Representative Genevieve Mina

Alaska State Legislature House District 19 (East Anchorage) E-Newsletter

Proudly serving Airport Heights, Mountain View, and Russian Jack

March 8, 2024


Dear friends and neighbors,

 

As we await the Governor's response to the passage of SB 140 (the Legislature's education package), the House made progress on the Fiscal Year 25 (FY25) budget - and I successfully passed a small increase in the Department of Health and Social Services's finance subcommittee! My top priority bill, HB 196 to improve Alaska SNAP, has also moved out of House Health & Social Services, and we're seeing bipartisan momentum to get this bill onto the House Floor. Keep reading to learn more about our latest work in the legislature.


I'll be in town this weekend for the Anchorage Delegation Town Hall, which will be 2:00-4:00PM Saturday, March 9 at the University of Alaska-Anchorage Cuddy Hall. Bus lines 10, 20, and 25 can get you to Cuddy Hall; there will also be free parking. I'll see you there!

 Check out the Facebook event for more information!


P.S. Are you prepared to vote in the upcoming municipal election? Ballots will be mailed out next week and they must be returned by Tuesday, April 2nd. Learn more here.

Sincerely,


House District 19 Issues Survey


Whether it's education, the PFD, snow plowing, public assistance, or the economy, I want to know what you care about most.


Please complete this short 5-10 minute survey so that I can best serve you. You may choose to keep your responses anonymous, however there is an option to provide your contact information and/or indicate which neighborhood you live in at the end of the survey.

Complete the district survey!

Legislative Update


From the House Floor, I want to highlight a couple bills that are on their way to the Senate:

 

HB 89 (Child Care: Tax Credits/Assistance)

Representative Coulombe's bill increases access to childcare by raising the income limit to qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and adds a sliding-fee scale for families as their income rises. It also creates private sector incentives for corporations to provide child care benefits to employees, raising the tax credits from $1 million to $3 million. Proud to co-sponsor this bill!


HJR 20 (Nat'l Petroleum Reserve)

This resolution advocates withdrawal of the proposed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule affecting the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), and encourages meaningful engagement with Tribes. This was a difficult issue for me, but I voted in support of the resolution because it emphasized the need for BLM's public comment process to adapt to subsistence timelines in order to incorporate meaningful input from Tribes and Indigenous communities. Advocates on all sides of this issue have expressed similar concerns regarding the rigidity of BLM's public process.


I want to make clear that I am not opposed to the draft rule itself. I am concerned about increased toxics and pollutants in the Arctic, creating harms to public health and subsistence, and exacerbating our climate crisis. BLM's draft rule emphasizes the climate impacts of NPR-A resource development, and as we balance public input and economic benefits - we cannot lose sight of environmental and climate impacts because they are irreversible. You can watch my speech here.

SNAP in the News


My SNAP bill, HB 196, was passed out of House Health and Social Services Committee with unanimous support by the committee! As a reminder, this bill will allow the Department of Health to increase SNAP's income eligibility from 130% to 200% and eliminate the asset limit. Next stop - House Finance!


This bill comes as the Department of Public Assistance has just eliminated their backlog of 12,000! Our bill and its companion bill in the Senate has been featured in the news - check them out!


Alaska Senate Health and Social Services Committee considers bill for SNAP eligibility expansion (State of Reform)


SNAP Benefits Update As Eligibility Could Be Expanded in One State (Newsweek)


LISTEN: Alaska lawmaker says systemic changes to food stamps program will reduce backlog, save money (Alaska Public Media)


Bill would relax food stamp income eligibility requirements for Alaskans (Alaska's News Source)

Health and Social Services Committee


During the budget subcommittee closeout, I introduced three amendments to the Department of Health budget to support behavioral health, children with autism, and Senior and Disabilities Services (SDS) grants.


