May 15, 2023


Dear Friends and Neighbors:

The legislative session is scheduled to end Wednesday by midnight, which means all kinds of bills are crossing the floor. Below is a rundown of the many bills that were passed in the House last week.

As a reminder, when a bill is introduced, it is assigned to committees for review in the body in which it was introduced (House or Senate). It’s typical for a bill to go through at least two committees, and if it has a fiscal impact, it will also go through the Finance Committee before landing in the Rules Committee. All bills end at the Rules Committee where they may or may not be scheduled by the Rules Chair to be heard by the full body. The bills then must go through the same process in the other body. It is only after they pass both the House and Senate, and are signed by the Governor, that they become law. 

As we head for the end of this session all bills not passed by Wednesday at midnight will be set aside until the second session of the 33rd Legislature, which begins in January, 2024. I have two bills that will be caught in this limbo space, HB 163, FAFSA RAFFLE and HB 201, RESIDENCY REQ: HUNTING, TRAPPING AND FISHING. During the interim, I plan to work with stakeholders on these bills. I welcome your feedback on either or both pieces of legislation. When the 2nd session of the 33rd legislature begins in January, I will be working hard to get the bills passed.     

When we adjourn my office will send out a special edition of the Southeast Swell outlining what the legislature accomplished this session. After that you can expect a Swell monthly and an in-person visit to your community sometime this summer.

Please continue to reach out! You can email me at or call my office at (907) 465-3732, with general questions, suggestions or concerns. 

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 addition, if you are a new subscriber to the newsletter, you can read past editions on my page of the House Coalition website.

Salmon People, In the Sky!


Last Friday Juneau was graced with the inaugural touch-down of Alaska Airlines’ newly painted jet. Northwest Coast formline art designed by Alaska Native artist Crystal Kaakeeya Worl covers the entire surface of the plane. The artwork, and the plane itself, is entitled X̱áat Kwáani which means Salmon People in the Tlingit language. 


As the aircraft approached and landed and Crystal and entourage disembarked, the welcome ceremony began. Due to Floor Session on Friday I could not leave the Capitol to attend the event so my legislative aide Ann Dombkowski became the lucky one to be there. Ann reported back that every word, every song, every dance, every display of regalia was a moving tribute to the importance and reverence of salmon. 


A beautiful video of Crystal gave us a preview of her passion and determination to initiate and see this massive project to completion. Salmon have sustained Alaskans for thousands of years. Salmon represents manna from heaven. Thank you, Crystal and Alaska Airlines, for respecting and recognizing this life-giving tradition!

Ann Dombkowski, Crystal Worl and Miranda Worl

Wild Fish Conservancy Lawsuit Update

As you have likely heard, in response to Judge Jones’ May 2nd decision to close the winter and summer Chinook salmon seasons, the State of Alaska and the Alaska Trollers Association have filed notice that they intend to appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition, the State of Alaska and the Alaska Trollers Association asked for a stay of a federal court order forcing the closure of the Chinook fisheries pending an appeal. Alaska is asking for a decision on the stay by May 26th. While the National Marine Fisheries Service has not given any indication whether or not they will appeal the decision, they did issue a statement assuring fishermen that the incidental take statement is in place for other salmon fisheries to occur.  

A visit from the Sitka High School Lady Wolves Softball Team in the House Chambers this week provided much needed wind in my sails.

Getting a moment with one of their coaches, my new boss at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary, Mindy Barry, was a special treat.

Bills that Passed the House Last Week



This week I introduced HB 201, RESIDENCY REQ: HUNTING, TRAPPING AND FISHING in response to concerns brought forward by Prince of Wales residents. This bill would bring the requirements to get a resident hunting, trapping and sport fishing license in line with what is required for someone to get a Permanent Fund Dividend. The goal with this legislation is to make the residency requirements for a hunting, trapping and sportfishing license slightly more stringent and more easily enforceable. I am looking forward to getting input on this legislation and modifying it as needed. Please do not hesitate to call or email with your feedback on the bill.  



On Thursday, May 11 the Senate passed SB 52, EDU INFO; INCREASE BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION by a vote of 16 Y to 3 N. This bill increases the Base Student Allocation (BSA) by $680. This is the largest increase in the BSA in state history and many senators gave some excellent explanations why this increase is needed. I encourage you watch the Senate Floor session where this bill was debated. As I have said before, an increase to the BSA is one of my top priorities and I am proud of what the Senate did. The bill has been referred to the House Finance committee where a companion version has been heard. It would be great if the House Finance Committee would pass the bill out and we could vote on it on the House floor before the end of session. If this is something you would like to see, please contact the House majority members.




I was excited that the legislature was able to pass SB 119, STATE IDENTIFICATION CARD FOR PRISONERS last week. While this makes a small change in state law, it is an important change and should be celebrated. Our prisoners need to have identification cards so that they have access to the most basic services when they are released. 

SB 119 is also a good example of how the legislative process works. The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Senator Myers on March 31st. It was referred to the Senate State Affairs committee and passed out of the committee on May 3rd. It passed the Senate on May 10th and was referred to the House State Affairs committee. 


Representative Gray had introduced a companion version of the bill back in early February and it had a hearing in the State Affairs Committee on March 16th. This meant that the Chair of the committee was comfortable holding a single hearing on the Senate version of the bill. The bill did not have a fiscal note because the ID cards can be made at no additional cost to the state, so SB 119 did not get referred to the Finance Committees.


The bill passed the House unanimously on May 13th and it now goes to the Governor for his signature. 


Final Days of Session


As you may have heard, the House and Senate have not yet come to an agreement on the operating and capital budgets. The Senate Finance committee has been in possession of both the capital and operating budgets for some time now. This week they combined the budgets, and on Saturday, May 13, passed the omnibus budget from committee. It should be noted that this is not the typical process but has happened a couple of times in the past.


Normally, the House passes the operating budget, the Senate amends the budget and passes it back to the House. The House then does not concur with the changes the Senate made to the budget. The differences between the House and Senate version are then worked out in a conference committee made up of three members from each body. Typically, there is a similar process for the capital budget, except it usually originates in the Senate.  


Not only is the budget process unusual this year, but the challenge of setting the size of the PFD remains problematic. The House version of the budget uses 50% of the percent of market value (POMV) revenues from the permanent fund for the dividend, equivalent to about $2,700.  The Senate is calling for 25% of the POMV revenue to be used for the PFD. This is equivalent to a PFD of about $1,300. While a higher PFD is welcome, I can only support a dividend we can afford.


The Senate budget is balanced, while the House budget requires about a $600 million draw from savings. Not only are our savings very limited, but to draw from savings takes a three-quarters vote in both the House and Senate. The Senate has said they do not want to draw from savings and the House majority does not have enough votes to make this draw from savings.


Given the differences in the PFD amount in the budgets and the difficulty of drawing from savings, it is unclear whether both bodies can come to an agreement by the end of session. This is frustrating for all Alaskans. The last thing we want is a special session and the threat of a government shutdown.      

What You Can Do

  • Watch for the next Southeast Swell and please also keep an eye out for me this summer. I plan to visit each community in my district during the interim. I will be announcing my plans prior to each trip.