Dear Neighbor,

Thanks to everyone who participated in public input on education funding. I’m sure you’ve read in the paper how House Republican leadership took a broadband and education funding bill and stuffed it full with multiple controversial provisions to take away local control of charter schools and divert money into bonuses rather than Base Student Allocation (BSA) funding. 


As I write this newsletter, it appears that the House leadership miscalculated and now lacks the vote to pass this bill. Of course, I support increasing BSA funding and don’t support taking away School Board oversight of charter school programs. School districts are preparing budgets right now, so it is imperative that we figure out how to get an education funding bill moving again.

Honoring Vic Fischer:


I recently introduced House Bill 300 to name the University of Alaska’s Constitution Hall after Vic Fischer and House Bill 301 to name the Fairbanks International Airport after Vic Fischer. His contributions to this state are so numerous and profound that it’s challenging to identify the best package of landmarks to name after him. 


Constitution Hall is eminently logical, but I’d also like to see us name other landmarks to help remind residents and visitors to the state about Vic's centrality in establishing our Constitutional framework and, for several communities, including Anchorage, shaping the landscape and neighborhoods we live in today. 


Vic lived and worked in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Juneau and was the city planner for smaller communities like Valdez. If you have additional ideas on how to honor Vic Fischer, please let me know, and if you want to share your support for HB 300/301, send me an email.

Alaska Anti-Trafficking Coalition,

a new nonprofit helping to combat human trafficking in Alaska

Alaska Graduate Worker's Association, a new University of Alaska labor union.

Interim ED Maggie Humm from Alaska Legal Services

Alaska Nurses Association

Alaska Reentry Partnership

Breast Cancer Prevention:


Following discussions with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, I introduced legislation (HB 285) to ensure full insurance coverage (without cost sharing, deductibles, or copays) of diagnostic breast exams. Unfortunately, the costs of such exams appear to be discouraging utilization by working-class women, and the goal of this legislation is to ensure prompt detection and treatment of breast cancer.


Parental Leave Legislation Advances:


I’m happy to share that HB 100 (by Rep Armstrong; I’m a cosponsor) has passed from the House Labor and Commerce Committee. I appreciate Chairman Jesse Sumner’s work in advancing this bill quickly. It would establish paid parental and family leave for state employees and make such leave available to the University, local governments, school districts, and private employers. This bill would help reverse outmigration and is necessary to make Alaska a great place to raise a family. It would also reduce infant mortality, improve children’s health, and help drive down state insurance costs.


Pension Reform Advances


Congratulations to Senate Majority Leader Cathy Giessel, whose legislation to restore defined benefit pensions for public employees (SB 88) just passed the state senate. The passage of this bill, BSA education funding, and energy are my caucus’s highest priorities.

Improving our Greenbelt Parks:



I’m working with members of the North Star and South Addition Community Councils and Municipal Parks and Recreation staff to see if we can pull together a challenge grant application to build a bicycle pump track at Valley of the Moon Park as part of broader efforts to improve park facilities throughout the Chester Creek trail system. Tune into the next North Star or South Addition Community Council meeting if you’d like to be involved.


Constituent Coffee:


I’ll be at New Sagaya City Market at 8:15 am this Sunday, February 4th if you’d like to stop by and talk about state issues.


See you around the neighborhood,


Zack

Representative Zack Fields - House District 17

Serving Downtown, South Addition, Forest Park, North Star, and Fairview