Dear Neighbor,

I’m writing to invite you to the annual Anchorage Caucus public input meeting this Sunday,

March 4, from 2-4pm at Rasmuson Hall on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.

This is an opportunity to testify to Anchorage area legislators about your budget and legislative priorities. Here are some other legislative updates:

Senate Leaders Introduces Pension Reform:

Senate President Gary Stevens, Majority Leader Cathy Giessel, Rules Chair Bill Wielechowski, Labor and Commerce Chair Jesse Bjorkman, and Finance Members Kelly Merrick and Jesse Kiehl held a press conference this week announcing legislation to restore a defined benefit pension option for all public employees. Senator Giessel is the prime sponsor of this bill, and Senator Bjorkman promised quick action to begin vetting the bill. Along with a BSA increase, this is by far the most important issue we need to address this session.

House Coalition Urges Faster Progress on BSA, Pension Reform:

Representatives Schrage, Story, Carrick, Galvin and I held a press conference this week urging faster action to get BSA and defined benefit legislation to the House floor. Read more in the ADN.

Child Care:

We made major progress on child care this week as the Labor and Commerce Committee unanimously advanced my bill, HB 46. In addition, Reps. Coulombe, Armstrong and I introduced a bipartisan child care reform bill, HB 89. These bills are complementary, and contain the following policy options:

HB 46: Sectoral bargaining, child care trust fund, employer tax credits

HB 89: Expand number of families eligible for child care subsidies, update subsidy rates to reflect real cost of care

Now both these bills await action in the Health and Social Services Committee, which largely has overlapping membership with Labor and Commerce. I appreciate the strong bipartisan support these members and Labor and Commerce Chair Jesse Sumner have shown in prioritizing child care this session.

University of Alaska Students

Workforce Development:

I met with Acting Commissioner Cathy Munoz of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to discuss workforce development opportunities ranging from school-to-apprenticeship to alignment of college credit for more workers doing on-the-job training, and have had related discussions with a wide range of stakeholders from hospital administrators to home builders to school district staff. We have to do a better job building out cradle-to-career opportunities for Alaskans.

Department of Health Articulates Plan for SNAP Backlog:

In response to a bipartisan letter I wrote, which was signed by half of all House members,

DOH Commissioner Heidi Hedberg laid out a comprehensive plan for how the department is working to address the SNAP backlog. I appreciate Commissioner Heidi Hedberg’s hard work to address this backlog, which she inherited when appointed. In addition to department action, we as legislators need to appropriate funds to update the department’s extraordinarily antiquated IT system, and I hope we’re able to do that with this year’s capital budget.

Care for Elders and Alaskans with Disabilities:

It was an honor to meet this week with care givers and advocates who serve in administrative and board positions with care agencies. Together, we are working to build on the progress we made last year to increase funding for people who rely on home and community-based services, primarily through the Department of Health budget.

Sustainable Budget:

The Governor's Council on Disabilities

and Special Education spoke on issues

that impact individuals with intellectual

and developmental disabilities

I introduced legislation (HB 90) to set the PFD at $1,000. This is consistent with original legislative intent (the first dividend was $1,000), would help ensure we protect our POMV spending cap, is similar to the historical average PFD over the last 40 years, and most importantly it would be affordable at a range of oil prices while ensuring we can invest in education, infrastructure, and the other public services that are essential for a prosperous society. As I wrote in a recent ADN op-ed, we must fund these basic services and not sacrifice them for unaffordable dividends. 

Insulin Costs Capped at $35:

Last year, President Biden signed into law a cap on insulin at $35 for seniors on Medicare. This week, Eli Lily & Co - the largest manufacturer of insulin in the US, announced that they will cap the cost of insulin to $35 a month for all consumers. This comes after years of public outcry from Americans who have been financially devastated by Eli Lily's price-gouging for the life saving drug.

I hope to see you this weekend at the Iditarod ceremonial start or Anchorage Caucus,


Representative Zack Fields - House District 17

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