Working Together

All over our country, there are signs of intense division in our political system, communities, and nearly every corner of society. Our Alaska House Majority is made up of people with vastly different ideological views – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – who set aside major disagreements to work together on the things we agreed on as Alaskans. A willingness to work together with people of different political stripes is remarkable in these times, but we followed through on this core value. Nowhere was this more exemplified than when we put aside our differences with the governor and other lawmakers to pass emergency COVID-19 legislation to ensure people in need get help.

Quality Representation for all Alaskans Protecting Alaska’s Future.

In 2018, individual Alaskans, businesses, communities, and nonprofits faced an existential threat when the governor introduced a budget with debilitating cuts to essential services. The Alaska House Majority shared the outrage of the countless people across our state who rallied against cuts that would force seniors out of Pioneer Homes, increase class sizes or close small schools, diminish our ability to hold criminals accountable, shatter our University system, eliminate the Marine Highway System, and hurt our state in countless other ways. To protect Alaska and her future, our response was to prevent many of these damaging cuts from ever taking place, averting irreparable harm to Alaska’s economy and our most vulnerable. Of our accomplishments, we are most proud of our work to build a government that is accountable to Alaskans and provides quality representation for everyone, whether they come from a big city or a remote village.

Responsible Budget Reform.

Alaska faces unprecedented economic and financial challenges caused by the collapse in oil prices, COVID-19, the lack of a comprehensive plan to pay for essential services, and depleted state savings accounts. The Alaska House Majority has consistently fought for responsible reforms that would ensure stable funding for schools, troopers, roads, and all the other important roles our government plays. Our budget experts also followed through on their promise for responsible budget reform and made $200 million in careful cuts that put downward pressure on government. We passed healthy Permanent Fund Dividends each of the past two years and rejected attempts to overspend from the Permanent Fund and pay for services or dividends we cannot afford on the backs of our grandchildren.


One reason budget reform is so difficult in Alaska is because of our boom and bust economy, which follows the boom and bust oil price cycle. For a time, high production volumes were enough to keep the state flush. Now, with price and production on an uneven and downward trend respectively, Alaska must make choices about its future.
Wise legislators leading up to 2012 saved billions of dollars from Alaska’s oil wealth. Despite ballooning budgets, a majority of legislators saw the wisdom of saving some of that extra money that came from $120/barrel oil away. It is due to the wisdom of those legislators that Alaska was able to weather the fiscal storm of the past six years. With no savings accounts left to turn to though, Alaska’s situation gets a little tighter.
It took about a year for the legislature to respond to crashing oil revenue in 2014, but they did. Billions have been cut from the budget since the high of FY13 and cuts continued into FY17 when small increases were allowed to account for years of cuts. That trend was reversed this year as our budget woes took a turn.
Some may not realize, but cuts have had an enormous effect on the Alaska state budget. Despite some partisan rhetoric, the facts clearly show that our budget is nearly on par with the state budget of the mid-80s. Alaska’s budget need a firm, managing hand to ensure it remains flat, but it can’t come at the cost of eroding the services that every Alaskan relies on. Finding a balance all are happy with is hard work, but the Alaska House Majority remains committed to it.
The Permanent Fund Dividend has historically not been the large Dividend some of us have seen calculated in the past few years. In fact, the average PFD size over the life of the program has been just over $1,200. We remain committed to working toward resolution of the PFD formula so that our state can return to many of the other important topics that we have been unable to attend to in light of our fiscal situation.


