If testifying in person, please arrive 15 minutes early to make sure and get signed in. If you'd prefer to submit your testimony in writing, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by Saturday, March 3rd.
WHEN: Saturday, March 3rd, 10:15am - 11:45am
WHERE: Anchorage LIO at 1500 W. Benson Blvd (corner of Minnesota & Benson)
Not able to make it in person and want to call in? Please dial (907) 465-4648, and you'll receive a number and a time to call in for public testimony on Thursday, Friday or Saturday of this week.
HB 75: Addressing Gun Violence
The tragic Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida triggered a huge response for my bill, HB 75, which would create a Gun Violence Protective Order (GVPO). These GVPOs are limited in scope to a crisis situation and temporary in nature, from 3 days to six months. As written, only an immediate family member or a peace officer could petition the court. This new court-issued order of protection is modeled after domestic violence protective orders.
Five states have already passed Gun Violence Protection Orders, also known as red flag legislation or Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Connecticut was the first to pass this law, in 1999, which Duke University researchers say has saved hundreds of lives from suicide alone.
Family members often see warning signs before tragedy occurs, and my bill would give them a tool to be able to petition the court to have guns and ammunition removed from the home temporarily while a long-term solution is developed. Lawmakers in 25 states have introduced or planned to introduce similar legislation that would empower family members and police to help prevent gun violence. The first hearing was held February 28 in the House Judiciary Committee, with more than 30 people, many of them students, testifying in favor. We received 65 written letters and emails in support, and powerful testimony from local high schoolers who came in person (pictured below). The bill will be heard in Judiciary again over the next two weeks, so please send in your support. You can email me at Rep.Geran.Tarr@akleg.gov.
Students from local Juneau high schools came after school to testify. Their testimony was great! It’s clear these students know the issues, have ideas, and want to be a part of the solution!
HB 326: Improving Access in Health Care
Alaskans pay some of the highest health care costs in the country, particularly in rural areas where people struggle with basic healthcare access. When you take the cost, accessibility, and combine them with other factors, we see why Alaska has exceptionally high rates of chronic and preventable disease. Naturopaths specialize in preventative medicine and treatment of chronic disease, and importantly naturopathic doctors focus more on disease prevention and addressing the root causes of illness. In the long run, this saves money for consumers, insurers, and our state. HB 326 would establish a clear scope of practice for naturopathic doctors, consistent with their nationally accredited education and training. This bill will increase options, access, and competition in Alaska’s health care market. HB 326 will be heard next Wednesday, March 7th at 3:30pm in House Labor and Commerce. To send in a letter of support, please email me at Rep.Geran.Tarr@akleg.gov . For more information on HB 326, please click here.
HB 27: Protecting Alaskans from Toxic Chemicals
House Bill 27 is designed to protect the health of Alaska’s children. HB 27 is a first step in taking proactive measures for the safety and health of our children by implementing a ban on toxic chemicals in manufactured children’s toys sold in state. We have an obligation to the health of our children and families to enact this legislation. We can no longer allow the health of our youngest generations to be compromised from exposure to toxins in everyday products. Studies have shown that there is a serious link between toxins and serious health issues, and while this is true, it is still common for manufactured toys and other children’s products to contain potent chemicals that ultimately will harm our children. HB 27 will be heard in the House Resources Committee next Friday, March 9th at 3:00pm. To send in letters of support, please email me at Rep.Geran.Tarr@akleg.gov. For more information on HB27, please click here.
Upcoming Community Council Meetings
The Mountain View Community Council will meet Monday, March 12th starting at 6pm at the Mountain View Boys & Girls Club.
The Russian Jack Community Council will be meeting Wednesday, March 14th starting at 6:30pm at the Wonder Park Elementary School.
The Airport Height Community Council will be meeting Thursday, March 15th starting at 7pm at the Airport Heights Elementary School.
Last Chance for Vote by Mail Open House
As you may have heard, 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, 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. Hope to see you Saturday at Rasmuson Hall from 2-4 for Anchorage Caucus.