Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It's already the end of week FOUR of the session! And while there was a feeling of frenetic energy in the Capitol last week, the House did not vote on a single bill in a floor session. Each day we met as a body and went through the motions of the calendar: read citations, announcements, introduction of guests, special order speeches, etc. I am hopeful we will see the Majority members moving bills through the committee process so that they can get to the House Floor for votes. I know all of you join me in wishing to see things progressing more quickly, so that we do not go into overtime at the end of the session. But early signs are not promising with this Majority.


It certainly feels like the Majority, who controls the agenda, is not united on a direction for several of the bills and so they sit, and my guess is that the more critical bills will wait until negotiations at the end of the session. And therein lies why many of us complain that bills involving education are treated simply as bargaining chips, leaving a sense that our students are being used as pawns in a big political game of chess.


A few of the bills that I think may make a difference for many Alaskans (those involve retirement benefits for all public employees, family leave, and support for investigations of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in Alaska, and of course, fiscal certainty for our schools) remain stalled by the Majority in some form or other. I very much hope to see the log jam holding these needed bills bust open soon, but I'm not holding my breath.


In this newsletter, I will share a bit more news on where bills are in the process, and what I have been hearing from you and other Alaskans in the Capitol.


As always, please feel free to reach out to my office by phone, email, social media, or through my constituent survey in the days and weeks to come. If you happen to be in Juneau this session, please come by! We love welcoming folks from home.

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In the Capitol

Bills on the Move

HB 89 Child Care Program Grant Tax Credits- Sponsored by Representative Coulombe

This bill creates tax credits to those who pay corporate taxes (oil, gas, mining, etc) based on the amounts they pay to provide childcare benefits for their employees.

This bill also raises the income level for families to be eligible for childcare stipends, above the federal limits.

Because the bill does not create a similar tax credit for donations that go toward the desperately underfunded State Childcare Grant Program which could help grow more childcare centers and provide assistance for ALL Alaskans, I offered an amendment to the bill in the Finance Committee. The amendment would have allowed for credits to the same entities if they choose to spend their money to more fully fund the statewide childcare grant program already in place.

This amendment was inspired by the Juneau Childcare Grant Program (modeled after the state program, but FUNDED). Juneau was a childcare desert in 2020 and then the City and Borough of Juneau voted to fund a new local program that offers meaningful stipends to families for care and childcare centers for materials. Now, only four years later, Juneau families no longer experience long wait times to find child care; and child care worker salaries average $18 an hour, no longer $12 an hour. This affects not only oil, gas, and mining families, but ALL families in Juneau, including military families.

My amendment failed and the vote was along majority/minority lines. Still, I support the bill as a first step and look forward to more work ahead that will make a meaningful difference for the many families and employers who I know consider childcare one of our top priorities!

SB88 Retirement Reform Bill (Sponsored by Cathy Giessel) moves from the Senate to the House. This has been a long sought-after solution to the outmigration of skilled workers who get trained here then leave to another state because we are the only state without a defined benefit retirement system. Our police officers, firefighters, educators, and more are deserving of some semblance of certainty in their retirement program here in Alaska. Many think this is an important part of attracting and keeping our working families here in Alaska. This bill will be heard in State Affairs, Labor and Commerce, and then Finance Committees, before going to the Floor for a vote.

Finance Sub-Committee Process - This week (and for the next week or two) the House began meeting in subcommittees looking at each component of next year's operating budget that we must agree on and pass. Assignments are organized by department and finance members are assigned to the various subcommittees. I am assigned to the Natural Resources, the Labor and Workforce Development, the University, and the Military Affairs subcommittees.

Joining our brothers and sisters recognizing and celebrating strides in civil rights & working for continued justice

It was an honor to join Senator Gray-Jackson as Co-Sponsor of a bill to designate Juneteenth - June 19th - a State Holiday


Thank-you to those of you who wrote and called to testify this week on SB 22 - An Act establishing Juneteenth Day as a legal holiday in Alaska. It will be exciting to track the movement of this bill as it is already a Federal law.

As February unfolds, we celebrate Black History Month. This month serves as a profound reminder of the tremendous contributions of Black Americans and the strides taken toward racial justice and the work that still lies ahead.

Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson is primary sponsor of SB 22, designating Juneteenth as a state holiday

Every Voice Matters -

Meetings with Alaskans

Working on your behalf, much of my job is listening to representatives from non-profit and for-profit organizations and everyday Alaskans who have ideas about how Alaska can be stronger and better resourced in a myriad of ways. I prioritize meetings with constituents, who I always make time for, and instruct my staff to try to say YES to every meeting request, time permitting, even if it is 'on the fly'. I am available to meet in the early morning, throughout the day, and often into the night as people who make it all the way to Juneau, have practical ideas about how the laws we debate and pass can serve Alaskans. As a business owner, a healthcare provider, a group or workers in a particular sector, a school board member, etc. they have expertise that will inform my work and every voice matters in democracy.


