March 20, 2023 


Dear Friends and Neighbors: 

For any House District 2 team who lost a game this year to the undefeated Kake Thunderbirds, don't feel bad. It turns out they truly were unbeatable!


Here in Juneau it suddenly feels a lot like spring, and one sign of spring in Juneau is the arrival of Gold Medal basketball – I’m looking forward to some exciting games this week. It will be great to connect with constituents from across House District 2!  


The budget subcommittees work wrapped up the week before last and we are back to regular committee work. The House Education Committee met four times last week, including a joint meeting with the Senate Education Committee and a joint meeting with the House Ways and Means Committee. In addition to the three regular weekly meetings, this week the Education Committee will meet Tuesday evening for the purpose of public testimony on Representative Ortiz’s bill to increase the base student allocation. Please see below for more details. 


During the legislative session, when I am in Juneau, you are my eyes and ears in House District 2, and I look forward to hearing from you. Please

email me at, or call my office at (907) 465-3732, with general questions, suggestions or concerns. If you are going to be in Juneau for the Gold Medal Tournament or another reason, I look forward to meeting with you. Just call ahead and set up a time with my office staff.   


As always, please share Southeast Swell with your contacts and encourage them to sign up to receive the newsletter – we would like to reach more people across the region! 


HJR 5, ALASKA FISHERIES; TROLL FISHERIES (supporting the trollers) was read across on the Senate floor Friday and will be discussed and voted on today. It has been humbling to see the Southeast Alaska community come together to support our trollers in the face of a frivolous lawsuit claiming the fishery is harming killer whales in Puget Sound, 1000 miles away, while ignoring the threats to both salmon and orcas in the local environment. Alaskans have every reason in the world to protect salmon and the robust habitats that have been locally stewarded for millennia. We will continue to push back on this attempt to manage an Alaskan fishery from afar by lawsuit rather than sound science. 

Last week the House Fisheries Committee considered HB 92, FISHERMEN’S FUND: VESSEL OWNER CLAIMS, which would increase the available funds to vessel owners and crew from the Fishermen’s Fund to $15,000 per incident. Created by fishermen before statehood in 1951, this fund is essential to help uninsured fishermen who are injured on the job and to help with insurance deductibles when there is an injury on a vessel with insurance. Thankfully, the need for this fund has been low in recent years. 


The situation with our ferries is dire, to say the least, but there is reason for optimism on the distant horizon. With federal funds on the way to replace vessels and refurbish others, as well as upgrade or build new terminals, the ferry system will begin to slowly improve over time. Please continue to provide input to the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) at every opportunity – the system needs to continue to hear from the communities they serve. 


The AMHS recently launched a new program called “Charting the Course” to plan the future of the marine highway system. On the website for the new program, you can both comment and monitor AMHS operations. While the Department of Transportation is committed to improving service, I am afraid service for the next couple of years will continue to be minimal. Along with the other coastal legislators, I will continue to advocate for the restoration of service, especially in winter months. 

Education Committee

The House and Senate Education Committees met in a joint hearing on Wednesday to receive the annual report from the State Board of Education. The Board is working in committees to advance the strategic priorities of Alaska’s Education Challenge:

  1. Support all students to read at grade level by the end of third grade.
  2. Increase career, technical, and culturally relevant education to meet student and workforce needs.
  3. Close the achievement gap by ensuring equitable educational rigor and resources.
  4. Prepare, attract, and retain effective education professionals.
  5. Improve the safety and well-being of students through school partnerships with families, communities, and tribes.

Five respondents to the Board’s call for proposals to pilot tribal compacting are moving forward, including a proposal from the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida. Work also continues to advance the Alaska Reads Act, passed last year, to ensure students can read by third grade.  


In a joint session with the House Ways and Means Committee the House Education Committee also heard a presentation on Education and Alaska’s Economy from the Alaska Policy Forum last Wednesday. While there is no doubt Alaska’s economy is tied to our education system there was little presented in this meeting that couldn’t be accomplished through an excellent and well funded system of public schools.  


Tune in next week for more education news or log onto to watch live on Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8:00-10:00 am or any pre-recorded meeting anytime. 

Guest Pages

It was fun to have Waylon Jones from Petersburg and Felix Myers from Sitka on the House Floor last week as Guest Pages! House District 2 youth representing!


Waylon Jones, Petersburg

Felix Myers, Sitka

What You Can Do

Testify Before the House Education Committee on Tuesday, March 21st at 5:15 pm 

  • Tomorrow the House Education Committee will be hearing public testimony for HB 65, INCREASE BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION. This is Representative Ortiz’s proposal to increase the Base Student Allocation by $1,250. I encourage testifiers to state their name, school association, and opinion in under thirty seconds, so as many people as possible can be heard as this is sure to be a very popular topic. You can call in or go to your local Legislative Information Office to testify. Please see the information below.

Testify on the Operating Budget this Week

  • Every year the House Finance Committee takes testimony on the operating budget. This is your chance to tell the committee members, and the legislature, what you want prioritized in the budget. You can go to your local legislative information office or call in to testify. Please see the information below.

File your PFD Application

  • The PFD offices will be open to the public on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM, except for state holidays. The PFD offices will be closed to the public on Thursdays.

Watch the Senate Floor Session on Monday, March 13, 2023 at 11:00 am 

Follow the Legislature and Comment

  • If there is a bill or resolution you want to follow, you can get an email update every time action is taken on the legislation with the Bill Tracking Management Facility.