Education Funding

It's been a crazy couple of weeks since I last dropped an E-News. On March 14, the Governor vetoed SB 141, the popular bipartisan education bill that had passed 56-3. On Monday, March 18, at a Joint Session of the Legislature, the House and Senate assembled to consider an override of the veto. Leading up to the vote I heard from over 600 Alaskans. Most shared stories regarding their children, their schools, and their passion for the importance of increased education funding. A huge majority of the messages I received were urging me to vote to override the Governor's veto. Tellingly, less than 1% of these communications supported the Governor's veto. I voted yes on an override of the veto along with many of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle. On a vote of 39-20, the legislature fell one vote short of overriding and the bill was killed. A single vote from any of the representatives shown in red below would have established the bill as law. I supported an override because I supported the original passage of the bill (which passed 56-3). I had hoped that we could send a strong message to our parents, students, and educators who are awaiting decisive action on education funding. In the end, 20 votes ensured that we would not prevail in overriding the Governor's veto.


Going forward there are still opportunities for funding our schools, and I am personally committed to working with the Governor and the Senate in an attempt at finding effective solutions. Resolving the education funding crisis remains my top priority and I will not rest until our families know that schools will be adequately funded. I know firsthand how important it is to get funding passed as early as possible in the session so that districts can avoid teacher layoffs, school closures, class size increases, and canceled academic programs.

Override vote tally board showing how each Representative and Senator voted. Names in green indicate a support for an override of the SB 140 veto. Those in red indicate a sustaining vote and support for the Governor's veto of the education bill.

Fairbanks Listening Sessions

I was in Fairbanks over the weekend of March 8-10 and I had a great visit home where I had many conversations with community members. I had the opportunity to attend several events including a joint town hall at the LIO with Senator Kawasaki and Representative Carrick, a coffee klatch at Alaska Coffee Roasters with Senator Kawasaki, and finally, I attended an excellent Fairbanks Concert Association performance by the band "Damn Tall Buildings." At all these events, and at numerous informal encounters during my visit, I had the privilege of listening to constituents. When community members share their ideas and concerns, it allows me to advocate for Fairbanks more effectively in Juneau. I plan to be in town again the weekend of April 29-31 and I would be glad to visit with anyone who reaches out. Stay tuned for details on any official gatherings I plan to hold or events I plan to attend.

Representative Dibert in North Pole participating in the early Saturday morning call-in show "Over the Cup" with long-time host Dick Olson of KJNP Radio (above left). On the right and below see miscellaneous images from the town hall and coffee klatch attended by Representative Dibert.

Representative Dibert and Senator Kawasaki at the Alaska Coffee Roasters listening to gathered constituents (multiple images above and below).

Above: Representatives Dibert and Carrick with Senator Kawasaki at the Fairbanks LIO listening to constituents.

Representative Dibert at the coffee klatch speaking with a Fairbanks community member.

Representative Dibert attending the Damn Tall Buildings concert, pictured with the band after the show and visiting with audience members.

Legislative Update

While we have been focused heavily on public education, the House has taken action on several other key pieces of legislation. We have been considering several other bills this week on the House floor. During a marathon House session on March 20, we considered HB 193, Internet for Schools, which was part of the package the Governor vetoed in SB 140. We advanced this important broadband bill on a vote of 56-4. It will allow school districts to apply for federal matching funds for broadband internet access grants at schools across Alaska. We needed to take urgent action because the deadline for application is next week. Another bill that passed the House this week is HB 17, Contraceptives Insurance Coverage (I am a proud co-sponsor of this legislation). This bill allows Alaskan women the ability to purchase up to 12 months of birth control pills at a time. Both of these pieces of legislation enjoyed broad bipartisan support, something I am working hard to encourage among my colleagues. Other bills that were considered this week included: HB 97, Self-Storage Unit Liens, HB 146, Regulations of Fireworks, HB 371, Medical Review Organizations, HB 316, Emergency Cell Phone Location Disclosure, HB 158, Military United States Space Force, and HB 238, Criminal Mischief in the 3rd Degree.

Representative Dibert with the other members of the Alaska House Coalition, wearing Red-For-Ed, prior to the joint session and the veto override attempt.

Representative Dibert with Christina Turman who was in Juneau advocating for families and for the education funding included in SB 140.