Below are some of the highlights of the week:

AARP Alaska

It is always a pleasure to welcome a group of advocates for seniors to the Juneau office. Fun fact: did you know there are more than 75,000 AARP members statewide? With this much participation, I am confident they will enjoy success in their legislative priorities of funding senior safety net programs, healthcare access, improved public services, and financial security.

Alaska Children's Trust

Alaska Children's Trust's Jen and Eliza visited to update me on their legislative priorities; Daycare Assistance, Paid Family Leave, and eliminating predatory payday loans. Please see more about the economic costs of child abuse and neglect here.

We share many of the same priorities as we envision a future where all Alaska's children are living in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment.

Anchorage educational leaders and colleagues in front of student art at Anchorage in the State Museum.


AK Council of School Administrators Meet with Educational Leaders

It was wonderful to see art from students all over Alaska as well as performance by Juneau students.


Alaska Center for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Janice Weiss, the new Executive Director of the Alaska Center for FASD, and friends Jenna and Terri visited to share the 9 Core Messages of 'What Everyone Should Know About Prenatal Alcohol Exposure' by the FASD Strategic Plan Work Group. Their annual newsletter shows how busy they have been and I hope you got to catch the film premiered last Fall '8 Keys for Adults with FASD' by Dan Redfield at the Beartooth. Thank you for informing us in such creative ways about the risks of using alcohol during pregnancy.

UAA Doctor of Pharmacy Students

Dr. Dirk White, Sitka Pharmacist and Pharmacy students enrolled at UAA came by with information on their program. It was delightful to meet pharmacy student and constituent Megan (far right), who shared she is eager to graduate and support rural Alaskan communities to access reliable pharmacy services and medications. One of the primary roadblocks to reasonably priced medications are Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) There is a bill making it's way through process on this matter, more to come in a future newsletter! Thanks to all these hard working students!


Murdered Missing Indigenous Women, Girls & 2 Spirit Working Group

A team from the Alaska Native Women's Resource Center shared what the Indigenous-led Working Group have been up to. Convened in 2018, the Working Group meet weekly to share communications, strategy, actions, and build capacity in communities to address the MMWIG2S in our state, including keeping better track of data and ensuring there is statewide notice when someone goes missing. Everyone has the right to be free from violence and I join these women in demanding justice and protective action. It was such an honor to meet Kelsey, Autumn and Tatiana, current and future leaders shaping our state.

Anchorage School District and new opportunities for YOU!

ASD Sr. Director of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Kersten Johnson, presented at a Lunch & Learn on Academies of Anchorage. Adding to the Graduation Diploma is Career Pathway, Community Connections and Strong Workplace Skills. The launch this Fall is with Freshmen and there are many opportunities for YOU (and your business) to participate; on a tactic team, in work-based learning, field trips, guest speaker, job shadow, internships, career expo, and mock interviews. Contact academies@asdk12.org for more information.

Dr. Kersten Johnson and Bartlett High School Principal Sean Prince.

ENSTAR Natural Gas Company

Lindsey Walker and a team from ENSTAR visited to alert my colleagues and me to the energy emergency in Southcentral Alaska. Cook Inlet natural gas depletion is a serious issue as it serves as the primary source of heat and electrical energy for half the state. Energy shortages may pose a threat to public safety and the region's economy in coming years. Partnering with Utility Working Group members, ENSTAR identified near and long-term gas supply solutions for Cook Inlet gas users. Three projects rose to the top, yet no single supply project would solve the shortage by 2027/2028. A longer-term solution proposed is imported liquified natural gas (LNG). There will be much more on this in the weeks to come.

Housing Alaskans - A Public-Private Partnership (HAPPP)

With a projected need for more than 27,000 additional housing units within the next ten years, I was very interested in HAPPP's accelerator approach. Board members Preston Simmons and Mike Huston shared an update about the efforts to grow housing throughout Alaska. In less than two years, there were able to pull resources and projects together to to support hundreds of new housing units throughout the state. Link https://housingalaskans.com/


Mariculture; exploding business of the future

A wonderful presentation by the Southwest and Southeast Alaska Municipal Conference told us about exciting mariculture opportunities in workforce development and business. It was wonderful to meet a constituent at this unch & Learn, working to expand possibilities for our future economy.


