In this issue:
  • House Ways and Means Committee
  • COVID-19 emergency bill passes
  • Anchorage Elections: Mayoral Runoff
  • Sexual Assault Awareness Month
  • Build Back Better and American Jobs Plan
  • ACA Deadline Extension
  • Events and Reminders
House Ways and Means Committee
Rep. Spohnholz delivering a video update on the House Ways and Means Committee and the impacts of Alaska's budget instability on April 10th, 2021. Watch the full video here.
As the State House anticipates passing the FY22 Operating Budget this weekend, the House Ways and Means Committee continues to work on long-term solutions to Alaska's $2 billion structural budget deficit. I have been filming regular Ways and Means Committee updates, an you can watch my video above highlighting job loss due to fiscal uncertainty.

Earlier this month we passed two bills out of committee to strengthen the sustainability of the Permanent Fund. Overspending what we have left of the Permanent Fund hurts our ability to fund state services and PFDs in the future.

  • House Joint Resolution 1 (Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins): Constitutionalizes the Percent of Market Value (POMV) draw established in 2018 to prevent overspending from the Earnings Reserve Account (ERA). The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC) supports protecting the POMV because it provides fiscal certainty needed to grow the fund for future Alaskans.
  • House Bill 165 (Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins): Protects the principal of the Permanent Fund by transferring $4.35 billion from the Permanent Fund's ERA into the Permanent Fund's principal where it cannot be spent. This is critical because funds in the ERA can be spent with a simple majority vote. HB 165 leaves sufficient funds in the ERA for PFDs and essential government services.

Next week, the committee is scheduled to hear HB 189, our committee bill creating a modest payroll tax for public education:
  • House Bill 189 (House Ways & Means): Funds public education through an Education Tax from all workers. The levy starts at $50 for an individual earning less than $20,000 per year and crests at $500 for someone making more than $500,000 a year. This tax would generate an estimated $60 million each year to pay for public education which is mandated by the Alaska Constitution.
Public testimony will be heard on Tuesday, May 4 at 5:30 pm.

Alaska Legislature passes COVID-19 emergency bill
On Thursday evening, the House voted to approve the changes to HB 76 made by the Senate to extend the COVID-19 emergency disaster. The House passed the bill on March 26th. While it took the Senate quite a while to pass the bill, it's retroactive to when the Governor's last emergency disaster declaration expired on February 15th. However, as of this afternoon Governor Dunleavy ended the disaster declaration.

Alaskans should feel confident that HB 76 does not force business closures, mandate masks or vaccines. What does HB 76 do?
  1. Allows, but doesn't mandate, the Governor to require airport testing of all nonresidents coming to Alaska. This is important because 21% of Alaska's workforce are nonresidents and 2.2 million visitors came to Alaska in 2019. In 2020, airport testing found 2,500 cases.
  2. Gives the business community regulatory certainty, including the health care sector - Alaska's largest employer with over 55,000 workers.
  3. Allows us to have regulatory flexibility for telehealth and licensing through September and to get $8 million federal SNAP benefits per month to meet the 40% increase in hunger seen by Food Banks.
  4. Limits the Governor's ability to accept and spend federal money without legislative approval, and the Governor's ability to force vaccination if against one's religious beliefs.
  5. Creates the option for a public health disaster as an alternative to extending the disaster declaration.

The extension was supported by the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, Alaska Hospital & Nursing Home Association, Alaska Miners Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Resource Development Council, and so many crucial private and public leaders.

HB 76 is a measured compromise that will make Alaska safer and create economic security for the business community.
Anchorage Elections: Mayoral Runoff
Thank you to everyone who voted in the recent Municipality of Anchorage election! The Anchorage Assembly certified the election results on April 20, 2021. No mayoral candidate reached the 45% threshold so there will be a runoff election Tuesday, May 11.

  • Congratulations to new Anchorage School Board members Dora Wilson and Carl Jacobs who won their elections outright. Candidates Kelly Lessens and Pat Higgins have maintained their leads in recounts, and we are awaiting official certification by the Anchorage Assembly soon.

  • Congratulation also to Assembly Chair Felix Rivera who beat a recall effort in midtown Assembly District 4.

  • Propositions 1 and 8 failed to fund 6.9 million in bonds for various capital projects and a $3.9 million bond for new Anchorage police fleet vehicles and other improvements.

  • All other bonds passed, including a property tax levy to pay for body cameras and other technology improvements for the Anchorage Police Department, as well as capital improvements for roads, parks, and other facilities.

Please remember to vote again in the Mayoral Runoff. The two candidates are Assembly Member Forrest Dunbar and David Bronson.

Ballots have already been mailed out. If you did not receive your ballot, please call the Voter Hotline at 907-243-VOTE (8683). If you would like your runoff ballot package mailed to a temporary address (like me) and you did not check the box to mail a Mayoral runoff election, you can fill out an Application to Vote at a Temporary Address or call the Voter Hotline for assistance.