Executive Orders

The 12 Executive Orders were addressed in a historic joint session held on March 12. Four of the Governor's EO's were left in place and 8 were rejected by the legislature. The process and itemized results of the joint session are described here in this article by James Brooks of the Alaska Beacon.


While I do agree with the idea of streamlining government and focusing on more efficiency, many of these proposed more centralized approaches that would involve less citizen input. Because of this, I voted to reject most of these Executive Orders.

Representative Dibert and staff Tammy Smith presenting at a hearing on HB 147, Retired Teacher Certificates, at the House Education Committee meeting

Primary Sponsored Legislation



I am currently carrying the following bills as a prime sponsor:


HB 147: Lifetime Retired Teacher Certificate-

This bill was heard in the House Education Committee and it was passed out of committee. We are hopeful that, considering the strong bipartisan support for this bill, it will be brought to the House Floor soon for subsequent passage.


HB 188/SB 163: Animal Adoption Records-

Our house version is still waiting for its first hearing in State Affairs and I am optimistic that we will have a hearing soon. Senator Myers' version, SB 163, of this bill, has passed out of Senate Judiciary and it is waiting to be heard on the Senate Floor.


HB 283/SB 189: Extend Alaska Commission on Aging-

This bill will have its first hearing in House Health & Social Services. Representative Prax, the Chair of the committee, has scheduled a hearing in HHSS on Thursday, March 30. Senator Kawasaki had his Senate version of the bill heard and held for Senate Finance. I believe we need to work to keep this valuable commission active and functioning into the next decade and beyond. Our seniors are the lifeblood of our communities.

 

 

HB 366/SB 231: Adolescent Psychiatric Facilities-

This bill was introduced on the last day to file legislation for the 33rd Legislative session. This bill would increase transparency and parental oversight over Alaskan children who the State decides to institutionalize due to behavioral health challenges. House Bill 366 proposes three important reforms that will reduce the risk of abuse, strengthen family connections, and improve the transparency of Alaska’s psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric residential treatment facilities. First, the bill would ensure that children can maintain communication with their parents or legal guardians while institutionalized. Second, the bill would require unannounced and thorough inspections by state public health officials twice annually. Third, the bill would ensure that facilities are transparent about the use of seclusion and restraint. HB 366 has been referred to House Health & Social Services and House Labor & Commerce. Senator Matt Claman has introduced the Senate version, SB 231. A hearing is scheduled in Senate Health & Social Services on Senator Claman's companion bill on March 26. Two articles relating to these issues have been written over the past 10 days, one by the ADN here and one by Mother Jones here.

 

 

HJR 15: Restore Expanded Child Tax Credit-

This resolution urges a restoration of the credit which served to reduce child poverty in Alaska by more than 50% when it was in place two years ago. This resolution has been referred to Health and Social Services.

Representative Dibert with Apagruk (Roy Agloinga), President of First Alaskans Institute.

Representative Dibert with Ben Mallot, Vice President of External Affairs AFN and Chief of Staff Sarah Evans (above left). Representatives Dibert and Mina after their panel at the Alaska Just Transition Summit in Juneau.

Representative Dibert with Vivian Stiver in town advocating for senior housing.

The 33rd Legislature in Action

If you are interested in what's going on during session, you can read about and watch all the action in Juneau. You can watch every single floor session, hearing, and committee meeting live or on an archived basis at Gavel Alaska. Reach out to my office if you need help locating any of these items or if you want to testify on the budget or any bills in committee.

See below for useful links for citizens to track what's happening:



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


The PFD application deadline approaches very soon!

The 2024 PFD filing season is coming to a close. The deadline is nearly upon us. The application period is open until 11:59 PM Sunday, March 31, 2024. You can get more information and apply online 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: fairbanks.jobcenter@alaska.gov

* Employers: fairbanks.employers@alaska.gov

Thanks for staying engaged! I hope to see you in Fairbanks the next time I am in town. Thank you to the hundreds of you who have corresponded on issues that you feel are important.


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,

View this E-News as a Webpage

Stay in Touch and Stay Informed

Representative Dibert with Chief of staff Sarah Evans and Tammy Smith sporting Red for Ed attire.

Contact Our Office

• Representative Dibert: Rep.Maxine.Dibert@akleg.gov


• Chief of Staff: Sarah.evans@akleg.gov


• Legislative Aide:

Tammy.Smith@akleg.gov


 Office Phone: 907-465-2138


Web: https://akhouse.org/rep-dibert/


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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