House Passes Education Funding
April 22, 2021
Dear Neighbors,

Great news: The House has passed legislation (HB 169) to fund K-12 education for Fiscal Year 2022 and Fiscal Year 2023. If passed by the Senate and signed into law, this legislation will prevent pink slips and provide school districts with stable funding that they need to provide quality education. House Finance co-chairs Neal Foster and Kelly Merrick wrote this legislation to provide early education funding for FY 2022, and Representative Rasmussen sponsored a floor amendment that ensures it will pre-fund education for FY 2023. Please share your thanks with these legislators for their work to support our public education system.  

While early education funding is important every year, it is essential this year. With passage of the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), it is not possible for the legislature to pass a budget by May 15th, since we won’t get federal guidance on ARPA funding until May 10th. As a result of integrating ARPA funding into our operating and capital budgets, it was necessary to pass HB 169 to fund schools prior to May 15th and prevent pink slips.
Strengthening our Child Care System:
Rep. Spohnholz and I published an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News about our committee’s work to strengthen the child care system. I’ve been meeting with child care providers as we collaborate on HB 149, legislation I introduced to raise wages and benefits for providers. 
Supporting Small Businesses:
Over the last few months I’ve visited businesses around the district to learn more about how COVID is impacting our local economy and what we can do to support economic recovery downtown. I’ve heard loud and clear we need a strong summer season for many local businesses to survive, and that we won’t have adequate numbers of shoppers and diners return until we contain COVID and people can feel safe being inside without masks.

Right now, over 50% of Anchorage residents have received at least one vaccination shot, and we need to reach at least 70% for herd immunity. We held a House Labor and Commerce hearing this week featuring downtown and other business owners who urged Alaskans to get vaccinated and help businesses recover. These business voices are important to help achieve herd immunity and combat misinformation about vaccines that circulates on social media.  

Sara Green, owner of Sara's Gift Cache located in Downtown Anchorage called into Labor and Commerce on Wednesday, April 21st. Her testimony spoke to the need for vaccinations in order to help businesses recover. Her business is currently operating with safety precautions!
Heidi Heinrich, co-owner of Lucky Wishbone, and I during a pre-pandemic visit at the landmark restaurant. Heidi called into Labor and Commerce on Wednesday, April 21st. Her testimony emphasized a need for increased Covid-19 vaccination rates in order to succeed as a business.
Honoring Jane Angvik and Vic Fischer
I was honored to attend Congregation Beth Shalom’s Shining Lights ceremony honoring our neighbors Vic Fischer and Jane Angvik for a lifetime of contributions to Alaska. Collectively, we are going to run out of awards to give Vic and Jane, and they have more than earned all of them. Please share your congratulations when you see them in the neighborhood. 
Legislative Update:
We’ve been moving a lot of bills I support through the committee process, but here are a few worth highlighting:
  • Today the Health and Social Services Committee passed HB 133, to update the ABLE Act. Labor and Commerce co-chair Ivy Spohnholz and I developed this bill in consultation with former Senate President Cathy Giessel, who along with former Representative Saddler passed the original ABLE Act. This important bill helps Alaskans with disabilities save for education, transportation, and housing so they can live as independently as possible.
  • The Health and Social Services Committee passed HB 58, ensuring uninterrupted insurance coverage for contraception. This bill next goes to Labor and Commerce and I look forward to supporting it again.
  • The Health and Social Services Committee has begun hearing HB 184, to require the state to compact with tribes on child welfare. We already have put funding for this in the pending budget, and thanks to Representative Zulkosky for her leadership on this bill.

Tent City Taphouse, located in downtown Anchorage
See you around the neighborhood,
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