Session is in Full Swing!

Welcome to the first Maxine's Message of the session. It has been non-stop action since the day we gaveled in and there doesn't appear to be much of a lull in sight! Here’s to hoping everyone has been able to stay warm in our recent Fairbanks cold spell!

Session Kicks off with a Bang!

It is excellent to be back in the swing of things, with floor sessions, committee meetings, bill hearings, and more. After being pummeled by over 60 inches of snow in Juneau, the legislature convened and began our work. As this is being sent, the State of the State address to the Joint Session by Governor Dunleavy was postponed due to very inclement weather to tonight January 30th. I will therefore give an update on the address in my next Maxine's Message.

The fast pace and high energy of the session's first two weeks have been amazing. The Alaska House has already taken several actions including calling for a joint session and attempting a veto override. The override motion failed to achieve the 45 votes needed, falling 33 in support and 26 opposed, and has taken up SB 140 in the House Rules Committee, where a package of education-related pieces of legislation were bundled into an omnibus bill, this reconfigures the original Broadband Internet support and the $680 BSA increase that came out of the Senate last spring. The specifics of the legislation that was bundled into SB 140 are reviewed later in this E-news.

Rep. Dibert shown speaking to the press during a briefing held by the Alaska House Coalition (above left) and participating in a House Resources Committee meeting during a presentation by DNR (right).

Former Rep. Mike Davis Brings Bristol Bay Campus Class to Juneau

A little over a week ago I joined several other legislators in speaking to a class from UAF Bristol Bay Campus. The class was part of a legislative fly-in hosted by the lead instructor for the class, former Fairbanks Representative Mike Davis. Students learned about the legislative process through listening, observing, asking questions, and participating in mock hearings and committee meetings. I enjoyed speaking and visiting with these students. I was impressed by their knowledge and their enthusiasm to learn more about the legislative process. Thank you Representative Davis for keeping Alaskan students engaged and for presenting them with this great learning opportunity at the State capital.

Rep. Dibert shown here with former Rep. Mike Davis (above left), addressing the assembled students (above right) and, joined by Rep. Carrick (below right) posed with the the entire class.

Importance of Funding Our Schools

On one of the first days of session, I rose on the floor to support a consideration of overriding last summer's education vetoes and to emphasize the incredible importance of raising our state allocation to the public school system. Decades of flat funding are finally catching up to schools and they are approaching a breaking point. Without substantial permanent increases in school funding, families are faced with the disheartening reality of losing their best teachers, larger and larger class sizes, less and less elective and extracurricular choices, and buildings without specialists, counselors, and nurses. Because of the stress on schools and families, I continue to make increasing the BSA (Base Student Allocation) my number one legislative priority. I will work with the Governor and this Legislature to figure out a way to make this a reality.

View a video of Rep. Dibert's Floor Speech on Education Funding

Rally for Our Students, Families, Educators and Schools

On Saturday, January 13th I joined over 500 parents, students, and educators at a huge rally in downtown Anchorage. I gathered with many of my colleagues in the Alaska State Legislature as well as leaders from municipalities, school boards, and other non-profit organizations from across Alaska. Together we called for the Legislature and the Governor to take decisive action to support our youth and to update and substantially increase the Base Student Allocation (BSA).

As I addressed the crowd, I conveyed a message of hope, letting them know that a majority of legislators are committed to the future of our state and to the youth who are educated here. I ensured the assembled group that we will not stop advocating for our public schools! We will not rest and we will not give up until our schools, our families, and our educators are supported with the resources they deserve. I am optimistic that coalitions of legislators will work together and make a significant BSA increase a reality this session.

Representative Dibert at the podium along with Rep. Himschoot addressing the rally (top right). Senators Kawasaki and Tobin, Representatives Himschoot, Dibert, and Galvin all sporting Raise the BSA signs (middle right) and Rep. Dibert looking out over the crowd assembled for the Education Rally (bottom right).

Representatives Dibert and Himschoot along with Senator Stevens pictured here with Alaska Teacher of the Year, Catherine Walker, and NEA-Alaska Exemplary Student of the Year, Sitka Student and State Board of Education Student Advisor Felix Myers.

