April 26, 2024


Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Fellow Fairbanksans,

 

Welcome to the 64th edition of the Carrick Capitol Connection! As we head into the last 30 days of session, the Capitol is experiencing a flurry of activity. The House Finance Committee has begun tackling the capital budget, firefighters had a rally on the Capitol steps in support of the pensions bill (SB88), and committees are frantically considering legislation. In this week’s edition of the Carrick Capitol Connection, I will discuss a series of Interior Delegation Meetings focused on energy in the Interior, the progress of my bill to ensure access to prescription contraceptives, new statistics related to the Child Access to Firearms Prevention Act, and events going on in our community. Continue reading for more information.

 

First, I am excited to report that my House Bill 17 has moved out of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee. As a reminder, this is my contraceptive coverage bill that passed the House back in March on a strong bipartisan vote of 29 in favor. It is now scheduled in its final committee of referral, the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee, where it will be heard on Monday and hopefully will progress from that committee in a short timeframe so it can be considered on the Senate Floor and pass the legislature before the end of session. Stay tuned for more updates! 

Thank you to all the folks, especially the public safety personnel, who came to Juneau to rally in support of SB 88, the bill to establish a defined benefit retirement system for all public employees


Interior Delegation Energy Roundtable

Over the past year and a half, I have had the pleasure of chairing the Interior Delegation. As chair, my highest priority has been finding areas of common ground on issues and challenges impacting our region. While we are a politically and ideologically diverse group, one area of broad consensus is affordable and reliable energy. With this focus on energy, over the past three weeks, the Interior Delegation has hosted a roundtable series of three meetings with Interior energy producers and utilities to discuss their current projects and legislative priorities.

 

Guests at the roundtable discussions have included Golden Valley Electric Association’s President and CEO John Burns and COO Travis Million, Interior Gas Utility’s General Manager Elena Sudduth, Alaska Renewables’ Co-Founder and Vice President Andrew McDonell, UAF College of Engineering and Mines Petroleum Development Laboratory’s Acting Director Brent Sheets (working with the Institute of Northern Engineering), Usibelli Coal Mine’s Vice President of External Affairs Lorali Simon, and Delta Wind Farm’s President and CEO Mike Craft. Thank you again to all of our esteemed presenters!

 

Much of the discussion at these meetings centered on necessary upgrades to the Railbelt transmission lines and the need for battery storage to help lower Interior energy rates. During this session, there has been a lot of discussion about how to provide necessary matching funds for the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) grant. This is a $206.5 million grant from the Department of Energy to upgrade the Railbelt. To leverage this grant, the State needs to provide a one-to-one match over the next few years. The Capital Budget that passed the Senate included a partial match of $32.7 million for the upcoming year. There will still be several more installments of match payments required. However, ensuring we get every dollar of GRIP that we can is one of my highest priorities and is a high priority for many members of the Interior Delegation. Support for GRIP was the main focus of GVEA’s discussion and its importance was also stressed by Usibelli.

 

IGU is focusing on expanding their natural gas network in Fairbanks. This has been another major topic throughout the session, with a lot of attention given to the Cook Inlet natural gas shortage. Fortunately, IGU is largely immune from these shortages since they have shifted their focus to trucking gas from the North Slope. As the Capital Budget continues through the House, I hope the Interior Delegation can come together and provide funding for IGU to expand its natural gas network, and provide parity on this issue with our colleagues in Southcentral.

 

It seems that there is a growing consensus on expanding our energy capacity and diversity of energy resources in the Interior Delegation. However, there is a lack of board support for renewable energy sources to help provide part of that increased capacity. Personally, I am inclined to support renewable energy projects as they not only provide increased power capacity in addition to our base power, but they are also much cleaner than many of our other power sources. In the Interior there are two active wind farm projects being developed or expanded: Shovel Creek on Murphy Dome, and Delta Wind in Delta. Shovel Creek is still a few years out and is scheduled to begin operation in 2027. They are in the leasing stage with the Department of Natural Resources and are hoping to wrap that up this summer. On a side note, I wrote a letter of support to encourage DNR to lease the necessary land to Shovel Creek back in January. Delta Wind on the other hand has been in operation for 14 years and is a fully permitted project that has the capability to expand. They did not have to enter into a lease agreement with the state, since the farm is located on private land. Their strength is producing power during the coldest, darkest months, with the turbines operating as cold as -50 degrees F and gaining capacity in the winter months. They are working on securing an agreement with GVEA to get the remaining capital funding needed to expand.