Women In Mining Launch

The Alaska Mining Association meeting featured the launch of an Alaska Chapter for the national Women in Mining group to further their commitment to positioning mining as an equitable, sustainable, and reputable industry. Representative Himschoot and I joined to see this non-profit in action. Learn more here https://www.womeninmining.us/chapters/alaska-chapter/

Governor Dunleavy's Presser

Have a listen to the press availability held by the Governor this week. It was one of the more confusing ones I have heard. There seems to be a real disconnect between where the Governor wants to go on a couple of issues and what I am hearing form the vast majority of Alaskans on those topics. https://www.ktoo.org/video/gavel/governor-dunleavy-press-availability-2024021085/


Hometown News

Municipality of Anchorage Launches Online Checkbook

 February 8, 2024

Assembly Chair Christopher Constant announced the public release of the “MOA Online Checkbook,” an online record of municipal transactions. After one year of development, the dashboard launched this morning: www.muni.org/online-checkbook


The online dashboard is the first version of a municipal service established by AO 2023-13, approved by the Assembly in February 2023. Assembly Chair Christopher Constant and Assembly Members Kevin Cross and Daniel Volland sponsored the ordinance alongside former Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance with a focus on fair, open government and the Municipality’s value for transparency.

 

The Online Checkbook will update monthly, posting recent transactions, unaudited revenue and procured contracts with historic information dated back to 2018.




Public Service Announcement: Protect Your Property — Roof Snow Load Awareness

February 7, 2024

 

Attention Anchorage Residents,

 

In light of the record-breaking snowfalls witnessed over the past two winters, the Building Safety division of the Municipality is issuing a critical reminder to all building owners and occupants. The accumulation of snow on roofs has led to significant structural issues, with sixteen roof collapses reported during the winter of 2022-2023 and at least eight incidents already occurring this winter.

 

To ensure the safety of your property and those around you, we urge you to take proactive measures. Here are some essential steps to safeguard your building:

 

  1. Assess Your Building: Take the time to evaluate the amount of snow on your roof. Excessive accumulation can pose a serious risk to the structural integrity of your property.

 

  1. Safe Snow Removal: If conditions warrant, safely remove snow from your roof. If you plan to hire a professional, ensure they are licensed, bonded, and insured to include Workers Compensation insurance. Exercise caution and use appropriate tools to prevent injuries and damage to the roof. Click here to view the municipality’s snow removal guidance handout.

 

  1. Professional Inspection: If you have concerns about the stability of your building, consider hiring a structural engineer to conduct a thorough inspection. Their expertise can provide valuable insights into potential risks.

 

  1. Information Resources: Visit www.Muni.org for detailed handouts, truss information, and resources on when to consider snow removal. Stay informed about warning signs that indicate the need for action.

 

For further assistance and inquiries, please contact the Building Safety division at 907-343-8301 or visit www.muni.org.Your proactive efforts can make a significant difference in preventing roof collapses and ensuring the safety of our community.

 

Let's work together to keep Anchorage safe and resilient in the face of extreme winter conditions.

 

Contact

Ross Noffsinger

Engineering Services Manager/Acting Building Official

Phone: 907-343-8309

Email: Ross.Noffsinger@anchorageak.gov

 

 

Find o

Serving you,

District 14 Community Council Schedule

You're always invited to your local neighborhood gathering!

Tudor

Spenard

Rogers Park

Midtown

March 7th



7 p.m.


Fire Station Four

February 7th


7 p.m.


Spenard Rec Center

February 12th


7 p.m.


Rogers Park Elementary School Library

February 14th


12 p.m.


3000 "C" St. Building

We Look Forward to Hearing From and Serving You

Representative Alyse Galvin


Anchorage LIO

1500 W Benson Blvd.

Room 325

Anchorage, AK 99503


Office: 907-465-3875

Representative.Alyse.Galvin@akleg.gov

Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson


Anchorage LIO

1500 W Benson Blvd.

Room 328

Anchorage, AK 99503


Office: 907-269-0174

Senator.Elvi.Gray-Jackson@akleg.gov

Congresswoman

Mary Peltola


Anchorage Office:

121 W Fireweed Ln, Ste. 260

Anchorage, AK 99503

 

Phone: 907-921-6575


Peltola.House.Gov

Senator

Lisa Murkowski


510 L Street

Suite 600

Anchorage, AK 99501


Phone: (907) 271-3735


Murkowski.Senate.Gov

Senator

Dan Sullivan


510 L Street

Suite 750

Anchorage, AK 99501


Phone: (907) 271-5915


Sullivan.Senate.Gov

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