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May 4, 2019
Amazing 19-1 Vote in the Senate for the Budget
Alaska witnessed something amazing in the State Senate last Wednesday. Before the session started, I never imagined a scenario that would result in a 19-1 vote on the operating budget in the Senate, but that’s exactly what happened.
The 19-1 vote was amazing for several reasons. First, the State Senate followed the lead of the House of Representatives by rejecting the irresponsible budget proposal put forward by Governor Dunleavy.
Second, many of the Senators that voted for the operating budget bill on Wednesday served with Governor Dunleavy when he was in the Senate and supported him during last year’s election.
And third, a coalition of legislators ranging from the ultra-conservative Lora Reinbold to the ultra-liberal Tom Begich did something that was thought impossible when they passed a responsible budget that pays a full dividend and fully funds public education, while also cutting agency operations by $171 million.
The voting board for the passage of House Bill 39 through the Alaska State Senate on Wednesday, May 1, 2019
I ran for office on a platform of finding smart cuts, protecting public education, and paying a full dividend. I advocated for my House colleagues to concur with the changes to the budget made in the Senate. A full concurrence vote would have sent a strong message to Governor Dunleavy that we have a majority in the House and Senate ready and willing to override any line-item vetoes that will threaten our economy. That didn’t happen, which means budget negotiations will now get underway between the House and Senate leadership.
I Support the Development of an Arctic Port
On Monday, the House voted 39-1 in favor of a resolution sponsored by Rep. John Lincoln supporting the development of a deep draft port in the Arctic. I was the first co-sponsor for House Joint Resolution 14, and I spoke in favor on final passage because such a port is vital to respond to the increased vessel traffic in the region brought about by retreating sea ice. Russia and China know full well how important the Arctic is strategical. That’s why they are spending billions on infrastructure including ice-breakers and other ice-capable vessels.
The voting board for final passage of House Joint Resolution on Monday, April 29.
A deep draft port in western Alaska will help the U.S. keep pace with Russia and China. It also shows we are serious about increasing the U.S. presence in the Arctic. The Port of Nome is the obvious cost-effective choice for a deep draft port, and it was the alternative selected by the Corps of Engineers. Nome has daily jet service, a fiber optic communication system, a hospital, and other essential infrastructure. A deep draft port in the Nome area will be good for regional economic development and will help reduce the cost of living in the region.
House Joint Resolution 14 passed the House by a vote of 37-1 on Monday and will be heard in the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee Tuesday afternoon at 3:30. I am confident the Senate will also pass this resolution, which is an important display of support for an Arctic deep draft port in Nome.
Bob Lynn’s “Things I Learned in the Legislature”
I occasionally get asked about my favorite lawmakers. The late Rep. Max Gruenberg took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. I loved the man. The retired Rep. David Guttenberg was a rock that I leaned on more times than I can remember. The now-retired Rep. Bob Lynn had great wisdom and perspectives that often changed the direction of the legislature. He recently made a post on Facebook where he outlined the things he learned in the Alaska Legislature. Last week, I passed along Bob’s post to my colleagues with the hope that they might find something useful in the waning days of the legislative session. Here are a few examples of the wit and wisdom of Representative Lynn:
Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) giving a special-order speech on the House floor with legislative advice from retired State Representative Bob Lynn.
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