Representative Dibert with Teacher of the Year, Catherine Walker (left) and NEA-Alaska Exemplary Student of the Year, Sitka Student and State Board of Education Student Advisor Felix Myers (right).

State Teacher of the Year & an Outstanding Student

I joined several of my colleagues in having the honor of meeting the Alaska Teacher of the Year, Catherine Walker, and the NEA-Alaska Exemplary Student of the Year, Felix Myers. I was honored and humbled to meet an amazing educator, Catherine Walker, 2024 Alaska Teacher of the Year. Catherine Walker currently teaches at Dimond High in Anchorage. I encourage everyone to learn about her inspirational story and her innovative prowess in the classroom. Her unbridled passion for her students and their families shows through in everything she does. Additionally, I want to congratulate Catherine for being named a finalist for the 2024 National Teacher of the Year award. That's a big deal and she is amazing. Felix, the Exemplary Student of the Year is a Sitka resident who serves as the student advisor on the State Board of Education. He has done incredible advocacy work for all students in Alaska. I am pretty sure this isn't the last time we'll be reading accolades about these two incredible people. Congratulations to Felix and Catherine on your amazing accomplishments. I wish you both the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Senator Kawasaki Town Hall drop-in

On Saturday, Jan 20 I was able to drop in virtually to a town hall being held by Senator Kawasaki in Fairbanks. I addressed the assembled constituents and filled them in on my on-going legislative work and priorities. I was unable to stay online for the entire town hall as I was needed in a committee meeting, but Senator Kawasaki did fill me in on many of your questions and concerns. Please feel free to reach out to my office whenever you have a question or concern. My staff and I are here to serve the people of Fairbanks.

Save the Date:

In-Person Town Hall coming soon on FEB 10. Details are to be announced soon.

Representative Dibert participating virtually from Juneau in the town hall being held in Fairbanks at the Legislative Information Office.

Companion Bills

Last week I dropped a new piece of legislation HB 283, "An Act extending the termination date of the Alaska Commission on Aging." This bill extends the sunset date of the Commission on Aging to June 30, 2032. Senator Kawasaki is sponsoring the Companion Bill in the Senate, SB 189.

That Time of Year! - Lots of Meetings with Different Individuals and Organizations

Much of a legislator's job this time of year is about listening to individuals and organizations. Over the last few weeks, my office has met with everyone from constituents or Fairbanks residents, to representatives from non-profit organizations, businesses large and small, advocacy groups, and various entities who ask for a minute of my time. I, of course, prioritize meetings with constituents, so please come visit with me if you are in Juneau. I try to accommodate all individuals and organizations seeking meetings whenever possible. My goal is to listen to people and to use their input to guide and inform my work. In the short, but busy time we have been here this session, I have already met in person with several constituents as well as representatives from school boards, business owners, utilities, native corporations, non-profits, advocacy groups, labor organizations, and more. I look forward to my hometown visits.

Representative Dibert meeting with Rachel and Kara from the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living (left) and with Doyon Senior Vice President for External Affairs, Sarah Obed (right).

Representative Dibert meeting with Jacob Howdeshell from Local 942 and Trenton English (left) and with Dr. Mike Walsh and Dr. Pearl Kiywan Brower of the Foraker Group (right).

Representative Dibert meeting with representatives of the Alaska State Chamber (left) and Stephanie Ilichmann Pearson and Rita Heselton from Alaska Public Employees Association (right).

Representative Dibert meeting with Nicholas Mailloux, Tim Brannon, and Naomi Hewitt of IBEW ( left) and with representatives of Alaska Graduates Association, a newly formed Alaska Union (right).

Representative Dibert meeting with Derek Musto, Antwon Dungey, and Patrick FitzGerald from Alaska Teamsters (left) and with Fairbanks education advocates Fanta Sankoh and Hannah Hodges (right).

Representative Dibert visiting with Alaska Excel representatives Jaime Klaes, Christa Wilson, and Carol Wilson.