Once you have filled out your ballot, you can return it using a first-class stamp or by dropping it off at a secure drop box. Here are some key drop box locations in House District 16 and around Anchorage:
  • Anchorage School District Education Center – 5530 East Northern Lights Boulevard
  • Bartlett High School1101 Golden Bear Drive
  • Begich Middle School – 7440 Creekside Center Drive
  • City Hall – 632 West 6th Avenue, Parking Lot
  • Election Center – 619 East Ship Creek Avenue
  • Loussac Library – 3600 Denali Street
  • Planning and Development Center (MOA Permit Center) - 4700 Elmore Road
  • UAA Alaska Airlines Center – 3550 Providence Drive

There will also be Vote Centers available at the Loussac Library and City Hall for those who would like to vote in-person and receive further voting assistance. The Municipal Clerk's office has released a notice with more information on this upcoming election.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
In April we recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). This is particularly significant in Alaska as our state has the highest rate of sexual assault in the U.S., almost four times the national average. Most individuals impacted are women and children, and in most cases the victims somehow know the offender. In many cases, the best place for individuals to get help is through domestic violence shelters and outreach groups.

However, this year federal funding for Alaska's domestic violence and women's shelters will be decreased by 34.6% from last year. The impact is that shelters or programs around the state will be drastically reduced or eliminated. Recently, the House Finance Committee restored $2 million to fund this gap in FY22. I am committed to ensuring that these funds are maintained as the Alaska House works through the FY22 Operating Budget over the coming days.

On behalf of the House Women's Caucus, Rep. Sara Rasmussen and I sent a letter urging the Alaska congressional delegation to work on direct funding to Alaska's CDVSA. I urge others to do the same.

Call or email our congressional delegation:
Senator Lisa Murkowski: (202) 224-6665
Senator Dan Sullivan: (202) 224-3004
Congressman Don Young: (202) 225-5765
Build Back Better and American Jobs Plan
Alaska has been in dire need of significant infrastructure improvements, from the Port of Alaska and the Marine Highway, to broadband access in rural areas and expanding renewable energy. The Biden administration’s $2.3 trillion Build Back Better infrastructure bill, now called the Jobs Act, can mean great things for Alaska.

The Jobs Act may bring a massive infusion of capital for states that are proactively preparing for a new economic reality and advocating for the changes needed to realize it. Alaskans should be working hard to position ourselves to ensure we get our fair share of those funds and projects.

You can read my full opinion piece published in the Anchorage Daily News here. If you agree that Alaska should take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to build Alaska’s infrastructure, encourage our federal delegation to ensure Alaska gets our fair share of it.

Call or email our congressional delegation:
Senator Lisa Murkowski: (202) 224-6665
Senator Dan Sullivan: (202) 224-3004
Congressman Don Young: (202) 225-5765
Affordable Care Act Deadline Extension
With the recent COVID-19 changes to the Affordable Care Act individual market coverage, 4 out of 5 individuals pay a monthly premium of $10 or less.
COVID-19 has affected everyone during the past year. Unfortunately, millions of people don’t have health insurance or have lost it during the pandemic. In response to the pandemic, there is a special enrollment period available on, the federal insurance marketplace. Anyone can sign up for health coverage.

Here are five things to know:
  1. You have until August 15, 2021 to sign up. This is a new emergency enrollment period. There are affordable plans available.
  2. Financial assistance is available for many people to lower their monthly cost for insurance. Most who enroll find plans for $50 per month or less after financial assistance.
  3. No qualifying event is required. This special enrollment period doesn't require you to have a qualifying life event like the birth of a child or getting married. Anyone can sign up for coverage or make changes to their current marketplace plans.
  4. Your coverage will start the first of the month after you enroll in a plan. For example, if you enroll anytime in March, your coverage will start on April 1.
  5. Getting help to enroll is easy. Staff are available to help you enroll in a plan that is right for you. Assistance is available in many languages.

To enroll, you can go to, call 800-318-2596 to reach a 24/7 call center, or 211 for local help via the United Way. Use this application check list to help with enrollment.
Events and Reminders
Community Councils
The next meeting is Wednesday, May 5 via Zoom. This will be the last community council meeting until September. You can find the link to the meeting and details here.
Meets 7:00 PM on the 1st Wednesday of each month. There are no scheduled meetings during the summer (June, July, and August).

The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 PM Wednesday, May 12 at the Zion Lutheran Church and Zoom.
Meets 6:30 PM on the 2nd Wednesday of each month (except July and August) at Zion Lutheran Church, 2100 Boniface Pkwy (CLICK HERE for a link to a map) and Zoom (link posted the week of the meeting).

The next meeting is scheduled for 7:00 PM Thursday, May 20 via Zoom.
Meets 7:00 PM on the 3rd Thursday of each month via Zoom until further notice.

Find your community council here.
Conference of Young Alaskans

The next generation of Alaskans are our leaders today. If you know a young leader age 16-25, encourage them to apply to the Alaska Municipal League 2021 Conference of Young Alaskans in Fairbanks from August 1-4. There is no cost to the delegates to participate in
COYA to ensure the opportunity for diverse, inclusive participation that is representative of our state.

Full application and information is here and the deadline to apply is May 10.
I'm Here for You
Feel free to give me a call or send me a message anytime, I would be happy to hear from you.
Phone Number: (907) 465-4940
Stay in Touch and Stay Engaged
(202) 224-6665

(202) 224-3004

(202) 225-5765

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Anchorage Daily News
(907) 257-4200