May 10th, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
What We’re Still Working On
I’m expecting we will adjourn in the next few days and I’m pleased to report that many good bills have passed in recent days, including bills to increase access to mental health care, bills that will improve the lives of Alaskans with mental or physical disabilities, and a bill to reform our foster care system. My personal legislation to address rape kit reform and increase purchasing of Alaska Grown have also passed.
As the end of session is near, I wanted to report on a few of the items that remain unfinished.
Increase of Base Student Allocation
Many constituents have reached out with thoughts on education spending. I hear and agree with you- our children deserve better. Currently, the state gives school districts a base student allocation (BSA) of $5,930 per student per year, but the House-passed HB 339, which adds $100 per child, bringing the BSA to $6,030. This 1.6 percent increase amounts to $25 million for districts statewide, roughly equal to the amount lost since 2015. The Senate hasn’t agreed to this BSA increase yet; it recently passed through the House, where I was proud to cosponsor the bill and vote yes. If you care about education funding please reach out in these last days as we finalize the budget so all legislators will know this is a priority!
Another high profile piece of legislation that has stalled is the Smoke-Free Workplace bill. I am a supporter of this bill and will vote yes. This is about worker health and safety and there is no denying there are serious health concerns with exposure to second hand smoke. There have been changes to the bill that will allow communities to opt of if they choose by a vote of the people. Some don’t like this change, but it mirrors what we put in law regarding marijuana sales and I like being consistent with the opt out provision. I expect this bill will come before us in the next day or two and will pass. This represents a compromise between varies stakeholder groups.
SB 76 updates our Title 4 statutes- which govern the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, increases some license fees and re-categorizes them. This is a bill that has been in the works for the last six years with significant stakeholder involvement to update our outdated alcohol statutes. I am a supporter of the original bill. Unfortunately, the bill was recently amended to include provisions about distilleries and breweries. I’m referring to the change to drink limit from 36 ounces to 24 ounces. A lot of you have reached out with concerns regarding this last minute amendment and to oppose the change. I also oppose the change. These are local businesses that are a bright spot in our economy and businesses were developed using the existing standards. This change has caused an uproar and it appears has stalled passage of the bill. I’m disappointed by this and pushed for us to move forward with the underlying bill. At this point it appears the bill will die this session and work will continue over the interim.
The Operating Budget
The conference committee is working hard to finish consideration on the differences between the House and Senate version of the bill.
Here are some of the remaining issues. I support the House version for these items, although on the receipt authority for the AKLNG Project it may be necessary to include additional oversight over the funds received so Alaskans can understand what commitments are being made and so we can receive input from public.
Personal Legislation is Awaiting a Signature from the Governor
All About Alaskan Grown
My bill, HB 217, Alaskan Grown, gives the Department of Natural Resources the authority to sell products with the Alaska Grown logo and to purchase Alaska Grown logo items at wholesale prices on behalf of farmers. This legislation also promotes agritourism by adding farm touring to statutes that limit liability for farmers who want to give tours. It also encourages a higher percentage of Alaska grown food to be purchased by state and municipalities by providing more flexible procurement rules! The money we spend on Alaska Grown food supports our local Alaska businesses, promotes healthy lifestyles, and is a step towards food security.
Rape Kit Reform
Upcoming Events Around the Neighborhood
Our Home, Our Future with Rev. Yearwood Jr.
This Saturday, May 12th, from 11:30am-1:30pm, the Alaska Youth Advisory Commission is hosting a community-driven conversation over lunch at the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club. Reverend Yearwood, Jr., the President and CEO of the Hip Cop Caucus will be kickstarting the lunch and hosting an open freestyle competition for those interested! Come out and join the conversation.
Mountain View Community Council
The Mountain View Community Council will be meeting on Monday, May 14th from 6-8pm at the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club. Come see the neighbors!
Airport Heights Community Council
The Airport Heights Community Council will be meeting on Thursday, May 17th from 7-9pm at the Airport Heights Elementary School!
Anchorage Fire Department Open House
Anchorage Fire Fighters Local 1264 is hosting an open house next Saturday May 19th from 11am to 3pm!
The Fire House is located at 1150 Airport Heights Drive! See you there!
I expect to be home in the next several days and look forward to visiting at upcoming community council meetings.
See you soon,
P.S. If you have any questions on upcoming events, please don’t hesitate to contact our office, we’d be more than happy to help answer any questions you might have!