January 24, 2020
Dear friends + neighbors,
Happy New Year! I’m thankful we’re past the hump of winter solstice and moving forward to spring! This week we began the second regular session of the 31st Legislature. I am ready for a productive session in Juneau.
One of the main areas of focus this year continues to be working toward a sustainable budget. The Governor has put forward a largely “status quo” budget, while also asking to drain our nearly depleted savings to pay for a dividend that would threaten the funding of essential services Bethel and the YK Delta relies on. I am committed to working with my colleagues to fund the largest dividend possible that does not endanger critical services like PCE, public safety, Medicaid, education or our ability to pay future dividends.
Today, the House and the Senate convened a joint floor session to consider an override of vetoes by Governor Dunleavy of FY2020 funding for the Alaska Marine Highway System and school bond debt reimbursement. Although we were a few votes short of overturning the vetoes, I’m proud to have had one more chance to fight for quality education for our children and a robust marine highway system that benefits all of Alaska's economy.
I’m proud to get back to work chairing the House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs. In 2019, we spent a lot of time discussing the role of tribes, Native organizations, rural public safety, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). Over the summer, we celebrated the signing of HB 126 into law, permanently establishing November as Alaska Native Heritage Month. HB 126 was the first ever bill sponsored by our historic new committee.
This session the Tribal Affairs committee will continue to focus on elevating Alaska Native issues within the Capitol and across Alaska. I anticipate that we will continue to work on opportunities for the State to compact with tribes, the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women, rural public safety, and much more.
Also this year, I will serve as sole chair of the House Health and Social Services Committee. As chair, my office will be responsible for setting the policy agenda and committee hearing schedule.
This committee oversees the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS); the largest, most complex department within our state. Some of the larger functions of DHSS are administering the Medicaid program, various public assistance programs such as SNAP and senior benefits, child welfare, the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, Alaska Pioneer Homes, public health services, and much more.
We have already begun the the DHSS budget subcommittee process. I am looking forward to working with leadership at DHSS to find a path forward after the Governor’s short-sighted budget cuts and vetoes last year. I appreciate the need to find efficiencies within such a large and complex budget, but it is paramount that we preserve affordable and accessible human services and health care for Alaskans. 
I invite you to reach out to my office anytime. My staff would be happy to assist you with any constituent issues that might need our attention. Please let us know if you have any plans to travel to Juneau because I would love to see you!
Meet My Staff!
Katy Giorgio joined my team in early 2019. Her primary role is serving as my Committee Aide for Health and Social Services. Before jumping into her new legislative role, Katy spent seven years working for the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Rice University and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Alaska Southeast. Outside the Capitol building, you can usually find Katy playing trombone in the Juneau Symphony and other groups around Alaska's capital city. She is often spotted on beaches or trails in town with her an Instagram-famous border collie Butters.
Logan Basner was born and raised in Palmer and joined my office in May 2019. This session he will work as my Committee Aide for the House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs. Logan has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Minnesota and has a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Prior to joining my staff he worked as a legislative aide for Representative Zack Fields (D-Anchorage), and as research director for Northern Compass Group. In his free time Logan loves playing soccer, traveling, and going on adventures in the great outdoors.
Julia Buschmann joined my office for the 2020 legislative session and will focus on education policy, scheduling, and support health and social services work. She was born and raised in Petersburg and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Sociology from Whitman College. Julia most recently held an internship with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. where she focused on state-level Medicaid policy. Her previous experience includes supporting housing and homelessness services and electoral reform. Outside of work, Julia is likely exploring nearby trails, finding balance in a headstand, or experimenting with new recipes. 
Angela Kaiyira Jenkins is our 2020 First Alaskans Institute Public Policy Fellow. She is a student at the University of Alaska Anchorage and has one daughter, Addison Akalleq Martin. Angela is from Emmonak. Her mother and father are Josephine Benedict and Dario Notti. Angela will provide staff support in my work on the Special Committee on Energy. Outside the office, her hobbies include beading, reading, and “playing out” with Addison and their dog Lily. After session, Angela and Addison will return to Emmonak for the summer to help her grandparents subsist.
*The First Alaskans Institute Public Policy Fellowship program places interested Alaska Natives in partnering legislative offices in Juneau, Alaska. The goal of the legislative fellowship is for emerging Native leaders to become familiar with the legislative process; gain an understanding their own histories; learn and use the skill of past, present and future leadership; and learn about emerging issues confronting Alaska Natives and the State of Alaska. Like the Summer Internship Program, participants will have a real work experience giving them hands-on experience with the legislative and political process.
Katy Giorgio
Health & Social Services
Committee Aide
Julia Buschmann
Education Committee Staff
Logan Basner
Tribal Affairs
Committee Aide
´╗┐Angela Jenkins
Energy Committee Staff