The Alaska State Legislature has officially gone back into session, and I am excited to be down in Juneau again to work on the important issues facing our State. I am again the Chair of the House Energy Committee, co-Chair of the House Transportation Committee, the Vice Chair of House Labor & Commerce Committee and a member of the House State Affairs committee. I am also working on some legislation of my own (which I’ll discuss as it develops), and I am serving on budget subcommittees for the Departments of Transportation, Revenue, Labor & Workforce Development, Environmental Conservation, Administration, and the University.
Breaking News: Costco is Coming to Fairbanks!
A little over a week ago, we learned that Sam’s Club in Fairbanks was closing its doors for good. This left many unmet needs in Fairbanks for both individuals and businesses who rely on the sale of bulk goods at competitive prices. After our Interior Delegation legislators sent a letter to Costco’s Northern Division COO, we were pleased to learn that Costco is evaluating the old Sam’s Club location and planning to move in as soon as their building plans are completed. This is welcome news for the families and community organizations who will once again have a place to save money by buying in bulk.
The Legislature: Where We Are and Where We Are Going
With an extended session and three special sessions, I was as frustrated as everyone else with the Legislature last year. We passed an operating budget bill, way too late – just days before the state government would have shutdown. I was very unhappy about this sloppy process and will do all I can to stop it from happening again this year. It’s so unfair not just to state government workers (many of whom received a pink slip in June last year) but to all Alaskans who depend upon and expect reliable state services.
Last year the House also passed a revenue measure that would distribute the burden of paying for State services fairly across all Alaskans. The Senate did not pass this measure, leaving Alaska’s budget crisis unresolved. While we will continue to look for strategic budget cuts and ways to improve our efficiency as a State government, we must also find solutions to the fiscal crisis that don’t involve cuts to needed services.
This year, I am committed to ensuring our K-12 schools and the University receive the funding they need to keep classrooms running. I am also very interested in a bill that would require the Legislature to fully fund K-12 education by April 1. Additionally, I find the current funding levels for the University to be unacceptable. I will continue to apply pressure to ensure they receive adequate funding.
From Left to Right: Ashley Strauch, Rep. Adam Wool, Laura Stidolph, and Rob Earl
Meet My Staff
I am supported by three staff who have a breadth of knowledge and experience. Last year, each of them got married, so I also have an office of newlyweds! Please feel free to give them a call anytime with any questions or concerns you may have. Here is a little bit more information about each of them:
Rob Earl is a UAF graduate and a long-time staffer. He recently married a Canadian and enjoys maple syrup, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and is considering taking up hockey. This year he will be covering energy issues and legislation, as well as staffing the Special Committee on Energy. He’s also staffing the Administration and Revenue budget subcommittees.
Laura Stidolph is my House Transportation Committee aide, and she also staffs the House Labor & Commerce Committee, and carries legislation for me. She was born and raised in Juneau, left Alaska for school, and returned home to settle down and have a family. Buster was born on Day 100 of session last year and Bessa has been running around the Capitol for two and a half years. When she’s not wrangling children; you can find Laura running a beauty boutique in downtown Juneau, foraging for mushrooms and other seasonal goodies, and spending time at her family cabin near Glacier Bay.
Ashley Strauch is serving as my aide for House State Affairs as well as for the University and Environmental Conservation budget subcommittees. She will also be assisting me in resolving any current issues in our district. Ashley is a fourth-generation Alaskan who graduated from UAF in 2014, and she is now pursuing a Master’s in Public Health. She is an avid volunteer and organizer in Fairbanks.
As always, please do not hesitate to call or email my office in Juneau. We can be reached at 907-465-4976, and you can always send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Individuals can also subscribe to this news list by emailing me. We look forward to hearing from you!