APRIL 11, 2013
Session is wrapping up
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Session is scheduled to end this Sunday, April 14th. The major bills before the legislature are all still in play. Here’s an up to the minute update on the status of these bills.
Senate Bill 21 -
Right now, the House Finance committee is debating yet another version of the bill. Read more about the latest version of the bill here.
It will probably be scheduled for a vote sometime in the next two days in the House. This bill will have a dramatic impact on the future of our state, and Alaskans will be asked to bear the burden of lost revenues. This means less funding for schools, roads, and public safety.
I remain committed to reform that leads to new production in Alaska. We will make reductions if the companies will invest in Alaska. To date, none of the three majors will commit to investment in Alaska, only saying vague things like “we look for all opportunities.” You can read more here.
Senate Bill 18 - Capital Budget
The capital budget will be lean this year. The focus is on large projects of area wide and statewide importance. I believe important projects will receive funding and we will finish projects that have already been started. I agree with the finish what we have started approach. I am hopeful that some of the major Anchorage priorities will receive funding. The House is beginning our work on the capital budget and a new version will be introduced today or tomorrow.
House Bill 23 - An “Unreasonably Optimistic” Bill
In case you missed it, a legislative audit of the Knik Arm bridge project found that the “KAC toll and revenue projections are unreasonably optimistic, and the projected cash flows to the State are likely overstated as a result.”
This means that the state would be on the hook for what could amount to millions of dollars of extra costs. I’ve heard this characterized as “privatizing the profits while socializing the risks.” This is an unreasonable risk as we don’t have true cost estimates to work from in making a decision. This needs to be addressed before moving forward with funding for the project. You can read more about the bill here.
House Bill 77 - Threatening Salmon Streams and Denying the Public
Another bill that is working its way through the legislature is HB 77. Described by the Administration as streamlining the permitting process, this bill actually guts the public process and will deny Alaskans the opportunity to protect important salmon streams. The bill is scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor. Click here if you’re interested in reading more about it.