February 27, 2018
Budget Testimony this Thursday for Fairbanks
Friends, Neighbors, and Fellow Fairbanksans,
We have now reached the 7th week of the 2018 legislative session, which is about halfway through the regular 90-day session. Last week, we finished the budget subcommittee process, and the State’s budget has now been sent back to Finance for review and to take public testimony.
As a part of the subcommittee process, I was allowed to make amendments to the University of Alaska’s budget. I am proud to report that my amendment to restore the University’s budget for the coming year by $19 million (for a total of $336 million for the University) passed out of the subcommittee. While this was shy of the Board of Regent’s funding request ($24 million for a total of $341 million,) it was well above the funding level proposed by the Governor ($317 million) for the upcoming year. I am confident that this funding level can be maintained as the budget makes its way through the House, and I am hopeful that the Senate will vote to maintain this funding as well. You can find two Newsminer articles about this decision here and here.
Additionally, the Board of Regents will be meeting in Fairbanks this week on Thursday and Friday in the Butrovich Building on the UAF campus. These meetings are open to the public and are a great opportunity to express your views on the University. For more information, go to here.
State Budget Testimony for Fairbanks this Thursday from 3:15pm-4:45pm
If you would like to share your opinion on the State’s Operating Budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2019, there is an opportunity to testify this Thursday, March 1rst. Testimony for people from Fairbanks will be taken between 3:15pm and 4:45pm at the LIO (Legislative Information Office,) which is located at 1292 Sadler Way on the third floor of the Alaska USA building. If you would like to testify, please arrive at the LIO by 2:45pm to sign up. You can also call 465-4648 to obtain a call-in number. If neither of these options works for you, you may also email your comments to the House Finance committee at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime between now and March 3rd at 1:00pm.
I look forward to reviewing the budget testimony this week, and I thank testifiers in advance for taking time out of your busy schedule to participate in the decision-making process.
Two New Bills: On-Bill Financing and Railbelt Electric Transmission
Last week was the deadline for me to introduce new legislation for this year’s session. I had been working on a few ideas for a while, and am excited to announce two new bills that will have their first hearings in the House Energy committee in the coming weeks.
House Bill 374 - On-Bill Financing: This bill would allow a utility to voluntarily create an “on-bill financing” program to help customers finance energy improvements. This legislation will be particularly useful when the Interior Energy Project is operational and a large number of Fairbanks residents choose to convert from oil to natural gas to heat their homes. The on-bill financing program allows a utility customer to borrow money for an energy improvement and then repay it through a “meter conservation charge” on their utility bill. A customer’s utility bill, even with the meter conservation charge, can often immediately be less due to savings in energy costs realized from increased efficiency. Besides converting to gas, other qualifying energy improvements include adding solar panels or other renewable energy systems to a house or converting to a cleaner burning wood stove.
House Bill 382 - Railbelt Electric Transmission: This bill calls for the establishment of a Railbelt Electric System Authority. While Railbelt utilities and the RCA should be commended for the increased level of cooperation between the utilities recently, passage of HB 382 would ensure much greater cooperation and would increase the Railbelt electrical system’s reliability while reducing the cost to rate payers.
Under HB 382, a Railbelt Electric System Authority would:
Guests in the Capitol
Aside from committee meetings and bill hearings, I have been kept busy with many visits to my office. Recently, my staff and I have had the pleasure of meeting with University Alumni, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly, the Mayor of North Pole, 4-H youth, early childhood education advocates from ThrivALASKA and FNA Headstart, and with many others from Fairbanks. I thank everyone for calling, emailing, and even coming down to visit with me.
Last week, the Legislature heard from U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski during her annual address. After the speech, I stood to ask her about the recent violence in Florida, and her approach for addressing the mass shooting epidemic at the Federal level. As a parent of school-age children and a lawmaker, these incidents have been extremely painful to hear about and I think it is time that our State and National leaders address these issues head on.
If you want to hear the question I asked Senator Murkowski and her response, click here.
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 email@example.com. Individuals can also subscribe to the news list by emailing me. We look forward to hearing from you!
Representative Adam Wool