 

Overall, this meeting series was productive and gave members of the Interior Delegation ample information to make informed energy policy decisions involving the Interior. As the session heads into its last 20 days, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Interior Delegation to help elevate the extreme costs and constraints faced to our energy grid in Fairbanks. 

Rep Carrick signing bill reports for bills that have been moved out of Labor and Commerce


Alarming New Statistics Support Passage of Secure Storage Legislation

Recently released new data supports the need for secure storage of firearms legislation, and I want to highlight a few of the alarming statistics that are now available regarding preventable deaths from gun violence. Some of the conclusions reached from the data tracking these unintentional shootings and suicide deaths of children in the U.S. since 2015 are listed below:

 

  • To date, 2023 was the deadliest year on record for unintentional shooting deaths.
  • Almost once a day in the U.S., a child under the age of 18 gains access to a loaded gun and unintentionally shoots themself or someone else.
  • The two age groups most likely to unintentionally shoot themself or others are high schoolers between the ages of 14 and 17, followed by preschoolers ages five and younger.
  • Of those persons wounded or killed in unintentional shootings, over nine in ten were also under the age of eighteen.
  • When children unintentionally shoot another person, the victim is most often a sibling or a friend and more than seven in ten unintentional shootings occur in or around homes.
  • 2023 saw the highest number of incidents (411), injuries (270), and total victims (427). In comparison, 2021 saw the second-highest number of incidents (396) but the most deaths (167).

 

This issue is close to home for me: I got my master’s degree in public health focusing on mental health and firearm safety. My passion for protecting public health, including mental health and suicide prevention, led me to introduce HB 164. This is the Alaska Child Access Prevention and Secure Storage of Firearms Act. Firearms are the leading method use to commit youth suicide in Alaska, and unsecured firearms make up a majority of those deaths. HB 164 would incentivize secure storage of firearms by creating a violation for the improper storage of firearms so they cannot be accessed by anyone not authorized to use them, including children who can also gain access and cause an unintentional shooting.


While these statistics are extremely troubling, the studies also show that the most effective way to prevent an unintentional shooting is by ensuring that firearms are stored as securely as possible, meaning they should be unloaded and locked when there are minors present who could access them. House Bill 164 would protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of Alaskan children while promoting responsible gun ownership through the secure storage of firearms in Alaska. This bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee and has yet to be heard, despite efforts to encourage the chair. This year, the House Judiciary Committee has focused broadly on the topics of youth mental health and safety, and I sincerely hope they consider this critical youth mental health measure. 

Rep Carrick at the recent Legislative Shoot, hosted by the Alaska Correctional Officers Association. The importance of firearms safety was heavily emphasized at this event


Community Events and Public Comment Opportunities

Manh Choh Public Comment Period

Kinney Engineering, LLC, a consultant team solicited by the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to analyze the impacts of the proposed Manh Choh ore haul project, will hold three public meetings on their Draft Alaska/Richardson/Steese Highways Corridor Action Plan. Listed below are opportunities to submit public comments in person:

 

  • Tuesday, April 30, 2024, at Tok Senior Center, Jon Summar Dr, Tok, AK
  • Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at Carlson Center, 2010 2nd Ave, Fairbanks, AK
  • Thursday, May 2, 2024, at Delta Junction Community Center, 2287 Deborah St, Delta Junction, AK

 

All meetings will be held from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. Most of the public meeting time will be dedicated to public testimony. Public testimony will begin at approximately 5:45pm and will be limited to three (3) minutes for each person. People who want to testify may sign up in person the evening of the meeting. Public testimony will be heard in the order that people signed up. Paper forms will also be available for the public to provide written comments on the Draft Plan or written comments may be submitted to Project Public Involvement Lead Phoebe Bredlie, P.E., Kinney Engineering, LLC, 100 Cushman St, Ste 311, Fairbanks, AK 99701 or via email to comments@akrichsteese.com. Public comments on the plan are welcomed through Friday, May 17, 2024, and will be included in an appendix to the Final Plan. For more information, please visit their website.

