Dear Neighbor,

With luck, there are only a few days left in the session, and with many bills in motion, I wanted to provide an update:

Hilcorp Thuggery & Broader Energy Policy

The Senate Resources Committee recently amended HB 50 on carbon storage to close the S Corp tax loophole that has allowed Hilcorp to evade approximately $175 million per year in income taxes. To put this in scale, $175 million is exactly how much we need to finish reversing the last decade of education funding cuts. At a time when producers are earning $50 or so per barrel in profits, I don’t see any justification to exempt Hilcorp from the taxes every other corporation pays simply because of the way the company is incorporated. 


In response to Senate Resources’ amendment, Hilcorp resorted to vague threats that it might shut down natural gas production in Cook Inlet. If Hilcorp attempted that, the state would have clear legal authority to compel production or force Hilcorp to hand over leases to someone who would produce. Unfortunately, the Senate Finance Committee amended HB 50 to remove bill language closing the S Corp loophole. I also support using AIDEA’s vast reserves to invest directly in natural gas production in Cook Inlet to avoid shortages and fix the monopoly that Hilcorp is using to drive up gas prices.


Many other energy policies are pending, including a lengthy transmission bill (SB 257) in Senate Finance and a community energy bill (SB 152) that has passed the Senate and could be on the House floor soon. Many legislators have worked together on these bipartisan proposals to expedite the development of affordable renewable energy projects that will protect consumers against LNG-related cost increases and improve the reliability of our grid. In addition, following strong advocacy, I’m happy to report that the House Capital Budget has increased funding in the Renewable Energy Fund from $4 million as passed in the Senate to $14 million as the bill comes to the floor. I offered an amendment to increase Renewable Energy Fund appropriations by $5 million to expedite projects in rural Alaska and a critical Railbelt wind integration project to keep consumers’ prices as low as possible.

State Board and Commission Confirmations

The House and Senate met in a joint session to consider gubernatorial appointments. Most individuals volunteering for service were confirmed, with two exceptions.


By a large bipartisan margin, we rejected the appointment of Bob Griffin to the Board of Education. Mr. Griffin has advocated for the unconstitutional use of allotments for private and religious education, and he has lobbied to sustain the Governor’s veto of SB 140 (education funding). We also rejected the nomination of Mark Sayampanathan to the Workers Compensation Board over concerns about highly inappropriate and inaccurate statements he made in emails he sent to the Anchorage Assembly and legislators. I voted “no” to confirm both of these individuals.

Mammogram Legislation Close to Finish Line

I’m excited to report that HB 285, my legislation to eliminate cost-sharing for diagnostic mammograms, is nearing the finish line. This bill passed the House, and language from it has been rolled into a broader insurance bill, SB 134, which has passed the Senate and will likely be on the House floor soon. Thanks to Senators Elvi Gray-Jackson, James Kaufman, and Matt Claman, all of whom have collaborated to ensure we get this critical legislation passed this year.

Workplace Safety & Wages

Congratulations to Rep. George Rauscher, whose bill to prohibit warehouse quotas (HB 88) has passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. As companies like Amazon open warehouses in Anchorage -- and impossible-to-meet worker quotas are causing outrageous numbers of workplace injuries in other locations -- this legislation is essential. Measures like this ensure our workplace safety standards keep pace with a changing economy that includes more digital commerce and freight transit.


I continue to oppose HB 149, a union-busting bill that would allow hospitals to break nurse strikes by importing scabs under the Nurse License Compact. Many of us have also fought—successfully so far—to block a bill that would take away overtime pay from nurses. It is striking that so many of these anti-worker bills target nursing. I think there’s an element of sexism in these proposals, and I’ll fight against any bill that lowers wages and benefits, but I’ll work especially hard to defeat bills that would exacerbate the gender wage gap.

Capital Projects

Some of the projects in and around our district that are currently in the capital budget include:


Performing Arts Center Elevator Repairs: This $200,000 increment will help match local funding to fix an elevator that broke during recent Broadway shows. It is embarrassing and unacceptable to leave Alaskans with disabilities stuck in an elevator and leave the theater crew unable to move sets in or out of the building because our facilities are so old that elevators don’t work.


Chester Creek Trail Safety: A $98,000 project in the budget will fund safety improvements at the trail spur connecting the North Star neighborhood with the Chester Creek trail at Eagle Street. This area has been hard-hit by illegal encampments, drug dealing, abandoned vehicles, and frequent gunfire. This is a very important public safety project.


Ship Creek/Coastal Trail Indigenous Gateway: This project will help complete the Ship Creek/Coastal Trail connection and will inform trail users of the area's history. Huge thanks to the Anchorage Park Foundation for advancing these projects year after year to complete connections between Ship, Coastal, Chester, and Fish Creek Trails and ensure wayfinding and Indigenous place names are part of our trail network.


4th Avenue Mushing District: This project will help complete signage and related infrastructure, establishing a “Mushing District” for 4th Avenue. This is an important project for Downtown revitalization and beautification, and I appreciate the American Legion’s advocacy and organizing to advance it.


Many other important capital projects are a little further from our district boundaries but would positively impact our region.

The Anchorage Mayoral Runoff Election is Underway

If you voted by mail in the Anchorage Municipal General Election, you should receive your runoff ballot at the same address. Ballots are due by Tuesday, May 14th. 


All three Anchorage vote centers will be open for in-person voting starting May 7th: City Hall, Loussac Library, and Eagle River Town Center. You can also vote by email if you will be traveling during the election.


To view the map of ballot dropboxes and in-person vote centers, please visit this page.


If you have questions about the Anchorage runoff election, please visit the Anchorage Municipal Elections page.

Chugach Electric Association Election

Voting in the annual Chugach Electric Association Election began on April 17th and will be open until May 17th at 3:00 p.m. You may have received an email from Chugach Electric with a personalized link to cast your ballot.


You can also access the online ballot by:


  1. Going to directvote.net/Chugach or go directly to the Chugach Electric website at chugachelectric.com, select Annual Meeting & Election, and click Vote Now.
  2. When prompted, enter your unique login credentials (Member Number and Election Passcode) 

See you around the neighborhood,


Zack

Representative Zack Fields - House District 17

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