House Bill 313
As Alaska grappled with perhaps the most dangerous economic and public health crises the state has ever seen, the House Majority moved quickly to take the necessary steps to make sure the federal funds could be legally distributed to those in need. Included in HB 313 was:
• $568.6 million for direct municipal relief;
• $290 million in grants for Alaska’s small businesses. The money will be distributed through grants at the direction of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. DCCED estimates this funding will help 10,000 small businesses that were unable to obtain loans through the federal Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program;
• Up to $100 million for Alaska’s fisheries;
• $10 million for AHFC’s Homeless Assistance Program;
• $49 million for Statewide Aviation and Rural Airport System FAA funding;
• $1,350,000 for DOT Measurement Standards and Commercial Vehicle Compliance; and
• $465,000 for Northern Region Highways & Aviation.
House Bill 205
Facing closures statewide, the House Majority worked hand in hand with the Senate to pass an operating budget in a record 68 days. The budget included:
• $88 million for COVID-19 response efforts ($75 million for the Department of Health and Social Services; $5 million for the Disaster Relief Fund; $5 million for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation; and $2.7 million for the public health services provided by the Municipality of Anchorage);
• $151 million for the Alaska State Troopers and $14 million for the Village Public Safety Officer program to help make our state safe;
• $98 million for Pioneer Homes and $21 million for Senior Benefits to make sure the elders who built our state live with dignity;
• $1 billion to inflation proof the Permanent Fund so the fund will not lose value over time, and $675.5 million for a $1,000 Permanent Fund Dividend for eligible Alaskans;
• $120 million in capital project funding that will provide work for Alaska’s construction industry;
• A targeted $30 million investment in K-12 education that will help avoid teacher layoffs and larger classroom sizes; and
• $12.5 million to partially restore the University of Alaska’s budget, a move that helps avoid the closure of programs that prepare our best and brightest to grow our economy.
House Bill 234
The Dunleavy Administration made an enormous cut to the Medicaid program in 2019, promising that the cut would save the state money in the long run. When the cut backfired, the Legislature moved to fix this problem by passing the largest supplemental budget in Alaska history, HB 234, which amended this mistake. In total, the supplemental budget covered:
• $142 million in state funds and $160 million in federal funds for Medicaid services, including $8.3 million to restore the Adult Preventive Dental Program;
• $110.5 million for wildland firefighting costs incurred last summer and fall;
• $8.6 million to restore Adult Public Assistance to ensure payments for low-income Alaskans;
• $7.1 million for the Alaska Marine Highway System to ensure a stable schedule for the spring and summer of this year;
• $6.7 million for the Department of Public Safety to address a shortfall within the Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers due to a lower than expected vacancy rate;
• $6 million to help the Alaska Psychiatric Institute increase its capacity; and
• $3 million to address the severe damage caused in Anchorage, Kenai, and Mat-Su by the December 2018 earthquake.
Additionally, the Legislature added funds with the goal of aiding in the fight against COVID-19 by boosting Community Assistance funding by $10 million, while providing an additional $23.5 million, including:
• $8.5 million in grants to municipalities for COVID-19-related commercial passenger vessel operations;
• $5.5 million for medical and protective equipment, including testing supplies;
• $3.5 million for transportation to housing for medical assistance;
• $2.5 million for housing individuals under quarantine;
• $1.5 million for the state epidemiology lab for IT systems related to testing;
$1.5 million for personnel including lab, support, emergency operations, and 24-hour facility staff; and 10 | P a g e
• $500,000 for public distribution of vital health recommendations and information.
House Bill 241
Showing the strength of Alaskans during a crisis, the Legislature worked together to pass HB 241 in a bipartisan effort to give health officials the resources they needed to combat COVID-19, while giving individuals relief from the economic hardships of the pandemic. The law:
• Extends the governor’s 30-day public health emergency declaration to November 15;
• Grants the Chief Medical Officer the authority to issue standing orders for healthcare providers related to COVID-19;
• Ensures that first responders and healthcare workers receive workers compensation if they contract COVID-19;
• Provides $10 million from the Disaster Relief Fund for response efforts;
• Allows the Department of Community, Commerce and Economic Development to provide financial assistance to small businesses to help alleviate COVID-19 related costs;
• Creates an expedited path to certify out-of-state licensed professionals to help address the public health emergency;
• Halts evictions and foreclosures for Alaskans experiencing a financial hardship because of COVID-19;
• Ensures that government COVID-19 assistance payments, including Permanent Fund dividends, are not counted as income when determining an individual’s eligibility for means-tested programs;
• Protects Alaskans experiencing COVID-19-related financial hardship from defaulting on state loans and having their assets seized;
• Encourages the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development to purchase Alaska seafood for distribution to food banks, soup kitchens and Alaska Native organizations;
• Directs the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to provide financial assistance to address homelessness caused by COVID-19 and provides $5 million for additional grants for that purpose;
• Allows the Lieutenant Governor to direct Alaskans to vote by mail if in-person voting is a danger to public health; and
• Extends the application period for the 2020 dividend to April 30, 2020 and ensures Alaskans who were out-of-state when the disaster was declared will remain eligible for their PFDs if they follow travel recommendations and remain out-of-state.
House Bill 308
It was critical that Alaskans who faced lost wages due to state mandated shutdowns got immediate financial relief. That is why the House Majority worked together to pass HB 308 (sponsored by Rep. Ivy Spohnholz), providing retroactive unemployment insurance for Alaskan workers laid off or losing hours due to COVID-19. The law:
