March 3, 2023
Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Fellow Fairbanksans,
Welcome to the seventh edition of the Carrick Capitol Connection! The halls of the Capitol are buzzing with activity as the Legislature works to hold committee meetings, go through our budget process, and navigate an increase in COVID cases that have arisen in our crowded working environment. As of yesterday, we are officially beyond the halfway mark for the 90-day legislative session, though we still have a long way to go until our work is done. Continue reading for information about what’s been happening on the Hill and ways you can make your voice heard.
EPA Hosting a Listening Session
In recent Carrick Capitol Connections, I have spoken a lot about new EPA air quality regulations for PM2.5, which if enacted would have drastic negative impacts on Interior families and businesses. Due to the importance of this issue, the Interior Delegation sent a letter opposing these new regulations and I am working on my own letter to add to the pile as well. This week, the Borough Assembly passed their own resolution opposing these regulations as well. I highly encourage you all to submit written comment. Anyone can submit public comment online.
There will also be an opportunity for public input at an EPA listening session on Tuesday March 7th from 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. at the UAF Wood Center. I strongly urge anyone who is available to go to this listening session and make your voice be heard. We cannot let the EPA cripple the Interior with these harsh regulations. Due to timing conflicts with the budget process in the House, I will not be able to fly home then, but Senator Click Bishop, who is our Senator for House District 35, will be there and he hopes to see a strong, Fairbanks turnout. Also don’t forget to submit public comment by March 22nd.
Mahn Choh Trucking Plan Public Comment Open
I have heard a lot about the Mahn Choh Ore Hauling plan from constituents and fellow Fairbanksans- many of whom oppose the project due to public transportation, public safety, environmental, and other concerns. I want to thank the individuals that have reached out and encourage you to continue to let me know your thoughts. I also want to make folks aware that you can submit public comment on this issue until MARCH 13th at 5:00 p.m. You can submit public comment online. For more information, check out Dermot Cole's recent article discussing the public comment period. When he published the article, there were only three comments provided, and WE NEED MORE COMMENTS. Please submit your comments ASAP and make your voice heard on this important issue impacting our community.
Representative Carrick participating in a panel for the Alaska Council of School Administrators fly-in.
The Budget Process Continues
After a week off due to a COVID outbreak in the Capitol which resulted in many legislator absences, the budget subcommittees are finally nearing the end of their work. After subcommittees close-out, the budget goes to the full finance committee for consideration, where there will be opportunity for public testimony on issues such as education funding, the University budget, and other operating budget items. After that, the budget heads to the House Floor before going to the Senate, where the whole process repeats itself. Before subcommittees close out, I am working with my colleagues to make important changes to the budget, including advocating for funding for civics education and for funding the University of Alaska at the Board of Regents original request. Here is a breakdown of these two priorities:
Fighting for the University
Although I do not sit on the University of Alaska Budget Subcommittee, that does not mean I am not fighting tooth and nail for our world-class university system. I am working with the members of the University Subcommittee to secure additional funding and reverse the cuts that Governor Dunleavy has called for in this year’s budget compared to the Board of Regents request. I will keep you posted as this process progresses.
Making the Case for Civics Education
West Valley High School Civics Education Teacher Amy Galloway reached out to our office back in January to let us know that funding for the We the People Civics Education Program is set to dry up this year after years of limited state support for the program. This is a great program that teaches students about their government. As the Department of Education and Early Development Budget Subcommittee nears the end of its work, I am working with the members of that subcommittee to secure funding for this program, as well as other evidence-based programs including Alaska History Day and Kids Voting to make them more sustainable and to try to further develop these programs throughout the state.
Representative Carrick (left) speaking at a press conference and House Minority Leader, Rep. Schrage (right)
What’s the Rush?
Earlier this week I participated in my first press conference as a legislator with some of my colleagues in the House Minority Coalition. You can watch my opening remarks on my YouTube page and you can watch the whole press conference online. We are now more than half the way through the 90-day legislative session and the House Majority still has not introduced legislation to address pressing issues our state is facing, especially increasing the Base Student Allocation so our teachers have the resources to teach our students and so that we can fulfill our constitutional obligation to maintain a public education system available to all students in Alaska.
In addition to the press conference, I also participated in a panel this week which was part of the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) fly-in. Panelists discussed the importance of education and workforce development. During the ACSA fly-in and during other fly-ins to Juneau this year, we have heard one thing from the education community: we need to increase the Base Student Allocation and help to restore confidence in our education system. I hope the House Majority gets its priorities in order and increases the BSA for our teachers and students.
Interior Alaska Transportation Plan Working Group
Each region of the state has a transportation plan that takes inventory of current transportation infrastructure as well as looking to the future of what needs to prioritized for improvement, repair, or replacement. The plan for the Interior is called the Interior Alaska Transportation Plan (IATP) and it has not been updated since 2010. I am excited that I was invited to be part of this group and my staff and I look forward to working with the other members to update our current transportation plan. Tuesday, February 28 was the inaugural meeting of the working group and we have many more meetings ahead of us to hammer out the best transportation plan for the Interior. Please reach out to me with any thoughts or ideas you might have for the future of transportation in the Interior. You can learn more about the IATP working group, or submit your ideas to the website.
Representative Carrick meeting with principals in Juneau for the Alaska Council of School Administrators fly-in. From left to right, Lathrop High School Principal Carly Sween, Rep Carrick, Hutchison High School Principal Robyn Taylor, and North Pole Elementary School Principal Mark Winford.
Noel Wien Library Closing for Renovation
Beginning May 1, the Noel Wien Library will be closed for renovations to its building on Cowles Street. This project will expand the current children’s Berry Room while adding a teen center, business center, café, learning lab, used bookstore, and extra meeting spaces. Additional upgrades to the building include routine maintenance, lighting, and furniture. In the interim, books will be housed at the former Joy Elementary School building at 24 Margaret Avenue and will be limited to 5 items per person. Internet and computer services will only be available at the North Pole public library. For more information on the renovations, please visit the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s library page.
Representative David Eastman has a long history of galling remarks, as many people throughout the State of Alaska are aware. In a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing, he suggested that killing abused children would save the state money. This resulted in the Censure of Rep. Eastman. Along with my colleagues in the House, I voted for his censure. This type of hateful rhetoric should not be tolerated by those of us who are pro-children and pro-families.
With workforce development issues a real concern for our state, it is important to keep up enrollment numbers in the University of Alaska system. One obstacle for potential students is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA. The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education, through the Alaska FAFSA Completion Initiative, is offering tools and resources for completing the application. For more information, visit their website. The deadline to apply for FAFSA is June 30.
My Staff and I Are Here for You!
Please feel free to reach out to me and my office regarding any topics of interest or concern. We are always happy to help, and we are here for you!
Representative Ashley Carrick
House District 35 -- West Fairbanks
Contact your Congressional Delegation
Congresswoman Mary Peltola
153 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5765
Senator Lisa Murkowski
250 Cushman Ave, Suite 2D
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Phone: (907) 456-0233
Fax: (877) 857-0322
Senator Dan Sullivan
101 12th Ave., Ste. 328
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Phone: (907) 456-0261
Fax: (907) 451-7290
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Rep. Ashley Carrick
Alaska State Capitol
Juneau, AK 99801
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