New House Majority!
Dear Neighbor,

I am thrilled that we have broken the gridlock in the House, electing a Speaker Louise Stutes of Kodiak, and establishing a new bipartisan majority. This was only possible because of the courage and leadership of Speaker Stutes, Representative Kelly Merrick of Eagle River, and Representative Sara Rasmussen of Sand Lake. I was honored to nominate Representative Stutes as Speaker, and look forward to working alongside my colleagues in a new bipartisan majority. 
Committee Assignments:
I will be co-chairing the House Labor and Commerce Committee with Ivy Spohnholz, and will be a member of the Resources and Health and Social Services Committee. These committees are an opportunity to support job creation and economic growth, and to continue progress on strengthening our health care system. In Labor and Commerce, we have already scheduled hearings on my draft bipartisan legislation (with Rep. Ken McCarty of Eagle River) to strengthen career and technical education programs including apprenticeship.

Disaster Declaration:
The House and Senate both passed resolutions supporting an administrative extension of the COVID-19 disaster declaration. The Governor chose not to extend the declaration, which will slow distribution of vaccines, reducing COVID testing opportunities, and give up $8 million in federal food assistance at a time when record numbers of Alaska families are going hungry. I am hopeful the House can act quickly to pass a legislative extension of the disaster declaration. We must continue the fastest possible rate of vaccinations while maintaining testing capacity. Until we conquer COVID-19, our downtown businesses cannot recover.
Tourism and Cruise Industry:
Canada announced it will not let cruise ships dock en route from the Lower 48 to Alaska this year, due to the pandemic. This puts Alaska’s cruise ship season at grave risk. Fortunately, the Biden administration could fix this problem by waiving fines under the Passenger Vessel Service Act (PVSA). Along with Senators Begich and Kiehl, I wrote a letter to the President urging his administration to waive these fines and keep our cruise ships operating. Thank you to the dozens of House and Senate members who cosigned this letter. We need to sustain cruise traffic to support our Downtown businesses (not to mention businesses in Ketchikan, Juneau, and beyond).
Arctic Policy:
Thanks to former Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell for the opportunity to participate in a prestigious Arctic Policy roundtable hosted by the Wilson Center. We discussed a wide range of topics including my efforts, along with other Anchorage-area legislators, to re-establish direct flights from Tokyo that would increase tourism in Anchorage and support our Downtown businesses.
In closing, we have worked through a very challenging week to establish a new majority under the leadership of Speaker Stutes. Thank you again to those members like Representatives Merrick and Rasmussen who demonstrated real courage in breaking the gridlock. I’m proud to be part of a legislature whose members put aside partisanship to work on behalf of all Alaskans. My goal is to work with members of any caucus and any party whenever we can find common ground. Now we can get to work stabilizing our economy and continuing the battle against COVID-19.  
See you around the neighborhood,
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