Budget and Fiscal Plan:
With a bipartisan House majority and an outstanding Senate Finance team, we put together a responsible budget that is fiscal constrained but funds core services. Thanks to passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, we also were able to invest in long overdue capital projects and provide much needed relief for hard-hit businesses and non-profits. Unfortunately, the House minority chose to vote “no” on the CBR draw and reverse sweep, so while we passed an operating budget the minority’s no vote on funding cut the Permanent Fund Dividend in half and blocks execution of Power Cost Equalization, higher education scholarship, and many other key programs. I expect pressure will grow on minority members to vote “yes” on the reverse sweep later this summer—we have no choice, and must pass the reverse sweep.
Tribal Affairs and Health and Social Services Committees:
Thanks to the leadership of Reps. Tiffany Zulkosky and Liz Snyder, we were able to pass major legislation to protect children, advance state partnerships with tribes, improve social services, and strengthen public safety. I was fortunate to serve on these committees and help pass bills to put the state tribal child welfare compact in statute; reduce hunger through better access to food stamps; formally recognize Alaska Tribes; and support Alaska Native language revitalization. Taken together, these bills will mean stronger families and safer kids, assuming the Senate can pass them next year.
Clean, Affordable Energy:
As a member of both the Energy and Labor and Commerce Committees, I had the opportunity to help advance two bills to expand clean energy and save Alaskans money:
- SB 69 is a bipartisan Senate bill that reduces permitting delays for renewable energy generation. Working closely with Senator Revak, we fast-tracked it through Labor and Commerce so it could be signed into law this year.
- HB 170 would create an Alaska Clean Energy Fund, also known as a “green bank.” We strengthened this administration bill and moved it quickly through committee so it has a real chance of becoming law.
The legislature passed a bill introduced by Rep. Dan Ortiz, which I cosponsored, to make shellfish farm permits renewable. This critical change should significantly expand the mariculture industry...and did you know that shellfish and kelp operations (which often exist side by side) improve water quality and reduce local effects of ocean acidification? I also worked with local stakeholders in an ongoing effort to restore direct flights from Asia in order to expand the tourism industry and number of “independent travelers” in Anchorage.