Wow, what a week.
May 3, 2021
Dear Neighbors,

Well that was a quite a week. Thanks to strong leadership from Speaker Louise Stutes, Rules Chairman Bryce Edgmon, and HSS Committee Co-Chairs Tiffany Zulkosky and Liz Snyder, the legislature passed HB 76, Covid response legislation that ensures we collect millions of dollars in federally-funded food relief for hungry families. Unfortunately, after he signed this legislation the Governor immediately ended the Covid disaster declaration. This has far-reaching impacts, from the inability to do mandatory airport Covid testing for incoming travelers to licensing chaos for nurses working the front lines at our hospitals. 

One provision of HB 76 that didn’t get a lot of attention is extension of charities’ ability to sell raffle tickets online, mirroring HB 128 (which I introduced at the request of downtown business owners and supporters of our non-profits). Thank you to Senator Josh Revak, Senator Begich, and Speaker Stutes, all of whom played a key role in getting this language passed to help provide financial stability for our hard-hit charities. We still need to pass HB 128 for permanent regulatory reform, but HB 76 extends online charitable raffle sales through June 2022.
We worked through dozens of amendments, over two days, to the operating budget, HB 69. After the minority asked to adjourn, the bill was up for final passage on Sunday. Then, in a bait and switch, the minority asked for more time to offer dozens more “gotcha” messaging amendments. In an abundance of charity, Speaker Stutes referred the bill back to the Rules committee. This experience is an illustration that our legislative processes are predicated on good faith, and when self-described obstructionists like to try to filibuster the process, our systems no longer work. I admire the Speaker’s patience in extending an olive branch time after time, even when a few among the minority act in bad faith (to be clear, most minority members act in good faith but just a few can create gridlock).

I hope you will examine the substance of this budget. It funds our constitutionally mandated public services at levels generally consistent with last year, and maintains fidelity to our Percent of Market Value (POMV) law that protects the Permanent Fund. This budget strikes the right balance between fiscal discipline and investment in core services, and I appreciate the hard work of Finance members to put it together. I also appreciate the work of many members to reject super-size dividends that would drain the Permanent Fund and put us into a fiscal death spiral. We saw strong, bipartisan and cross-caucus votes in defense of our Permanent Fund, and that gives me faith that we can work through our fiscal challenges both this year and in the future.

We are supposed to adjourn by May 19 and for the sake of my family I sure hope we do. It will be a chaotic end of session as we push operating and capital budgets across the finish lines while integrating American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) relief. Thank goodness we have a seasoned leadership team in the bipartisan majority to lead our caucus through incredibly challenging terrain.

Principal Ahrens, Inlet View Elementary
I was happy to catch up with Principal Ahrens from Inlet View Elementary recently. I have been visiting schools and small businesses this session when I’ve been home, so let me know if you own a small business I haven’t visited recently or if you just want to catch up.
FAFSA Open Now!

Why the FAFSA? Why now? Find out why submitting the FAFSA is a critical step in achieving your college and career goals. Visit to learn about the new Alaskan initiative going on NOW to help Alaskans complete FAFSA! This is a centralized site that helps connect Alaskans to a variety of funding resources.

FAFSA connects students to institutional aid, scholarships, state aid, and federal aid. Be sure that the students seeking higher education in your life file their FAFSA.
See you around the neighborhood,
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