  • Increase funding to General Relief for Assisted Living Homes: Investing in the behavioral health continuum of care improves appropriate access to care, reduces rates of institutionalization, and lowers health care costs for all Alaskans. Most individuals at an assisted living home pay for services through Medicaid, but there are Alaskans with highly complex behavioral health conditions who can't qualify for Medicaid, and therefore rely on General Relief (GR) to pay for those services. However, there are few homes who will take Alaskans on GR because the rate is dramatically lower than Medicaid, resulting in vulnerable Alaskans who are either stuck in hospitals, institutions, or are left to the streets. My amendment takes the 7.9% rate increase of other Medicaid waivers from last summer, and applies it to GR.


  • Adjust Medicaid rates for autism services: In 2018, Alaska Medicaid improved health care for kids with autism by requiring coverage of medically necessary care through the Autism Services rate. However, between 2018-2023, behavioral health services have been adjusted upward for inflation by 12.76% - except for autism services. This amendment bring inflationary rate parity to autism services.


  • Maintain SDS Community Based Grants: Community based grants are the least costly for the SDS continuum of care. Compared to last year's budget, there is a $2.7 million difference in SDS grants. COVID-related money funds these grants and are expected to carry over, but we don't know how much money has been expended and will move to this year's budget.

 

Out of my three amendments, we were able to pass increased funding for GR - a difficult feat for legislators in the minority! I am grateful for the support from the other committee members on the bipartisan support for increased funding for services impacted by inflation. As this budget heads to House Finance, I will continue working towards a similar increase in Medicaid rates for autism services and ensuring continued funding for SDS grants.

Transportation Committee


We need to fix snow plowing. We need more road maintenance workers. But they aren't paid enough. The Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF)'s most critical job classes for road maintenance are equipment operators and mechanics working in Highways & Aviation. There is a 28.9% statewide vacancy rate for equipment operators and a 22% statewide vacancy rate for mechanics. In committee, DOT&PF spoke to implementing Mission Critical Incentive Pay to address vacancies at airports, and a 30% base wage increase made the biggest impact on recruitment.

 

Compared to contractors, these vital front line workers aren't paid enough. During subcommittee I introduced three amendments to talk about the wage disparity for DOT&PF's front line for all of department's regions: Northern Region, Central Region, and Southcoast Region.

 

These amendments would empower DOT&PF to increase wages for all Highways & Aviation workers by 30% for workers but failed. I know that wage increases involve union negotiations, salary studies. It's complex to increase wages via the budget process. But we must support these front line workers as wage negotiations continue.

Updated STIP

 

After the failure to receive federal approval for the 2024-2027 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), DOT&PF provided an update on their STIP last week. In order to secure approval and nearly a billion dollars in federal funding, DOT&PF must address concerns related to project alignment with Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), project requirements, specifying funding sources, amendment procedures, and federal environmental requirements. You can watch that meeting here:

 

Earlier this week, DOT&PF updated and resubmitted the 2024-2027 STIP for FHWA review and approval. The federal government must approve the STIP by the end of March. Here is a link to the documents on their STIP page: https://publicinput.com/stip/

Read the updated 2024-2027 STIP

SEIU 775


Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at SEIU 775’s reception in Juneau. As a child, I grew up in assisted living homes and I know how hard caregivers work to care for our elders. Caregivers deserve better. While we’ve made progress in Medicaid reimbursement in recent years, we have much work to do in order to properly appreciate and compensate this tireless group of professionals.

Supporting New Alaskans

Working with our Congressional Delegation on Supporting Ukrainians

Last Monday, U.S. Congresswoman Mary Peltola spoke to both the House and the Senate during a joint session. During the Q&A, I inquired about our Ukrainian neighbors. The vast majority of Ukrainian refugees that have relocated to Alaska during the conflict came on humanitarian parolee status - a status that may expire this April. As we’ve seen with our Afghan neighbors, uncertainty of humanitarian parolee status creates mental stress for employment, housing, safety, and on children. You can watch my speech here.

Humanitarian Parolee Status Update!


Days after I asked Congresswoman Peltola about the status of humanitarian parole, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that eligible Ukrainian can now apply for re-parole!


Beginning February 27th, Ukrainian citizens and immediate family members who were displaced on or after February 11th can apply for a new period of parole for up to 2 years. These Ukrainians, as well as any New Alaskan who has an intent to stay in Alaska and meets PFD requirements are now eligible for the PFD.