 

League of Women Voters of Tanana Valley’s Voting by Mail Presentation

Join the Leage of Women Voters of the Tanana Valley on April 26 from 7pm to 8:30pm at the UAF Murie Auditorium for a discussion titled “Voting by Mail: A Community Conversation.” Speakers from Anchorage will talk about their experience with local elections by mail. Would such a system work here? Would it increase citizen participation in local elections? What would be the budget impact? What are the pros and cons? Join their guests and local elections clerks to explore these questions. For more information, please contact Sue Sherif at lwvtv.info@gmail.com or (907)750-4762.

 

A Raisin in the Sun Theatre Production

The Fairbanks Drama Association and Fairbanks Children’s Theatre present A Raisin in the Sun. This play, written by Lorraine Hansberry, is sponsored by Bert and Becky Bell and is directed by Diane “Bunny” Fleeks. Show dates are April 26, 27, 28 and May 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12. The Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30pm and Sunday matinees are at 2pm. Tickets are available online at aktickets.com or call the box office Monday through Friday from 10:30am to 5pm at (907)456-PLAY.

 

UAF Ceramics Students Spring Sale

Come over to the ceramics studio in the UAF Fine Arts Complex and Regents’ Great Hall on Friday, April 26 from noon to 6pm to view an array of creations made by this semester’s students. Tables full of pottery will be for sale with the proceeds going back to students and to help pay for experiences such as hosting visiting artists. For more information, please visit their Facebook page.

 

My Staff and I Are Here for You!

As always, feel free to reach out to my office any time by calling 907-452-6084, emailing Rep.Ashley.Carrick@akleg.gov, or by following me @RepCarrick on social media. If you know of anyone who would like to sign up for an emailed edition of the Carrick Capitol Connection, please pass along this link to sign up online, or email me to be added to the list. Again, your comments are always appreciated. Please let us know if there are any specific topics in which you may be interested!

Representative Ashley Carrick

Proudly Serving House District 35 -- West Fairbanks


Rep.Ashley.Carrick@akleg.gov

907-452-6084


1292 Sadler Way, Ste 324, Fairbanks, AK 99701

*Global Credit Union building (formerly Alaska USA Credit Union), across from Home Depot, Walmart, and Fred Meyer east.

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Contact my Staff

Stuart Relay

Chief of Staff


stuart.relay@akleg.gov

907-452-6084

Cherie Bowman

Legislative Aide


cherie.bowman@akleg.gov

907-452-6084


Contact the Fairbanks Legislative Information Office


1292 Sadler Way Ste 308

Fairbanks, AK 99701


Office: 907-452-4448

Fax: 907-456-3346


LIO.Fairbanks@akleg.gov


Contact the Governor's Fairbanks Office


675 7th Ave, Ste. H5

Fairbanks, AK 99701-4596


907-451-2920


gov.alaska.gov


Contact your Congressional Delegation

Congresswoman Mary Peltola

Anchorage Office:

121 W Fireweed Ln, Ste. 260

Anchorage, AK 99503


Phone: 907-921-6575


Email


Website:

Peltola.House.Gov

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Fairbanks Office:

250 Cushman Ave, Suite 2D

Fairbanks, AK 99701


Phone: (907) 456-0233

Fax: (877) 857-0322


Email


Website: Murkowski.Senate.Gov

Senator Dan Sullivan

Fairbanks Office:

101 12th Ave., Ste. 328

Fairbanks, AK 99701


Phone: (907) 456-0261

Fax: (907) 451-7290


Email


Website: Sullivan.Senate.Gov