February 13, 2020
Dear friends + neighbors,
Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you spend the day with your significant other or in the great company of several loved ones, may this day offer you a moment to pause and appreciate the wonderful people in your life. 
House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs 
On Tuesday, we held the first House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs hearing of the 2020 session. Natasha Singh, General Counsel for Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC), and Verné Boerner, President + CEO of the Alaska Native Health Board, presented on the Alaska Tribal Health Compact. Given all the conversation and interest in Tribal compacting, it was great to hear about the 25-year Federal-Tribal compact that has been implemented so successfully by Alaska’s tribes. Serving as a nationwide model, Alaska’s Tribal Health Compact has significantly contributed to improving Alaska Native health outcomes, while also greatly benefiting the state’s economy.
As the Legislature continues our conversations about opportunities for State-Tribal compacting, we must ensure we consult with Tribes in the development of any proposals, as well as provide the resources needed to ensure subsequent compacts are successful. If Alaska Tribes are successful, the State will be successful.
HB 221, State Recognition of Tribes
This week we held a hearing on HB 221, relating to State recognition of Tribes, by Representative Kopp. The committee heard invited testimony from Natasha Singh (TCC), Joy Anderson (AVCP), Holly Handler (Alaska Legal Services Corporation), and President Richard Peterson (Tlingit & Haida). I believe this legislation is a thoughtful step toward recognizing tribes and reconciling historic relationships for a bright future of collaboration.
Budget Subcommittee Updates
Health & Social Services
On Thursday, the finance subcommittee on Health and Social Services finalized our recommendations on the FY21 budget, which included the restoration of funding for several programs that Governor Dunleavy sought to greatly reduce or eliminate in FY20. The subcommittee restored funding for the Medicaid Adult Preventative Dental program, which provides basic dental services, and Adult Public Assistance that serves aged, blind and disabled Alaskans in need. The budget we passed out of committee also funds the Medicaid program at a level more in line with actual spending, in the hope of fully funding Medicaid for FY21. It is my hope, this prevents DHSS from seeking a massive supplemental or freezing payments to providers who offer essential health services to Alaskans. 
Restoration of Suicide Prevention Grant Funding
In 2019, the passage of SB 10 reauthorized the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council and provides much-needed grants in FY20 for suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. However, the grant funding for subsequent fiscal years was removed from the program in House Finance before the legislation was signed by the Governor in 2019. This week, I was proud to offer an amendment to the DHSS budget that restored $400,000 to the program in FY21.
Alaska has the highest suicide rate in the nation overall (especially among American Indian/Alaska Native males) and Alaska teens (ages 15-19) have three times the national average of deaths by suicide. The statewide prevention grants provide staff training and build student resiliency. Educators have reported that, in the time these grants have been available, graduation rates have increased.
Budget recommendations will now be considered by the House Finance Committee.
On Wednesday, we began the budget closeout process for the Department of Education and Early Development, where we considered budget action items from the Administration and assess amendments.
The Governor proposed eliminating the Online with Libraries (OWL) video conference program, which provides statewide equipment and technology at public libraries that enables Alaskans to participate in online training, economic development capacity building and engage in public meetings. The subcommittee rejected the proposed elimination of the program and I offered an amendment directing the Department to consult with users of the program, as well as to consider alternative cost-effective measures that ensure access before the next legislative session.
Elder Services
As our loved ones age, we face new challenges as primary caregivers, families, and communities. It can be extremely difficult and scary facing these challenges, especially in rural Alaska where services can be sparse and distant. The good news is, there are resources available that can help caregivers and families navigate and access support and services.
Through the Senior and Disabilities Services Division (DHSS), there are Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs). Alaska ADRCs connect seniors, people with disabilities, and caregivers with long-term services and supports of their choice. The ADRC network serves Alaskans statewide, regardless of age or income level, through regional sites
ADRCs are part of a Federal effort to help people more easily access the long-term services and supports available in their communities. This may include transportation, assistive technology, or in-home care. ADRC specialists counsel callers and visitors on long-term supports that fit their circumstances. People choose which services they would like, then the ADRC specialists help people access those services.
The statewide number is 1-855-565-2017 (toll-free). Western Alaska is served by the Bristol Bay Native Association, and you can reach them toll-free at 1-844-842-5257.
Another valuable resource is the Alzheimer’s Association, a national organization focused on Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Today, roughly 8,000 Alaskans are living with this disease; that number is expected to increase by 37.5% in the next five years. The Alzheimer’s Association has a free 24/7 Helpline that allows people living with the disease, caregivers and families to access a wide range of support services. You can reach their Helpline at 1-800-272-3900 or visit www.alz.org
Friends + Constituents in the office
Lower Kuskokwim School District
I had a wonderful time meeting Board Members and students of the Lower Kuskokwim School District this week. We discussed the need for increased broadband in rural communities, social-emotional education in schools, and the importance of Tribal consultation. 