• Allows Alaskans who are unable to work, or have lost hours because of public health measures, to become eligible for unemployment benefits and help prevent the spread of COVID-19;
• Waives the standard 1-week waiting requirement to begin receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits and the able/available to work requirement so they can get relief as soon as possible;
• Increases the weekly per-dependent benefit from $25 to $75, providing help for families who lost childcare and income simultaneously;
• Applies to those who are currently staying home to take care of children and therefore unable to work and who pay into the unemployment insurance fund;
• Provides emergency relief for up to one year;
• Retroactively went into effect to cover those who had already applied before the outbreak.
House Bill 2001
The House Majority was instrumental in organizing a special session that saw the passage of HB 2001, and put pressure on the Governor to restore funding to several of his vetoes, including:
• $77 million for Medicaid, including Adult Dental
• $110 million of the $130 million vetoed from the University of Alaska.
• $20.7 million for Senior Benefits
• $8.8 million for Early Learning Programs
House Bill 49
Following a rise in crime in the state, the House Majority worked to give our public safety officers the tools they need to keep Alaskans safe. HB 49 did several things, including:
• Increased sentencing ranges
• Created stronger penalties for drug dealers and distributors
• Created additional tools for our judicial system to prosecute theft crimes,
• Removed limits on theft sentence
• Closed sex offender and sex offender registration “loopholes”
• Eliminate the marriage defense for sexual assault
• Improved our reporting system for sex offenses
House Bill 14
The Justin Schneider case in 2018 forced Alaskans to reconsider how we sentence perpetrators of sexual assault. HB14 (sponsored by Rep. John Lincoln) addressed these loopholes in state law, while requiring victims of all sex crimes be notified when a perpetrator is being released and allows a victim or their guardian to enter an opinion of a plea deal on the record.
Senate Bill 10
According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the suicide rate in Alaska is the leading cause of death for Alaskans between the ages of 10 and 64. The state has a responsibility to address this public health crisis and extending the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council for 8 years was essential. That is why the House Majority moved to pass SB 10 (cross-sponsored by Rep. Geran Tarr and Rep. Chris Tuck), which extended the council until 2027. The Council does good work helping people and coordinating efforts across the state to build up protective factors and reduce risk factors that contribute to suicide.
Senate Bill 37
Passed SB 37, extends statewide immunization program in the Department of Health and Social Services. Created in 2014, the program distributes all childhood vaccines and select adult vaccines to healthcare providers. The law extends the vaccine assessment fund, which is especially important in the eventual rollout of a vaccine for COVID-19.
House Bill 96
The House Majority was committed to passing HB 96 (sponsored by Rep. Zack Fields), which protects Alaska’s seniors from facing undue rate increases in Pioneer Homes. This law makes it so yearly Pioneer Home rate increases cannot exceed the Social Security cost of living adjustment. The law also raises the amount of income which residents may keep for incidental and personal expenses. Our seniors have spent their lives building Alaska, and we owe it to them to ensure a high quality of life as they age.
House Bill 71
Passed HB 71 (sponsored by Rep. Andi Story), allowing veterans, former prisoners of war, and members of the National Guard to use relevant military experience to meet the basic requirements for State of Alaska positions. This commonsense fix will help Alaska’s military population transition into civilian life by presenting more job opportunities and give the state more qualified employees.
House Bill 232
In areas like Fairbanks where there are targets to improve the air quality, passing HB 232 (sponsored by Rep. Grier Hopkins), which allows cities and boroughs to incentivize energy-efficient construction or remodeling through property tax credits, became a priority. This law will allow for an innovative way to decrease air pollution while incentivizing local construction projects.
House Bill 235
The Technical Vocational Education Program (TVEP) provides grants to career and technical education across the state, impacting thousands of students by offering industry-specific opportunities that put Alaskans to work. These programs train Alaskans for industry-specific jobs in sectors such as fishing, transportation, health, mining, and construction. HB 235 (sponsored by Rep. Adam Wool) extends the TVEP program for an additional three years.
House Bill 301
Passed HB 301, which requires completion of Registered Apprenticeship to receive a journeywork’s certificate of fitness for pipe-fitters, plumbers, and electrical workers, while also requiring participation in Registered Apprenticeship to work under a trainee’s certificate of fitness. This law will make sure apprenticeship standards will continue to be a mandatory priority, ensuring the safety of workers.
Senate Bill 40
While already nationally Black History Month, the passage of SB 40 permanently established February as Black History Month in Alaska. African-Americans have contributed in immense and numerous ways to the history and foundation of the state and enshrining this month as Black History Month in statute formally recognizes and celebrates these contributions.
Senate Bill 44
In a state as large and sparsely populated as Alaska, it is not always possible for patients to receive in-person healthcare treatment. That is why it is so essential that Alaskans do not face any unnecessary impediments when they are treated electronically. The passage of SB 44 (cross-sponsored by Rep. Geran Tarr and Rep. Ivy Spohnholz) will allow physician assistants to provide telemedicine in the same manner as physicians, increasing Alaskans access to care, especially in rural areas of the state.
Senate Bill 74
