Muldoon Memo - 3/17

Make Your Voice Heard!

HB 65 - Next Tuesday March 21st at 5:15pm, the House Education Committee is taking public testimony about the Base Student Allocation, the foundational number for school funding in Alaska. So call 907-563-9085 on Tuesday evening to express yourself on this critical issue. At our Anchorage Delegation town hall earlier this month we heard loud and clear that folks want the BSA increased; that they want decent schools to send their kids too. I hope that a similar message is delivered to the Committee on Tuesday.

I was happy to hear from so many folks at our Anchorage Delegation Town Hall the other week but was glad to have time to visit with folks individually as well.

Committee Rundown

The Resources Committee this week moved the Governor’s carbon storage bill, House Bill 50. As the bill stands now, the Governor’s carbon bill serves as yet another giveaway of Alaska’s resources.

The bill that the governor introduced would have had the state collect $2.50/ton of carbon injected on state lands and $20/acre/year for state lands leased for carbon storage. That pencils out to roughly a 4% revenue share for the state when you factor in the federal tax credits that subsidize this activity. By contrast Alaska gets 12.5% of all oil extracted on state lands as a royalty, to say nothing of production taxes.

It got worse though—the Resource Committee’s new version strips out those minimum revenue terms and leaves it entirely up to DNR to figure out later in regulation. To be clear, this bill amounts to a giveaway to the oil companies, at least in the short term, because their operations on the north slope are just about the only significant sources of emissions that are located near the required drilling and injection infrastructure. This bill just provides them a framework to pull down newly enhanced federal tax credits.

I offered an amendment that would have ensured that Alaskans got something for these carbon storage leases—4% of gross revenue from carbon credit sales—but the majority voted in lock step to reject it. I offered another amendment to clarify that companies shouldn’t be able to write off their development expenses for carbon dioxide injection against their oil production taxes. That amendment was rejected as well.

There will be plenty more chances to fix it, and I’d be supportive of the bill if Alaskans got their fair share, but as is, this is a bad deal for Alaskans.

We also moved quickly through HB 49, the governor’s proposal to use state lands for forestry projects to generate carbon credits. Although this bill, the “trees bill” as it’s called, is less complicated than its counterpart, its revenue prospects are no clearer. Like HB 50, this bill punts all the revenue questions to later, this time to the terms of individual leases, as opposed to regulation, where the public has even less input.

This bill is being pitched—along with HB 50—as a financial savior of Alaska. The governor’s budget claimed $300 million in revenue this fiscal year from these proposals. However, the governor’s representatives and members of the majority seem more focused on “maintaining flexibility” for DNR and “ensuring project viability” rather than making sure that Alaskans are made better off. This bill moved from Resources with unanimous support from the majority, but less than unanimous understanding.

Finance Subcommittees wrapped up this past week. These subcommittees review the budget requests of each executive department and vote on each of the governor’s changes to the prior year’s budget. I sat on the budget subcommittees for the Departments of Corrections, Public Safety, and Natural Resources.

In the Natural Resources Finance Subcommittee last week, I offered an amendment to add nearly $350,000 to the budget for Chugach State Park, taking those funds from proceeds of the vehicle rental tax. The park, which has long brought in more revenue than it spends, has seen use increase dramatically in recent years. Increased use means increased needs for things like facilities maintenance (bathrooms and trash cans) and trail upkeep, and inflation has meant higher fuel costs. My amendment would have addressed all of these issues. Unfortunately my amendment was rejected and the bill was reported out to the full Finance Committee without that funding.

That wasn’t surprising given that I’m in the minority on the subcommittee, so I’m working with members of the majority to get this funding inserted into the budget in the full finance committee, or, failing that, on the Floor in the coming weeks.

Capitol Beat

The governor this week introduced a bill that would force trans kids to use the wrong bathroom in school and make sex education an opt-in class.

Although this bill will not become law, the mere discourse around this bill provides a permission structure to people who would do harm to trans people. It says to any kid exploring their identity, ‘you’re not welcome here’. What a cruel, awful message to send to a child.

Roughly 40% of trans kids will attempt suicide before they reach adulthood. The best way to reduce that risk is to provide folks an environment where they’re accepted for who they are. Wielding the power of the state to target specifically those most vulnerable kids is bullying in the highest by the Governor—it’s just wrong.

Alaska does best when its government focuses on the substantive problems making life harder for Alaskans. This proposal is Alaska at its worst—indulging lower-48 culture war politics at the expense of kids who are just trying to get by.

Not only does the governor’s bill set us backwards, it also distracts from the areas in which our schools actually need our help.

Last week the Governor introduced an odious bill targeting trans kids in school. I rose on the floor the next morning to speak in opposition. You can watch my remarks here.

Things of Note

  • The number and extent of people experiencing hunger is very high, and community partners that distribute food are strained. If you can, please consider a food or monetary donation to organizations that support food distribution to those that need it.

  • For the first time since COVID started, Medicaid is going to start removing people from the rolls again starting April 1. If you are on Medicaid, call 800-478-7778 and update your address and contact information so you aren’t removed by mistake.

  • Anchorage Municipal Elections are coming up on April 4. I received my ballot at my temporary address in Juneau, so hopefully you have received yours as well. There’s more information, including location of drop boxes, at the Municipality of Anchorage Elections page.

  • Apply for the PFD via this link. Please reach out to our office if you run into any issues.

  • District 21 Community Council Meetings:

Stay Connected
You can find me at community council meetings and I’ll have more regular Coffee Chats after session ends. You can always in touch with my office--by email at or by phone at 465-3438--and if you’re in Juneau please come find me in room 112 of the Capitol. If you’re on social media, please follow my
official Facebook page.

If you'd like to follow the legislature more closely on your own, I encourage you to go to and dive in. A tutorial for operating the legislature's website is available here. Feel free to call my office if you can’t find what you’re looking for.