Legislature Must Address Alaska’s Budget Crisis
Dear Friends, Neighbors, and fellow Fairbanksans:
This session I’m proud to be part of the new Alaska House Majority Coalition that includes Democratic, Republican and Independent legislators. The Majority formed around the consensus that the Legislature must pass a budget plan THIS year. Alaska cannot afford to wait another year. No one knows what form a budget plan will take, but I’ll be working to ensure it is fair and equitable to all Alaskans; and of course keep you informed on developments as the legislative session progresses.
I am now serving in the House of Representatives as chair of the Energy Committee, co-chair of the Transportation Committee, vice-chair of the Labor & Commerce Committee and as a member of the State Affairs Committee. In addition I am on Finance Subcommittees for the Departments of Administration, Environmental Conservation, Transportation, Labor, Revenue, and the University.
New Legislative Staff
I would like to introduce my new Legislative Staff who will be working with me in my office in Juneau.
Rob Earl has worked in the legislature 11 years. He will be covering the Energy Committee (that I chair) and the Departments of Environmental Conservation and Revenue subcommittees. Rob is also carrying HB 80, my legislation that would allow boroughs and municipalities that have property taxes to create a commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. PACE is designed to lower energy bills through low interest loans for energy source retrofits and weatherization. This legislation will help clean the air and aid in natural gas conversion in Fairbanks. More information: http://akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Detail/30?Root=HB%20%2080
Laura Stidolph serves as my committee aide for the House Transportation Committee that I chair with Representative Stutes. She will also be carrying legislation for me and staffing the House Labor & Commerce Committee of which I am vice chair. This is Laura’s fifth year as a staffer with the legislature and she is also a small business owner in Juneau, where she was born and raised. At the end of this session she will welcome her second child, a son, into this world along with her daughter Bessa and partner Keith.
Jim Whitney is covering the State Affairs Committee, the Department of Administration and University of Alaska subcommittees, as well as schedules, accounting, and constituent assistance. Jim has a background in archaeology and has lived in Fairbanks for 20 years.
Swearing In for the 30th Alaska Legislature
Before heading to Juneau, I attended a UAF Nanooks Basketball game where I presented a Legislative Citation honoring the UAF Men’s Basketball Team for earning the HERO Sports NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Breakout Team of the Year award. I also presented a Citation honoring head coach Mick Durham on his 300th National Collegiate Athletic Association victory. I recognize the importance of athletics at our University and in our community. Good luck to all the Nanooks teams in the new season!
I visited Dr. Brandon Boylan at the UAF Political Science Department to present a Legislative Citation commending the organizers and participants of the first Model Arctic Council held at UAF last March. 65 students from 32 Universities experienced intergovernmental affairs first hand by participating in a simulated meeting of the Arctic Council.
Hope for Alaska
I’m excited to be in Juneau this session and am optimistic that we will pass very meaningful legislation towards solving our fiscal crisis. There seems to be a new feeling in the hallways partly due to the fact that there are many new legislators (15) – I look forward to working with them. It’s great to get new energy in the legislature and it feels like everyone wants to get something done.
As always, please contact me with your thoughts, ideas, and concerns.