Dear Neighbor,

Alaska has had net out-migration and near worst-in-the-nation economic performance for a decade, and coming into this session I’ve thought we have to move beyond damage control and do everything we can to get our state back on track. The priorities of the Senate majority and our House Coalition certainly are focused on that, starting with restoring adequate education funding and defined benefit pensions for public employees. 

Yet it is easy to get lost in the daily chaos of meetings, hearings, and whatever small-bore bill, citation, or controversy that can consume one’s time in any given day. Then, Senator Lisa Murkowski’s stunning address to the legislature reminded me that we really need to stay focused on our priorities.

Honestly, I have never seen a speech like this. Senator Murkowski correctly identified recent wins for Alaska, from the bipartisan infrastructure law to funding of port and ferry projects across the state. But she noted—correctly—we will not and cannot get back on track until the legislature funds basic services that any civilized society depends on to thrive

She urged us to use federal ferry funding as a lifeline to save and rebuild the ferry system. That means we need to build the Marine Highway Trust fund so we’re self-sufficient five years from now when federal funds run out. She asked us to pass child care legislation such as the bill I’ve introduced, and noted that the child care crisis is so severe it is undermining the armed services ability to protect our state and nation. She noted how dangerous it would be for utilities to become reliant on imported LNG as Cook Inlet gas production declines—which, by the way, will double or triple electric and heating prices in our community. This is exactly the kind of call to action we need. 

thread Alaska spoke on the urgent need for the Legislature to invest in the childcare sector to support a broad economy recovery

AARP Alaska discussed priorities for older Alaskans

Alaska Food Coalition discussed hunger in Alaska

Here’s where we are with some key bills and appropriations work:

Base Student Allocation (BSA) Education Funding:

I’m a cosponsor of HB 65, Rep Ortiz’s bill to raise the BSA by $1,250. This bill has received its first hearing in the Education Committee.


I’m working with the Anchorage Community Development Authority on federal earmark requests to accelerate redevelopment of vacant parcels or derelict buildings downtown. 

Public Safety and Parks:

I’m working with the Anchorage Parks Foundation on federal earmark requests and state budget CAPSIS requests to support a range of parks projects in the Chester Creek, Coastal Trail, and Ship Creek corridors, including establishing safe, well-lighted gateways to trails in the North Star neighborhood and major upgrades to Eastchester Park on the southern border of Fairview.

Child Care:

The Labor and Commerce Committee marked up my child care bill, HB 46, this week, including with an amendment to establish a tax credit for companies that either subsidize child care or construct new child care facilities. I hope we’re able to move this bill to its next committee of referral in the near future. This legislation was recently featured in ADN coverage and in Senator Murkowski’s speech.


In partnership with other legislators, I wrote a workforce development overview to help guide our work across legislative and budgetary deliberations. It focuses on strengthening school-to-apprenticeship and other school-to-work programs, expanding college credit opportunities for apprenticeship and other on-the-job training, and make necessary IT upgrades so our state employees can work more efficiently rather than waste time managing computer systems that were out of date decades ago. I’ve included an outline below that identifies workforce development opportunities.

SNAP Backlog:

Following in-depth hearings with the Department of Health on the SNAP backlog and consultation with non-profits on the front lines addressing hunger, other legislators and I wrote a letter supporting quick action to reduce the SNAP backlog and address food insecurity. 

I will be in Anchorage with my family for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod on Saturday, March 4th, and for the annual Anchorage Caucus public input session on Sunday, March 5th at 2pm at Rasmuson Hall on UAA’s campus. I really miss seeing you when I’m working in Juneau, so maybe one of those events will be a chance to catch up.


The Alaska AFL-CIO fly-in brought union representatives to Juneau from around the state.

UNITE HERE Local 878

IBEW Local 1547

Alaska AFL-CIO

Workforce Development Opportunities

Construction and Resource Development:

  • Expand pre-apprenticeship capacity
  • Use federal funds to expand school-to-apprenticeship and other school-to-work programs
  • Leverage federal funds to align college degrees with apprenticeships
  • Jump-start CTE expansion with federal/state funds in partnership with school districts

Health Care:

  • Expand DCCED licensure staffing to reduce license review backlog—support Governor’s revised budget request for DCCED/CBPL
  • Support expansion of APCA apprenticeship for hospitals using federal funds, in partnership with federal and state DOL.
  • Partner with AHEC to grow the pipeline of high school graduates entering health professions

State Recruitment and Retention:

  • Restore classroom BSA funding and index it to inflation
  • Restore meaningful retirement benefits for teachers, troopers, and other front-line civil servants
  • Address deferred capital investments including antiquated IT systems to enhance state efficiency and reduce employee burnout

Workforce Development:

  • Invest in high quality technical and vocational training to support Alaska’s high-demand careers and grow our own 
  • Support the University of Alaska as our state’s largest provider of workforce development and education 

Representative Zack Fields - House District 17

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