As we have seen through the COVID-19 pandemic, internet connectivity and reliability are essential in today’s modern world for equal education opportunities for children. Passing SB 74 helped address that by increasing the minimum broadband requirement for schools from 10 megabits per second (Mbps) to a minimum of 25 Mbps while providing funding to help schools reach the 25 Mbps threshold by leveraging federal grants.
Senate Bill 83
When working with Alaska’s telecommunication providers, there were several statutes that needed updating to encourage investment and innovation while increasing consumer protections. In addition to updating regulations for the telecommunication industry, SB 83 (cross-sponsored by Rep. Chuck Kopp and Rep. Chris Tuck) creates new protections for rural Alaskans by requiring landline and long-distance rates, terms and conditions be the same as in urban areas.
Senate Bill 93
One of the most pressing problems facing our entire state is access to healthcare and provider shortages. Passing SB 93 helps address this problem by allowing private sponsorship of professionals seeking to further their healthcare education by funneling money through the Alaska Health Care Professions Loan Repayment and Incentive Program (SHARP). This program comes at no cost to the state and is focused on improving access and healthcare outcomes for all Alaskans.
Senate Bill 106
Homeowners and renters rely on insurance companies to protect their homes and belongings. Before this law went into place, insurance providers could fail to renew homeowner or renter policies on the anniversary without notification prior to the cancelation, or fail to renew a policy within the first year of coverage for any reason, even after a claim was filed. SB 106 ensured that insurance companies cannot cancel a policy based on the first claim filed within 3 years of the policy being initiated.
House Bill 29
Alaskans need greater access to healthcare, which has never been truer than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Passing HB 29 (sponsored by Rep. Ivy Spohnholz), brought the benefits of telehealth to people covered by private plans and increased Alaskans’ access to better, faster healthcare.
House Bill 44
With Alaska increasingly becoming a tourist destination, it is essential that small businesses be able to capture revenue from travelers. HB 44 (sponsored by Rep. Dan Ortiz) closed a loophole that prevented small businesses from collecting ATM fees from international credit and debit cards.
House Bill 126
Passed HB 126 (Sponsored by Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky), which permanently establishes November as Alaska Native Heritage Month. Alaska is home to roughly half of our nation’s federally recognized tribes, and this law will help celebrate Alaska Natives’ significant contribution to the state’s unique heritage, history, and economy.
House Bill 12
The House Majority has made protecting Alaskans from domestic violence and sexual assaults one of its most pressing priorities. Passing HB 12 (sponsored by Rep. Chuck Kopp) allowed victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to obtain a protective order more than once per incident if they are still in danger. This fix provided additional discretion to judges, another tool for victims and victim advocates, and created an extra layer of protection for some of the most vulnerable Alaskans.
House Bill 56
After the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, Hmong people became targets because of their involvement with the U.S., and many were displaced from their home countries. There are an estimated 260,000 Hmong-Americans today, including approximately 3,500 in Alaska. The U.S. government promised Hmong veterans citizenship and veteran status after the war, but it has taken more than 50 years to receive what they were promised. Their important contributions have often been overlooked. Passing HB 56 (sponsored by Rep. Geran Tarr), establishing May 15 as Hmong-American Veterans Day, was an important step in recognizing the Hmong people who fought alongside the United States during the Vietnam War.
“On behalf of Hmong veterans in Alaska and their families, thank you to the House for their support of H.B. 56. I am proud, as are other Hmong veterans, of our service alongside American soldiers,” said Pasert Lee of Mountain View, who is a Hmong veteran. “This annual recognition will allow us an official acknowledgment of service.”
Senate Bill 55
A long delay before criminal appeals are decided is not acceptable for crime victims, the general public, attorneys, or defendants. Before the passage of SB 55 (cross-sponsored by Rep. Chuck Kopp and Rep. Andy Josephson), the three judges on the court of appeals worked hard through a heavy workload, but unheard cases just keep accumulating. SB 55 added a permanent fourth judge to the court of appeals to work on the backlog of cases and keep up with new ones. Public safety does not just mean more police officers, it means every facet of the state’s system must have the tools to keep Alaskans safe.
Senate Bill 61
It is important to foster the next generation of Alaskan entrepreneurs, especially those in the commercial fishing industry. SB 61 (cross-sponsored by Rep. Dan Ortiz), allows the Commercial Fisherman’s Fund to pay the full deductible, up to $5,000, for the holder of Protection and Indemnity Insurance. This law especially helped the next generation of Alaska’s fishermen by increasing access to health insurance and healthcare.
House Bill 197
The Seismic Hazards Safety Commission plays a vital role to both Alaska’s public and private sectors by establishing goals and priorities to mitigate the risk of damage from earthquakes, and recommends policies to the governor and legislature, including research, mapping, and monitoring programs. Passing HB 197 (sponsored by Rep. Chris Tuck) extended the commission to 2028.
House Bill 203
Previously, fishermen were not able to transport red king crab, Tanner crab and Dungeness live via ground. Passing HB 203 (sponsored by Rep. Gary Knopp) allowed Alaskans to transport live crab for commercial purposes. This new law will open new commercial avenues for Alaska’s fishermen.
House Bill 142
Passed HB 142 (sponsored by Rep. Jonathon Kreiss-Tomkins), which addressed an ambiguity in the previous reading of the law by clarifying which Alaska Native organizations are eligible to administer Alaska Native family assistance programs.
House Bill 124
HB 124 (sponsored by Rep. Matt Claman) was important in establishing a secure process for online notarization to make commercial transactions more accessible in Alaska. Alaskans across the state will now be able to more easily and swiftly conduct notarizations instead of shipping documents back and forth.


