Update From Juneau
Dear Friends, Neighbors, and fellow Fairbanksans:
I hope everyone is having a great winter. It’s warmer but rainier here in Juneau – I miss Fairbanks even this time of year. I appreciate the weekends I’ve been able to come home.
I’ll be sending an update on legislative efforts to solve Alaska’s budget crisis soon. In the meantime I want to inform you about activities in the committees I chair and co-chair.
Energy Committee – Chair Adam Wool
I’m chairing the House Energy committee this session. Obviously energy issues are very important to Fairbanks and the entire state – I’m working to see where I can help. So far we have passed HB 80, Municipal Property Assessed Clean Energy Act, which I sponsored out of this committee (see more on HB 80 below).
The Energy Committee also heard HB 81, the More Energy Efficient Buildings Act, that would give nonprofit organizations and federally-recognized tribes the power to apply for loans from the Alaska Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund.
We also had a presentation from the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) on their recent report Alaska Affordable Energy Strategy: A Framework for Consumer Energy Sustainability Outside of the Railbelt.
In coming weeks in the committee we will be hearing from AEA on all their programs, with an emphasis on Power Cost Equalization; from the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) on leveraging Alaska's global leadership in microgrids; and we’ll have an overview on the history and current state of railbelt electrical energy generation and distribution.
House Bill 80 – Municipal Property Assessed Clean Energy Act
HB 80 creates the Municipal Property Assessed Clean Energy Act, which establishes a uniform process that local governments follow to create a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing mechanism at their discretion. Local PACE financing would incentivize energy efficiency improvements to commercial buildings by allowing use of the existing property tax collection mechanism as a means of servicing loans for energy efficiency improvements and alternative energy installation on commercial property. Thirty-two other states have enabled PACE financing structures and use of the mechanism is growing across the nation.
Commercial property owners like PACE because:
This bill passed the House Floor 36-1 and now moves on to consideration in the Senate.
House Transportation Committee – Co-Chairs Adam Wool and Louise Stutes
House Bill 60, an act raising the motor, aviation, and marine fuel tax, is the only revenue-generating bill introduced as of yet and will continue being heard in the House Transportation Committee February 14thand 16th. We are doing our best to thoroughly vet the bill before possibly sending it on to the next committee. So far we have heard public testimony, industry testimony, and will be hearing from the Office of Management & Budget this week about where exactly the revenue will be used to help with our state’s infrastructure and operating expenses. The motor fuel tax has not been raised in Alaska since 1971.
HB 16 – Peace Officer Education on Interacting with Persons with Non-Apparent Disabilities
HB 16, sponsored by Fairbanks’ Rep. Steve Thompson, helps Alaska peace officers become aware of when they are dealing with persons with non-apparent disabilities and helps to ensure these interactions don’t result in miscommunications or even tragedy. HB 16 passed the House of Representatives on February 8 and now moves on to the Senate for consideration.
Does Fairbanks Want Ridesharing?
What do you think about ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft? Would that work in Fairbanks and is there a need? Any concerns? Please email me back or call my office and share your thoughts.
Follow the Alaska Legislature
As always, please contact me with your thoughts, ideas, and concerns.