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                                                                                                          May 2, 2022
Greetings,

Today marks day 105 of the legislative session. There's still a lot of work to do, and with 16 days left before the 121 day constitutional limit, things will continue to pick up in the final weeks of the regular session.
 
Last week, the House passed bills to extend tax credits for seafood processorsrenew the state's Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and maintain expanded access to telehealth services for Alaskans around the state.

In the House finance Committee, we heard a new version of the capital budget that's parallel to the version currently in the Senate Finance Committee. On Thursday, I had the opportunity to address Bristol Bay Native Corporation's Leadership Roundtable through Zoom.

My bill creating a state Office of Broadband passed by a vote of 37-2 on the House floor today.  I was glad to see this important legislation pass the House and I'm hopeful we can get it through the Senate and signed into law this year.

BBNC Leadership Roundtable
Gathering to Plan for the Future

Last week, Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) held their annual Leadership Roundtable in Anchorage. On Thursday, I addressed attendees to provide a legislative update.
  • The event marked the 50th anniversary of BBNC and focused on infrastructure, regional collaboration, and economic development.
  • Leaders from communities throughout the Bristol Bay region came together to hear presentations about regional recovery and resilience, economic development and community planning strategies, workforce opportunities and challenges, and funding opportunities to bolster infrastructure in rural Alaska.
  • With the recent influx of pandemic relief funding and upcoming federal infrastructure dollars flowing into the state, the conversations and partnerships facilitated at this meeting are critical to make the most of the opportunities before us.
  • Thanks to BBNC and all those who participated for their vision and leadership. 
Capital Budget
Capital Budget Taking Shape

On Thursday, the House Finance Committee introduced a committee substitute for this year's capital budget.
  • The overall amount included in HB 283 is just over $3.1 billion. More than 2/3 of that comes from federal funds.
  • This years' capital budget will be larger than it’s been in many years and focuses on providing badly needed support to communities.
  • The bill funds 55 projects on the school major maintenance list, provides more than $20 million for the municipal harbor facility grant fund, and allocates $50 million to address the state's deferred maintenance backlog. 
  • HB 283 incorporates many items from the Governor's supplemental request that leverage funds from the federal Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act (IIJA). These include more than $21 million in funding for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation's weatherization program, and $30 million for planning and design of a mainline vessel replacement for the Alaska Marine Highway System
  • The Senate is also working on their version of the capital budget. Somewhere between now and May 18, there will be a final agreement between the two chambers.
  • We will provide more details as they become available.
Hearing on CFEC & Board of Fish Nominees
House Committees Consider Governor's Appointees

The House Fisheries and Resources Committees held a joint hearing on Thursday to consider the Governor's nominations of three members to the Board of Fish, and a Commercial Fisheries Entries Commission (CFEC) commissioner.  .
  • The Governor appointed Thomas Carpenter, David Weisz, and Floyd "Mike" Heimbuch to fill the open seats on the Board of Fish. I’m greatly disappointed that no one from Western Alaska was appointed to the Board of Fish.
  • Glenn Haight is the Governor's nominee for CFEC.
  • CFEC Commissioner appointee Haight worked for the Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program in its early days and most recently served as the Executive Director for the Alaska Board of Fisheries.
  • Committee members' questions largely focused on the future role of CFEC and what the commission can do to conserve and maintain the economic health of Alaska’s commercial fisheries.
  • The House and Senate will meet in joint session this Wednesday, May 4th, to consider these appointees as well as the other individuals the Governor appointed to statewide boards and commissions. 
Summary of Legislation Passed by the House

Bills Moving Off the House Floor

Over the course of the last week, the house passed a number of important bills. Some of the highlights are:

  • HB 322 (AK Marine Hwy System Vessel Replacement Fund): HB 322 establishes that the Alaska Marine Highway System Fund and the Vessel Replacement Fund are not subject to the sweep that would empty these accounts on a yearly basis. The Higher Education Investment Fund that supports college scholarships for Alaskan students is also included in the bill. By eliminating the uncertainty of whether these funds will be swept each year, this legislation helps to stabilize crucial state services that Alaskans rely on.
  •  SB 33 (Seafood Product Development Tax Credit): SB 33 extends the sunset date for a tax credit given to seafood processors that bring value-added salmon and herring products to market and broadens the credit to processors of other seafood products in the state. The bill has passed the House and Senate and is now waiting for the Governor to sign it into law.
  •  HB 265 (Health Care Services by Telehealth): HB 265 modernizes our health care system by extending telehealth provisions that became common place during the pandemic.  The bill ensures providers can continue to care for patients when they cannot physically be together, and enables broader access to behavioral health and specialty care to patients across the state
  • HB 291 (Extending Council on Domestic Violence): HB 291 extends the termination date of the state's Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. The council helps to develop, implement, and maintain Alaska’s domestic violence, sexual assault, and crisis intervention/prevention programs. The bill also adds two new members to the Council (one representative of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, and one representing the Alaska Native community). 
Broadband Bill Passes the House

Bill Creating the Office of Broadband is On to the Senate

Today, HB 363 (Broadband: Office, Grants, Parity), my bill creating the state Office of Broadband was approved by the House on a vote of 37-2. 