Forced Dunleavy Administration to backtrack on sending prisoners Outside
Following Representative Zack Field’s introduction of HB 187 and multiple hearings in House State Affairs, the Administration reversed its plans to ship Alaskan prisoners Outside. Due to the vigilance and preservation of the House Majority, Alaska avoided needless overspending on a program that has adverse effects for people reentering society from prison.
Additionally, due to House Majority members’ work with the Administration, the DOC reversed its plans and decided to reopen the Palmer Correctional Center. In 2019, DOC said it was not a viable option, despite the legislature appropriating more that $16 million to do just that. This will be a cheaper option for Alaska to house prisoners and provide more jobs in state than shipping prisoners Outside.
Protected API from dangerous sweetheart deal
By putting pressure on the Dunleavy Administration through committee hearings, the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) canceled the no-bid, sole-source contract to Outside company Wellpath to manage the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. The contract would of cost Alaska $220 million over five years. The contract is now open for open bids which will ensure transparency, lower costs, and greater health and safety outcomes.

Illustrated a way forward for rural public safety
One of the greatest threats to public safety in Alaska is the disparity of justice between rural and urban areas. The Village Public Safety Officer program shows local governments looking for local solutions to this problem. The Division of Public Safety Finance Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Chuck Kopp, published recommendations and findings of the bipartisan Village Public Safety Officer Legislator Working. Collaborating with tribal organizations across Alaska, the group made nine recommendations:
• Provide a public safety mission and vision for program and clarify VPSO law enforcement duties and powers
• Create more financial flexibility for the VPSO grantee organizations
• Restore VPSO funding to the FY 18 level (approximately $13 million)
• Fund unfunded mandates, including labor, training, and transportation
• Require that grant awards pay full indirect costs to grantee organizations
• Move financial grant management from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
• Maintain operational oversight by the Department of Public Safety
• Establish a consultation process between tribal/grantee organizations and the Department of Public Safety before changing training and experience requirements
• Make the statutory and regulatory changes needed to implement the recommendations
Made history by creating a Tribal Affairs Committee

For the first time ever, the Alaska Legislature formed a House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs, a committee focused on tribal issues. The opportunities for leveraging tribes’ unique government to government relationship with the US Federal Government offer exciting and potentially crucial means of meeting the health, safety, and education needs of rural Alaska communities
Stood up for K-12 school funding
The Alaska State Legislature won a lawsuit against the Executive Branch, forcing an about-face from the Dunleavy Administration to release $30 million in grant funding for K-12 schools that the governor had previously refused to distribute. Withholding the funds would have resulted in devastating cuts and the loss of hundreds of educators from our school system.
Additionally, because recent budgets have tended to pass in late spring, schools boards have been in the tough position of laying off teachers unexpectedly, or suddenly changing their plans for the coming year when running up against their budget deadlines. The legislature successfully forward funded education in FY20 and defended the decision in court against a challenge from the governor who asserted it was unconstitutional. This decision will give parents and teachers across the state certainty of their own budgets and ensures they are protected from the yearly political budget debates.
Defended work safety standards
Following an informational hearing held by House Labor and Commerce Committee, the Department of Labor suspended their decision to create a work around to apprenticeship requirements for people training to become electricians and plumbers. By giving labor leaders a platform to speak out, the House Majority stood up to protect workplace safety standards.