Alaska Reads Act Passes Legislature
Dear Neighbors,

Last week, the Alaska Legislature had a final day that will go down in legislative history. Both the House and Senate finished up work right around midnight and, despite predictions to the contrary, a lot was accomplished this session. The state budget got passed on time with a large PFD and energy rebate included. The Legislature also passed several important pieces of legislation, including an early education and reading policy bill I worked on called the “Alaska Reads Act.”

While there was a flurry of bills passed on the final day of the session, none will be more impactful than the Alaska Reads Act. I'm proud of the work my staff and I did to pass this important piece of legislation that will help generations of Alaskan children learn to read. I sponsored the House version of the Alaska Reads Act and was gratified to see several improvements from the House version of the bill added to the Senate version that passed the Senate twice by unanimous votes. 

My thanks go out to everyone who helped pass the Alaska Reads Act, but I want to especially thank my friend from across the political aisle, Rep. Mike Cronk from Tok. Rep. Cronk spent 25 years as a classroom teacher, and he saw the importance of passing the Alaska Reads Act. I think it was Rep. Cronk’s advocacy that convinced several key lawmakers to support the bill in the end. House Bill 114 passed the Alaska House by the slimmest of margins (21-19), and will soon become law.

Below are some of the details of the Alaska Reads Act. I’m here for you. I welcome your input and ideas. Call my office at (907) 465-2095 or send me an email to Rep.Chris.Tuck@akleg.gov.

Warm regards,
The Alaska Reads Act Will Help Children Read
The big picture goal of the Alaska Reads Act is to help students read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.

  • The Alaska Reads Act aligns with the number 1 strategic goal of the Alaska Board of Education. 
  • Strategic goal #1 is to “support all students to read at grade level by the end of the 3rd grade.”
  • The Alaska Reads Act will empower parents, teachers, and students to increase reading proficiency. 
  • DHSS will be required to establish a statewide reading program for students in grades K-3. 
  • As part of the program, help will be available for school districts to offer individual reading intervention services to struggling readers. 
  • 6 reading specialists will work with teachers to help with reading instruction.
  • The Alaska Reads Act allows the use of “individual reading improvement plans” and “intensive reading intervention services.”
The Alaska Reads Act Increases School Funding
The Alaska Reads Act includes a $30 dollar increase to the base student allocation (BSA).
 
  • A BSA increase helps every child and young adult who receives a public education in Alaska. 
  • The BSA has not increased since FY 2017.
  • The current BSA is $5,930. 
  • In FY 23, the BSA will increase to $5,960.
  • $7.8 million increase in education funding every year. 
  • The BSA increase will apply to pre-K through grade 12 students. 

Passing the Alaska Reads Act frees up $57 million in one-time education funding for public education in Alaska.

  • This is because the State Senate tied the $57 million in one-time funding to the Alaska Reads Act passing the Legislature.
The Alaska Reads Act Expands Access to Pre-K
The Alaska Reads Act establishes a grant program for districts to develop a high-quality pre-K program for 4-year-olds. 

  • If a district already has an existing pre-K program that meets the standards set out by the State Board of Education, the school district may request approval from DEED. 
  • Approved pre-K programs are eligible for inclusion in the Average Daily Membership (ADM) counts and receive consistent, predictable funding as part of the Base Student Allocation. 
  • DEED must approve pre-K grant programs for inclusion in the ADM.  
  • Those applying for a pre-K program must document that they consulted and collaborated with any local and tribal Head Start programs.
  • For districts without a pre-K program or if the district needs additional help getting their program approved, they may participate in a 3-year grant program. Participation is voluntary.

Under the framework approved by the bill, state spending on pre-K programs will increase from $3 million a year to $18 million a year by FY 28.

  • Currently, 35 school districts offer some form of pre-K in Alaska. 
Burn Ban in Anchorage - Beware of Fire Danger
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning that is in effect today until 10 p.m.

  • Expect hot, dry, and windy conditions today for the Anchorage Areas.
  • Rapid ignition, growth, and spread of fires will be possible.

On May 24, the Anchorage Assembly passed an emergency ordinance to stiffen the penalty for violating the current burn ban in place within the Municipality of Anchorage.

  • Violations of the burn ban will be a class A misdemeanor crime rather than a civil penalty.
  • Class A misdemeanors have a maximum penalty of up to 1-year in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. 
  • The emergency ordinance is in place for 60 days. 

The Anchorage area is under a burn ban that prohibits open burning.

  • Commercially produced charcoal, propane, and pellet-fired barbecues are exempt from the burn ban but extreme caution should be used when operating. 
  • The burn ban will be in effect until further notice. 
  • Residents are asked to use extreme caution when working with or around any potential ignition sources. 
Safe Boating During the Memorial Day Weekend
The week leading up to Memorial Day weekend is the National Safe Boating Week.

  • Safe boating is especially important in Alaska’s challenging environment and on Alaska’s treacherous waters. 
  • The U.S. Coast Guard has some simple safety tips to keep you safe on the water.

Wear a life jacket:

  • Boaters are required to have one Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person aboard their vessel. 
  • Persons under 13 years old are required by law to wear a life jacket at all times.

Wear an engine cut off switch link:

  • A new law went into effect last year, requiring recreational boats to use an engine cut-off switch (ECOS) and associated ECOS link (ECOSL). 
  • An ECOS is an emergency ignition cut-off device that shuts down the engine if the operator is ejected from the vessel or falls overboard. 
  • This law applies to any boats less than 26 feet in length that generate more than 115 pounds of static thrust (approximately 3 horsepower) and were built beginning in January 2020. 
  • It also requires operators to use the ECOSL while navigating on plane or above displacement speed.

Boat sober:

  • Drinking alcohol is the greatest contributing factor in recreational boating facilities. 
  • Abstain from operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

Check the weather:

  • Be sure to look at the immediate weather forecast as well as the extended forecast; weather can change in Alaska in a matter of hours.  
  • The National Weather Service offers local and statewide current and extended marine weather forecasts on their website, which are broadcast on VHF marine-band radios.

Take multiple forms of communication devices:

  • VHF-FM radio is the primary communications network for the maritime boating community. 
  • Enabling the Digital Selective Calling features on your VHF-FM marine radio can broadcast your location and information to every boat within range in an emergency. 
  • Also, consider a personal emergency beacon, and ensure it is registered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
ADF&G Has an App for Your Phone
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has unveiled a new mobile app to help better inform hunters and anglers.

  • Visit the Apple Store or Google Play to download the free app to your device now.
  • Once you have downloaded the mobile app to your device, you will have to create an account to log-in.
  • If you have an existing myADFG or myAlaska account, you can log-in using your username and password.

The ADF&G App allows users to purchase and display hunting and fishing licenses.

  • All licenses, permits, and big game locking-tag records are valid to carry and display to enforcement in the field on your mobile device.
  • The mobile app provides all current hunting and sport fishing regulations (including personal use) for the entire state.
  • The mobile app provides you the ability to record hunting and fishing harvest in the field and to report personal use fishing harvest.