Back row (from L-R): Michelle Tefft (Assistant Principal for the Anna Tobeluk Memorial School), Thor Williams (Board Treasurer, Bethel), Ethan Sundown (Student Representative to LKSD Board, Bethel), and Jaden Andrew (student, Nunapitchuk). Front row (from L-R): Patrick Williams (teacher, LKSD), John Mark (Board Vice President, Quinhagak), Bessie Westom (Board Member, Mekoryuk), and Eliza Enoch (student, Nunapitchuk).
(Eliza turned 18 on the day of our visit. Happy Birthday, Eliza!)
Yupiit School Board
Members of the Yupiit School Board sat down with me to discuss their concerns and the needs of students in their school district. The board highlighted the accomplishments of new maintenance director, Judy Anderson, and her work in the district to keep the generator for the school in Tuluksak up-to-code and running well. A highlight of the visit was when former Representative Ivan Ivan, speaking about compacting, said “we can handle our own, we just need support from the State.” Rep. Ivan, like many elders, understand the importance of teaching our children Yuuyaraq, the way of being.
(from L-R): Samuel George, Peter Gregory, Ivan Ivan, and Moses Owen
Child Advocacy Center of Bethel
I had an amazing visit with Carmen Pitka (Bethel) and Gail Evanoff (Seward) this week.
Both of these amazing women have earned a Bachelor’s in Social Work through the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rural Human Services (RHS) program and are now pursuing a Master’s. Developed for Alaska village-based human service providers, the program was designed for rural residents who are natural healers in their communities and to help in developing skills and credentials in the helping profession. I took a moment to thank Carmen for her work in the Child Advocacy Center at the Tundra Women’s Coalition.
RHS offers a culturally appropriate training program designed for rural, village-based human service workers. Skills and training are provided in services such as crisis intervention, suicide prevention, community development, and counseling in mental health, substance abuse, interpersonal violence, grief, and healing. You can learn more about this program at https://uaf.edu/rhs/.
(from L-R): Gail Evanoff (Seward) and Carmen Pitka (Bethel)
Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education
It was lovely to visit with Josh Gill (Bethel) and Elizabeth Joseph (Kongiganak) last week. They were in Juneau advocating for home and community-based services (HCBS) for people with disabilities and the "shared vision," a flexible system in which each Alaskan directs their own supports, based on their strengths and abilities, toward a meaningful life in their home, their job and their community.
I loved Josh's tie with a photo of his daughter, Olivia, on it!

If you would like to learn more about HBCS, the Shared Disability Vision and Supported Decision-Making Agreements, please visit the Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education website HERE.
This past weekend I was excited to have the opportunity to join a mock committee and listen to testimony from high school students from communities all across Alaska practice testifying before the legislature. The students' testimony was well-researched, candid, and inspiring. I walked away excited about all the incredibly smart and motivated young people in Alaska's school system. Quyana to the Youth Advocacy Institute for the invitation to join you.
On Monday, I addressed the 2020 Alaska Planning Conference via video-conference from my office in the Capitol. I talked about my work as chair of the Health and Social Services and Tribal Affairs Committees, as well as potential opportunities for the State to compact improve partnerships in rural Alaska.
Infographic courtesy of YKHC
Census 2020!
Language Resources for 2020 Census
Along with voting, the Census is one of our most important civic duties as Americans and Alaskans. Accurate Census data determines voting districts, as well as the amount of federal money made available to our communities for health, housing, transportation and several other services. Be counted! 
Alaska Counts has translated Census materials into various Alaska Native languages. Yup’ik language guides and PSAs are available below. You can also access all of the language resources here.
Two Yup’ik PSAs, here and here
Indian Country Counts
Applications for the second round of Census 2020 Community Grants is now open! Indian Country Counts is National Congress of American Indians' initiative to encourage all American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) to complete the 2020 Census. A second wave of community grants for community events and efforts in support of the 2020 Census are now available from Indian Country Counts. 
More information can be found on the National Congress of American Indians website HERE.
Visit Us in Juneau!
If you will be in Juneau, please come visit me at the Capitol! Contact my office to schedule a time to stop in tosay hello. Also, if you are visiting on a day we have floor session, I would be thrilled to introduce you on the House Floor!
Legislative Citations
I would love to hear from you if you have a suggestion for a legislative citation of importance to District 38!
What is a citation? It is an official document expressing commendation, condolences, appreciation or congratulations to an individual or group.
There are two types of citations:
"Honorarium" recognizes a person, organization, or special occasion.
"In Memorium" honors someone who has recently passed away.
Please feel free to call or e-mail my office if you have any questions.
Katy Giorgio
Health & Social Services
Committee Aide
Julia Buschmann
Education Committee Staff
Logan Basner
Tribal Affairs
Committee Aide
Angela Jenkins
Energy Committee Staff