March 27, 2023


Dear Friends and Neighbors:


The Gold Medal Basketball Tournament last week was a welcome break from the Capitol and I enjoyed spending time with constituents watching some outstanding basketball. Congratulations to Hydaburg for playing with incredible heart against Southeast’s biggest city in the championship game – regardless of outcome, it was inspiring to watch all the teams play with such sportsmanship.

When I wasn’t at the games, my legislative work kept me busy. I continue to meet with constituents, public officials and stakeholders. The House Education Committee kept me especially busy last week with four committee meetings. We also considered legislation on the floor including an important fast track supplemental budget that will support improved access to Supplemental Nutritional Access Program (SNAP) benefits.

It has been great to meet and hear from so many constituents this session. Please continue to reach out! You can 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, 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 in House District 2!


In the House Fisheries Committee on Tuesday, March 21st, we heard a presentation from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Association on developing export markets for Alaska seafood. 

On Thursday, March 23, we heard HB 95, NATL. RES. WATER NOMINATION/DESIGNATION, a bill that would codify the legislative process as the way to designate an outstanding natural resource water. While it is a short and simple bill, this is a complicated issue that has been discussed for decades. I appreciate the legislative process, but I recognize that it is political. I would also like the entities nominating a waterbody, which so far have been tribes, to have an avenue to pursue designation through the Department of Environmental Conservation. On Tuesday, we will be taking public testimony and considering amendments on this bill.   

SNAP Benefits

As many of you have heard, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food benefits to low-income Alaskans, fell way behind processing applications several months ago. More than 92,000 Alaskans rely on SNAP benefits and this backlog resulted in some of the most vulnerable Alaskans going hungry for many months. This has recently prompted an unusually stern warning from the federal government.

To address the problem, the state has helped support Alaska food banks to address the immediate needs of Alaskans. The state is also working to address the backlog by hiring new staff, automatically renewing some SNAP applications, setting up an online application for SNAP and lengthening the recertification periods for SNAP recipients. While the state has made some progress, as of a couple of weeks ago there were still 9,000 Alaskans whose food stamp applications from this fall and winter have not been processed. It has been too slow for many families, but there is hope that in a couple of months the state will be caught up on processing back applications.

I am pleased that the supplemental budget that the House passed this week included $6.8 million to immediately address the SNAP backlog. In addition, when I met with Commissioner Hedberg of the Department of Health last week, I encouraged her to continue to work to resolve this crisis as quickly as possible.  


In the House Education Committee this week the committee heard arguments for HB 9, ADD FACULTY MEMBER UNIV BOARD OF REGENTS, which would add a University of Alaska faculty member to the University Board of Regents. The bill, as well as HB 69, RECLASSIFICATION OF FIRST CLASS CITIES, passed out of the committee. Also up on Monday was HB 10, UNIVERSITY: TEXTBOOKS/MATERIALS COST, which would require University of Alaska to list which classes offer low or no cost classroom material in order for students to better budget for their semesters. The bill was held for a hearing at a future date.

The big item considered by the education committee this week was HB 65, INCREASE BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION, by Representative Ortiz. On Tuesday, March 21st, the committee took five hours of public testimony on the bill and the next morning the committee voted to advance the legislation out of committee. An amendment in committee reduced the amount of the increase from $1250 to $800 over the next two years ($680 this year and $120 next year). While this is a disappointment, I am glad the bill moved from committee, and I am hopeful the House Finance Committee will increase the amount of the base student allocation funding. Alaskans have been clear: seven years of flat funding for schools in the face of steep inflation is harming our students.

On Friday, the House Education Committee considered the Governor’s Board of Regents appointees Dennis Michel, Bethany Marcum, Joey Crum, and Paula Harrison.

This Thursday, March 30, at 5:15 pm the committee will be hearing public testimony for HB 105, SEX/REPRODUCTION EDUCATION; SCHOOLS.  This bill is sponsored by Governor Dunleavy’s office. 

House Floor

This week the House passed four pieces of legislation:  





I expect to see more bills on the House Floor each week as the session progresses.


What You Can Do

Testify Before the House Education Committee on Thursday, March 30th at 5:15 pm 

  • You can testify from your local legislative information office or by calling 1-844-586-9085 (from outside Juneau and Anchorage), 586-9085 from a Juneau prefix and 563-9085 from an Anchorage prefix. When you call to testify you will speak with an operator and will need to ask to be transferred into the House Education Committee to testify on HB 105. We anticipate this meeting will run long but it’s an important topic and we would like to hear from as many Alaskans as possible.

File your PFD Application. The application period closes this Friday, March 31st at 11:59 pm!

  • 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.

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.