Thank You for Testifying on SB140 Education Funding

Thank you to the many Fairbanks residents who responded to the call to action, and the hundreds of Alaskans across the state who took the time to testify by showing up at a Legislative Information Office, calling into the committee hearing, or by emailing the Rules Committee with your testimony on SB 140. Your voices were heard loud and clear. For over six hours, regular citizens spoke up and mostly urged legislators to implement substantial increases in funding for our statewide schools. Citizens also commented on initiatives that were being added to the bill including changing the way charter schools are approved and regulated (taking power away from local elected school boards and giving it to the appointed State Board of Education), adding money to correspondence programs, and providing lump sum incentive payments to teachers. After much political posturing, the House Majority-controlled Rules Committee moved the bill out of committee with additions including an inadequate (in my view) $300 increase to the BSA, creation of State Board created charter schools, and other add-ons described above. Even though the vast majority who testified explained how they believe these changes to SB 140 will be harmful to their communities, their children, and to the state.

We are told this bill will be on the floor soon but we have yet to see it appear. When it reaches the floor, I am hoping that sensible improvements can be added as amendments--improvements that will benefit, rather than harm our neighborhood schools. While it is easy to be disheartened by the lack of progress, I choose to take an optimistic approach and go forward with a message of hope. I truly appreciate that hundreds of Alaskans are speaking up for student learning. Thank you for your amazing stories and testimony. When I listen to parents, educators, administrators, and students speak loudly for what they believe in, it provides me with the energy I need to continue advocating for Alaska public schools and all Alaskan students. We all know that the future hangs on the support we provide for our youth. We hear you. Keep fighting for what is right and thank you for staying engaged and advocating for our youth.

Legislative Priorities Unchanged

My priorities are unchanged as the session continues. I am hopeful that the the 33rd Legislature will make solid progress towards achieving these priorities. They are:

• Work hard to reduce energy costs for our community.

• Substantially increase the BSA so that we can have thriving vibrant neighborhood schools that attract working families and that develop our workforce with students who have the requisite skills to get high paying jobs with great benefits.

• Address the childcare crisis so that we can get our working moms and dads back to work.

• Work to attract and retain essential public employees (such as public safety, road maintenance, and educators) so that Alaskans are provided with efficient and effective services.

Sometimes it’s frustrating when things don’t go our way, but in the end, I am optimistic and hopeful. Despite occasional setbacks I am never giving up, I am not done advocating, and in fact, I am just getting started. Please contact me anytime you need assistance, or just if you just need someone in your corner I will be there.

Rep. Dibert, Tammy Smith, and Sarah Evans on the first day of session.

Team Maxine in Action

Team Maxine is charging ahead with the busy and productive session. We are currently preparing for a bill hearing on my legislation, HB 147 that encourages retired teachers to help out by substituting in our public schools. Stay tuned for opportunities to testify on this or any other legislation over the next few days.

If you are interested in watching, all the action in Juneau is available live or on an archived basis:

If you need something specific and you can not locate it, let my office know and we would be glad to assist.

Thank you. We hope to see you at the Feb 10 Town Hall in Fairbanks!

Have you applied for the PFD Yet?

The 2024 PFD filing season has begun. The application period is open until 11:59 PM Sunday, March 31, 2024. You can get more information and apply on line HERE.

Select Job Opportunities

List of current positions for:

-Fairbanks Pioneer Home

-State of Alaska positions in Fairbanks

-Fairbanks School District - Job Openings

-UAF Job Openings

Alaska’s Job Centers

* Job seekers:

* Employers:

Thanks for staying engaged!

Please feel welcome to visit my office in person or to give us a call anytime. We are here to help.

In humble service to the People of Fairbanks,

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Stay in Touch and Stay Informed

Contact Our Office

• Representative Dibert:

• Chief of Staff:

• Legislative Aide:

 Office Phone: 907-465-2138


Alaska State Capitol

Room 424

Juneau, AK 99801

Alaska Legislature Web Page

(contact info for every legislator)

Governor Dunleavy

(907) 465-3500

Senator Scott Kawasaki

(907) 907-465-3466

Senator Dan Sullivan

(202) 224-3004

Senator Lisa Murkowski

(202) 224-6665

Representative Mary Peltola

(202) 225-5765

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