Eligible Ukrainians can submit their Form I-131 online or by mail. Once approved, eligible folks will have to re-apply for employment authorization by submitting an I-765.

Refugee Resettlement Lunch & Learn


On Monday, we facilitated a Lunch & Learn with Catholic Social Services - Refugee Assistance & Immigration Services (CSS - RAIS) with Alaska State Refugee Coordinator Issa Spatrisano!


Here in Juneau, Issa Spatrisano helped educate legislators and staff alike on the resettlement process, demographic shifts in Alaskan refugees, and workforce development efforts made by CSS - RAIS. You can watch Building Belonging: Welcoming Our Newest Neighbors Through Refugee Resettlement Across Alaska on Gavel.


The Alaska Beacon even wrote an article on the presentation, highlighting Catholic Social Service's work with Ukrainian refugees!

Community Council Meetings


Airport Heights Community Council

Hybrid meeting every third Thursday at 7:00PM.

7:00PM Thursday, March 21st

Airport Heights Elementary School Library (1510 Alder Dr, Anchorage, AK 99508)

Click here for Zoom (Passcode: 499153)

Click here for more information


Mountain View Community Council

Hybrid meeting every fourth Wednesday at 6:00PM.

6:00PM Wednesday, March 27th

Mountain View Library (120 Bragaw St, Anchorage, AK 99508)

Click here for Zoom (Passcode: 955872)

Click here for more information


Russian Jack Community Council

Hybrid meeting every second Wednesday at 6:30PM.

6:30PM Wednesday, March 13th

Zion Lutheran Church (2100 Boniface Parkway, Anchorage, Alaska 99504)

Click here for Zoom

Click here for more information

Community Events and Resources


US Citizenship Naturalization 101 Session

6:00-7:15PM Monday, March 11th

Attend a Q&A Session with staff from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Anchorage Field Office. Free of charge. Sponsored by the Polynesian Association of Alaska.


Representative Andrew Gray's Mobile Home Zoom Town Hall

5:30 - 6:15 pm Thursday, March 14th on Zoom

Rep. Andrew Gray is hosting a virtual town call for mobile homeowners to know their rights - from creating co-ops and to rent raise limits.


2024 Micro-Grants for Food Security

Deadline is 5:00 pm on Friday, March 15th

This is a reminder that applications are now open for an agricultural grant through the Alaska Division of Agriculture’s 2024 Micro-Grants for Food Security Program through March 15 to increase the quantity and quality of locally grown products. $2.2 million is available for distribution through the micro-grant program with priority given to applicants in rural communities who face significant food insecurity problem.


The Anchorage Park Foundation is pleased to offer two new grant opportunities. The Community Challenge Grant provides funding for projects that improve Anchorage parks, trails, greenbelts, and recreation centers. The Neighborhood Forest Grant provides funding for projects that restore, reforest, and sustain urban forest on public or private land - projects must benefit underserved areas in north Anchorage. The deadline for both grants is March 20, 2024.


Apply to be on Municipal Boards and Commissions!

Rolling deadline

The Municipality of Anchorage relies on engaged residents and volunteers to serve on local boards & commissions. There are an unusually large amount of vacancies right now, so plenty of options and opportunities for you to serve our community!


AAPI Anchorage Mayoral Candidates Forum

4-5:30PM Saturday, March 16, 2024

Northwood Elementary School - Multipurpose Room, 4807 Northwood Drive

Learn how the candidates would address issues facing Anchorage's Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Sponsored and hosted by Asian Alaskan Cultural Center.

Representative Genevieve Mina

House District 19


rep.genevieve.mina@akleg.gov

(907) 465-3424



Session: Alaska State Capitol, Room 420,

Juneau, Alaska 99801


Interim: Anchorage Legislative Office, Room 218,

1500 Benson Blvd, Anchorage, Alaska 99503

Katy Giorgio

Legislative Aide

katy.giorgio@akleg.gov

(907) 465-4926

Remington Purnell

Legislative Aide

remington.purnell@akleg.gov

(907) 465-4926


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