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Saturday, March 5

Greetings,
We're entering the third month of the legislative session and while we have a lot of work ahead, things are beginning to come together in Juneau. This past week, we closed out the operating budget subcommittees in the House, the University of Alaska's President gave the State of the University address, and I got to attend the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference in Anchorage. I also spearheaded a proposal to provide relief to Alaskans struggling with expected energy costs increases, and had the opportunity to meet with local leaders from King Cove and Unalaska to hear about what's important to them in their communities back home. The Spring revenue forecast is expected to bring more than $1 billion of additional revenue to the state. With that information in hand, the Finance Committee will be able to complete it's work on the operating budget. 
Energy Relief Checks
Support for All Alaskans

On Wednesday, the Alaska House Coalition announced a plan to pay all eligible Alaskans a one-time $1,300 Energy Relief Check in addition to a $1,250 PFD. With fuel prices on the rise, these payments will provide essential assistance to Alaskans who bear the brunt of sharply climbing energy costs. As higher oil prices boost revenues coming into the state, it’s important that we take this opportunity to provide relief to Alaskans grappling with increased costs on fuel, food, and other necessities.
House Finance Subcommittee Closeouts
Working Towards a Budget

This week, the House took the first step in drafting the state's operating budget by closing out the budget subcommittees. These subcommittees review the budget requests for each department and advance recommendations to the House Finance Committee. This year, I served as Chair of the subcommittees for the Departments of Corrections, Fish & Game, and Commerce, Community and Economic Development. I presented my subcommittee reports to the Finance Committee on Tuesday. As it currently stands, the proposed budget includes increased funding for public schools, senior and disability services, regional and community jails, and public broadcasting. As we continue working through the process, I'll be focused on delivering a budget that serves all Alaskans.
Internship Opportunities with Senator Murkowski
Summer Intern Program for Recent High School Graduates

Senator Murkowski is accepting internship applications from graduating seniors who are interested in spending three to four weeks in her Washington, D.C. office this Summer. The Senator will select a total of twelve students from all areas of Alaska to participate in two separate, three to four week sessions (6 students per session). Program dates are June 6 - June 24, and July 11 - August 5 and the application deadline is 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 13. More information on this opportunity is available here.

Proposal to Split Department of Health & Social Services
Moving Too Fast?

Last week, the House Finance Committee heard a presentation on Executive Order 121, the Governor’s proposal to split the Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS) into two agencies. The Governor’s plan would create a Department of Health and a separate Department of Family & Community Services. On February 14, the Legislature’s Division of Legal and Research Services issued a memorandum spelling out serious concerns about the proposed action. Dividing DHSS into separate departments requires significant changes to our laws. I understand the Governor’s aspirations to improve DHSS and the critical services it provides to Alaskans, but I also believe it’s essential for the Legislature to play a more significant role in this process.
House Bill 358 (Renewable Energy Grant Fund)
Energy Bill Moves Out of 1st Committee 

Last week, I told you about HB358, my bill to extend the Renewable Energy Grant Fund (REF) for another ten years. This fund has been instrumental in helping communities around the state develop more renewable energy sources. I’m pleased to report that this week, after being heard in the House Energy Committee, HB358 was approved by the Energy Committee and passed on to the House Finance Committee. There’s an identical bill in the Senate (SB202) that also cleared its first committee of referral this week. I look forward to presenting this bill in the Finance Committee and seeing this important program continue to provide funding for renewable energy projects around the state.
 
Creating Safer Communities
House Tribal Affairs Committee Hears Presentation on Missing and Murdered Indigenous People

On Thursday, the House Tribal Affairs Committee heard a presentation on missing and murdered indigenous people. Department of Public Safety (DPS) Commissioner, James Cockrell told the committee that there’s extensive evidence that Alaska Natives, and specifically Alaska Native women, are victimized at a higher rate than anyone else in our state. Commissioner Cockrell went on to talk about the actions DPS is taking to address this deeply troubling issue. The committee also heard from Valerie Chadwick (a Community Development Manager at RurAL CAP, and recent appointee to the Governor’s Council on Missing and Murdered Indigenous People) and Debra O’Gara (a Senior Policy Specialist with the Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center). Ms. Chadwick and Ms. O’Gara both spoke to the need to improve public awareness and provide comprehensive behavioral health services, in addition to increased public safety resources, as we work to create safer communities in our state.
State of the University
University President Delivers 2022 Address

On Thursday, newly confirmed University of Alaska President, Pat Pitney, gave the annual State of the University address. President Pitney spelled out a number of priorities that include increasing student enrollment, focusing on workforce development, and advancing the Alaska Native Success Initiative. I know that under President Pitney’s leadership, the University of Alaska will continue to provide quality academic programs that drive opportunity for Alaska and its people.
Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference (SWAMC)
Legislative Delegation Presents at SWAMC

