Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Restorative Justice Summit a Huge Success
More than 100 people from across Alaska participated in the 2nd Restorative Justice Summit over three days in early December. Hosted by Sen. Tom Begich and myself, this annual event brings together educators, school board members, criminal justice leaders, school district officials, parents and non-profits to share best practices that can be useful in schools and every day life.
Restorative justice aims to restore the person, not just punish them. Each year we learn and share new ways to understand conflict, ask who was harmed, and explore what can be done to make things right. In this way we can find healing from destructive actions. Too often, children get kicked out of class when there is conflict, and they end up dropping out of school and can too easily end up in prison – with no education and no alternatives.
We opened the three days with an evening gathering at the Mountain View library, which featured presentations by Cathleen Mclaughlin, the director at Partners Reentry Center, discussing ways they are using justice reinvestment funds, which were made available under SB 91, the Legislature’s criminal justice reform bill, and from Kerri Berkowitz, a restorative justice trainer & implementation specialist, who has been leading workshops in Alaska schools.
We had excellent TV coverage from KTVA channel 11. You can view it here. A huge takeaway from the Thursday presentation was that 95% of all prisoners eventually get released from prison, and they need ways to be safely integrated back into society.
The full day event on Friday was opened with a story and prayer from Amy Modig from RuralCap. Very powerful. We produced a map to document where restorative practices are happening, and it really is across the state. I was particularly pleased to see a large contingent from Fairbanks!
Please save the date for our 2018 summit, which will again feature a community forum. November 29 - Saturday, December 1.
Changes in Oil and Gas Taxes Save the State Up To $1 Million a Day, a Step Closer to Fiscal Plan
As I look back over this year I am disappointed that we didn’t succeed in getting a full fiscal plan passed, however, one key part of our comprehensive plan was to reform our broken oil and gas tax credit system, and we did get that passed. As co-chair of the House Resources Committee, I worked diligently this past year to understand what is happening with our oil and gas taxes and how they oscillate year after year with the price of oil. The tax credit program that has been in place in recent years was meant to encourage more development, but we have spent billions on credits over the years, and not all of that has led to new production.
Our fiscal crisis demands that Alaska’s leaders look everywhere for revenue. Along with Resources Co-Chair Andy Josephson, I helped bring both sides together on a compromise for House Bill 111, the bill that reformed Alaska’s tax credit program, which was signed into law in July, after passing both the House and Senate along strong bipartisan lines.
The oil and gas production tax is based on the net value of the oil — market price minus production and transportation costs — and the newer, higher cost fields pay the state substantially less per barrel than Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk, which are declining. Some marginal fields actually pay no tax. On average, each barrel of oil brings approximately $2 to the State in severance tax. I’m in the process of putting together a list of oil projects on the North Slope that will be coming online in five to seven years. My research has shown that this compromise bill has saved the state about $1 million a day!
House Bill 111 also authorized the creation of the oil and gas fiscal working group, that I co-chair along with Sen. Cathy Giessel. In November we appointed members, including Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), Rep. Dean Westlake (D-Kiana), Rep. Jason Grenn (I-Anchorage), Rep. Dave Talerico (R-Healy), Sen. Bert Stedman (R-Sitka), Sen. Natasha von Imhof (R-Anchorage), Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna), and Sen. Bill Wielechowksi (D-Anchorage). The Oil and Gas Competitiveness Review Board, created in 2013, has accepted the role of being an advisory group to our legislative working group. This group was not able to meet as much as we had hoped because of the lengthy fall special session, but our work will continue in the upcoming session. Stay tuned for more details!
The schedule of meetings will be publicly noticed and posted online at www.akleg.gov. Questions can be directed to me at (907) 269-0144 or Sen. Cathy Giessel at (907) 269-0181.
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!