  • HB363 establishes the framework that's necessary to accept over $1 billion in federal funding to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved areas of the state.
  • The bill is modeled on the recommendations the Task Force on Broadband made in their report last year.
  • HB 363 brings consumers, industry experts, Tribal partners, and other stakeholders together to create solutions to connect everyone in the state.
I'm excited to see this legislation passed by the House and I'm hopeful the Senate will take action soon so it can be signed into law.
On Deck
Items of interest on the legislative calendar
Coming Up This Week:

Monday May 2nd
(H)Education 8:00AM
SB 34 State-Tribal Education Compact Schools
-Public Testimony-
(S)Finance 9:00AM
HB 291 Extending Council On Domestic Violence
-Public Testimony-
(H)Judiciary 1:00PM
HB 325 Domestic Violence
-Public Testimony-
(H)Finance 1:30PM
SB 190 Regulatory Commission AK/Refuse Utilities
SB 186 Extend Board Of Examiners in Optometry
SB 193 Extend Board Of Chiropractic Examiners
SB 151 Extend Alcoholic Beverage Control Board
(S)Judiciary 1:30PM
SB 124 Mental Health Facilities & Meds
-Public Testimony-
(S)Labor & Commerce 1:30PM
Consideration of Governor’s Appointees:
Board of Nursing - Jody Miller
Board of Certified Direct-Entry Midwives -Hannah St. George      
- Invited & Public Testimony -
HB 265 Healthcare Services by Telehealth
-Invited & Public Testimony-
HB 306 Extend Board of Pharmacy
-Public Testimony-
(S) Resources
SB 84 Land Vouchers; PFDS

Tuesday May 3rd
(H)Finance 9:00AM
HB 413 Facilities Constituting a School
HB 358 Renewable Energy Grant Fund
-Public Testimony-
SB 201 Use of Internet For Charitable Gaming
-Public Testimony-
(H)Fisheries 10:00AM
Presentation: Ocean acidification in Alaska: regional conditions, ecosystems risk and mitigation opportunities by Darren Pilcher, University of Washington CICOES
Claudine Hauri, University of Alaska Fairbanks IARC
Tom Hurst, NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Jessica Cross, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Lab
Darcy Dugan, Alaska Ocean Acidification Network, Alaska Ocean Observing System
HB 397 State Ownership of Submerged Land
(S)Health and Social Services 1:30PM
SB 183 Home and Community-Based Services
HB 382  Insulin Coverage: Insurance; Medicaid
-Public Testimony-
HB 392 Expand Adv. Prac. Reg. Nurse Authority
-Public Testimony-
HB 297 Military Member Child Protection
SB 191 Repeal Covid 19 Disaster Emergency
-Public Testimony-
(H)Health & Social Services 3:00PM
SB 98 Adult Home Care; Adult Adoption
-Public Testimony-
SB 132 Controlled Sub. Data: Exempt Veterinarian

Wednesday May 4th
(H)Education 8:00AM
SB 34 State-Tribal Education Compact Schools
(S)Finance 9:00AM
HB 99 Physical/Occupational Therapy BD/Practice
HB 155 Court System Provide Visitors & Experts
HB 168 Electronic Application for State Benefits
HB 114 Education & Supplemental Loan Programs
HB 157 APOC; Report Referenda/Recall Contributor
-Public Testimony-
(S)Judiciary 9:00AM
SB 124 Mental Health Facilities & Meds
(H)Finance 1:30PM
HB 183 Criminal Justice Data Analysis Commission
-Public Testimony-
SB 20 Out Of State Teacher Reciprocity
HB 120 State Land Sales and Leases; Rivers 
(S)Labor & Commerce 1:30PM
HB 227 Muni Energy Improvement Assessment Program
-Public Testimony-
HB 132 School Apprentice Ship Progs; Tax Credits
-Public Testimony-
HB 30 Workers’ Comp: Death; Perm Partial Impair
-Public Testimony-
(S)Resources 3:30PM
SB 106 Tax On Income: Oil & Gas S-Corp, P’Ship

Thursday May 5th
(H) Finance 9:00AM
SB 45 Age for Nicotine/E-Cig; Tax E-Cig.
(H)Fisheries 10:00AM
HB 397 State Ownership of Submerged Land
(H)Health & Social Services 3:00PM
SB 132 Controlled Sub. Data: Exempt Veterinarian
-Public Testimony-
SB 98 Adult Home Care; Adult Adoption
HB 176 Direct Health Agreement: Not Insurance
-Public Testimony-
(S)State Affairs 3:30PM
Presentation by Dan Robinson, Department of Labor & Workforce
HB 123 State Recognition of Tribes
HB 47 Council For Alaska Native Languages

Friday May 6th
(H)Finance 9:00AM
HB 283 Approp: Cap; Reapprop; Supp
(S)Finance 9:00AM
SB 234 Broadband: Office, Grants, Parity
-Public Testimony-
SB 124 Mental Health Facilities & Meds
-Public Testimony-
SB 175 Health Care Services by Telehealth
-Public Testimony-
(H)Labor & Commerce 9:00AM
HB 301 Utilities: Renewable Portfolio Standard
-Public Testimony-
(H)Judiciary 1:00PM
HB 5 Sexual Assault; Def. Of “Consent”
HB 325 Domestic Violence
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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