On Thursday and Friday, leaders from across Southwest Alaska gathered in Anchorage for the annual SWAMC Economic Summit and Membership Meeting. The meeting focused on efforts to move past the economic turmoil created by the pandemic. Other issues included fisheries, public safety, tourism, transportation, and energy, with a gubernatorial debate on the last day. I appreciate all of the local leaders who participated and I'll continue doing my best to work with them to address the needs of their communities.
On Deck
Items of interest on the legislative calendar
Coming Up This Week:

Monday March 7th
(H) Education 8:00AM
HB 173 School Climate & Connectedness
-Public Testimony-
HB 335 Rampart School: Yukon-Koyukuk District
-Public Testimony-
(S) Education 9:00AM
Senate Bill: Teacher Registered Apprentice Programs
-Pending Introduction and Referral-
Presentation: “Teacher Certification Laws” by Sondra Meredith
(H)Finance 1:30PM
HB 272 Increase Base Student Allocation
HB 273 Increase Base Student Allocation Inflation
(H)Labor & Commerce 3:15PM
Workforce Development in Rural Alaska

Tuesday March 8th
(H)Tribal Affairs 8:00AM
HB 313 Village Public Safety Officer Grants
(H)Fisheries 10:00AM
Presentation: Coast Guard Fisheries Mission by Captain Jason Brennell, Commander Connor Sullivan, Commander Lyly Kessler and Lieutenant Ben Hinchman; United States Coast Guard
(H)Ways & Means 11:30AM
HB 376 Strategic Plans for State Agencies

Wednesday March 9th
(H)Education 8:00AM
Presentation: Demonstrating Teaching Reading through Culture
(S)Education 9:00AM
Senate Bill: Teacher Registered Apprentice Programs
-Pending Introduction and Referral-
Presentation: University of Alaska Teacher Programs by Amy Vinlove, University of Alaska
(H)Finance 9:00AM
HB 209 Emergency Firefighters
HB 135 Geothermal Resources
(S)Judiciary 1:30PM
SB 187 Harassment; Sex Offenders & Offenses
SB 189 Crime of Sex/Human Trafficking
(H)Finance 1:30PM
HB 110 Age For Nicotine/E-Cig; Tax E-Cig.
HB 104 Motor Fuel Tax; Vehicle Reg. Fee
SB 33 Seafood Product Development Tax Credit
(H)Labor & Commerce 3:15PM
HB 363 Broadband: Office, Grants, Parity
-Public Testimony-
HB 372 Eliminate Minimum Wage Exemption
-Public Testimony-

Thursday March 10th
(H)Tribal Affairs 8:00AM
HB 313 Village Public Safety Officer Grants
-Public Testimony-
Presentation: Violence Against Women Act and MMIP
(H)Finance 1:30PM
HB 283 Approp: Cap; Reapprop; Supp
Presentation: University of Alaska Deferred Maintenance
Presentation: Municipal Harbor Matching Grants By Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
(S)Health & Social Services 1:30PM
SB 175 Health Care Services by Telehealth
-Public Testimony-
SB 192 Board of Licensed Midwives
-Public Testimony-
(S)State Affairs 3:30PM
SB 207 Access To Marijuana Conviction Records
HB 123 State Recognition of Tribes
HB 187 State Agency Publications
SB 129 Election Pamphlet Information Re: Judges
SB 214 Liability: Social Media Censorship

Friday March 12th
(H)Education 8:00am
SB 72 Sec. School Civics Education
-Public Testimony-
HB 147 Rural Def. Teacher Education Loan Program
-Public Testimony-
HB 312 Allow Natural Hairstyles
-Public Testimony-
(S)Education 9:00am
SB 146 University: Textbooks/Materials Cost
SB 34 State-Tribal Education Compact Schools
HB 132 School Apprenticeship Progs; Tax Credits
(S)Judiciary 1:30PM
SB 187 Harassment; Sex Offenders & Offenses
SB 189 Crime of Sex/Human Trafficking
(S)Resources 3:30PM
HB 54 Invasive Species Management
-Public Testimony-
 
Taking a minute for a group picture with the delegation from Unalaska. Included in the picture are Mayor Vince Tutiakoff, City Manager Erin Reinders and City Council Members Thomas Bell, Alejandro Tungul, and Dennis Robinson
I tried to get Mayor Tutiakoff to trade his vest for my suitcoat, but he wanted it back!
Councilman Tungul points out where he works in Unalaska
Visiting with Mayor Warren Wilson, City Manager Gary Hennigh, and Assistant City Manager Amber Jusefowytsch, from King Cove. Also pictured are their lobbyists, Mark Hickey and Andrea Watts
Don't forget to file your application for the 2022 Permanent Fund Dividend!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or my staff with any issues or concerns.

All the best,
Office Phone: (907) 465-4451
Toll free: (800) 898-445
 
Contact my staff:
Amory: amory.lelake@akleg.gov
Seth: seth.whitten@akleg.gov
Laib: laib.allensworth@akleg.gov
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