The Year in Review: Rep. Adam Wool's Annual Newsletter E-Edition



Rep. Wool presents a legislative citation honoring the UAF Nanooks Hockey Team in September. 


Dear friends, neighbors, and fellow Fairbanksans,

It is hard to believe that another year is almost gone, and another legislative session is over. Finally, there is time to reflect. This year we had a long, strange session for sure. Hopefully we are done, with no more special sessions in the future.

This session the legislature passed a reasonable budget with some reasonable cuts. The Governor proceeded to  use his veto pen  and  cut  around  $400M  in addition to the $200M that the legislature cut. His biggest target was the University- this would have had devastating effects on Fairbanks. During a special session (in Juneau) we passed a new bill that would fund most of the items that he vetoed. The exception to that bill was the University, where we allowed for a $20M cut in addition to the $5M cut that we passed in our initial budget. Fortunately, the Governor did not veto this item and so the University ended up being cut a total of $25M. In my opinion, cutting $25M from the University is not a good thing, but this compromise is way better than the $135M cut that was threatened. Along with that cut of $25M, there was also a handshake deal between the Chair of the Board of Regents and the Governor to agree to another $45M in cuts to the University over the next two years, which is not good news. So, in the end, the University is facing steep cuts now and in the future. Keep  in mind that all these cuts are in addition to the approximately $50M in cuts the University has endured over the last 5 years. If we want a vibrant University that attracts great students and faculty that will be a pillar of our community for decades to come, we simply cannot keep cutting funding - we need to support and help our University thrive.

Other than the University, the Legislature was not able to reverse the following cuts from the Governor’s vetoes:

  • University of Alaska Deferred Maintenance ($2,500,000)
  • Public Broadcasting ($2,000,000 radio, $700,000 TV)
  • US Array Earthquake Monitoring Network ($2,500,000)
  • AHFC Cold Climate Housing ($750,000)
  • Statewide Addiction Treatment Facilities Capital Matching Grants ($10,000,000)
  • AHFC Energy Programs and Weatherization ($5,000,000)
  • AHFC Teacher, Health and Public Safety Professionals Housing ($1,750,000)
  • Public and Community Transportation State Match ($1,000,000)
  • AHFC Homeless Assistance Program ($3,600,000)

However, we were able to restore funding to the following:

  • State Arts Council
  • Senior Benefits Alaska Legal Services Medicaid (partial)
  • Overall about $300M of the Governor’s cuts remained after his 2nd round of vetoes

Where does this leave us now?
The biggest item on the budget is the PFD, which we set at an amount of $1600. This amount was a compromise with the Senate and is lower than the $3000 that the Governor requested. The difference between the two amounts totals $900M in the budget. The balanced budget that the House passed in May had a surplus that would have provided for a $1000 PFD and maintained full services.
Speaking of full state services, the Alaska Marine Highway System took a massive cut. Although we tried to restore $5M, it was vetoed by the Governor. Communities such as Cordova and Kodiak will go without ferry service for much of the winter. This will have a massive effect on the economy and quality of life for these coastal communities and we have yet to see how they will be fully affected.
Going forward, the Legislature must come up with a new formula for the PFD so we won’t get bogged down in the debate every year as to how much we should pay out in PFD checks. The statutory formula is outdated, and we simply cannot afford it anymore. The PFD amount should reflect how Alaska is doing economically and not  just  how  Wall  Street  is  doing.

When the program began, the dividend was around $300. The PFD check each year had a much smaller impact on the state and its residents. Now the formula calls for a $3000 check, which is a record high amount, and our state can’t afford this expense. It is better to preserve the program for our kids’ futures than to pay out huge checks and jeopardize the program by overdrawing the Permanent Fund. Right now our biggest revenue source is the POMV draw (5.25% of the total value of the Permanent Fund), eclipsing oil revenue by 50%. The PFD issue is so divisive and distracting that it takes all the time and energy that could be used elsewhere.


Rep. Wool with daughters Evelyn and Abby while they serve as guest pages on the House Floor in Juneau. 



The University: Looking Forward

The University is at a critical time right now and has to make some very important, timely decisions. They’re facing large cuts and very  possibly  more  to come. They were seriously considering consolidating to a single University system with multiple campuses instead of three separate universities. There were pros and cons to each direction but it seemed obvious that something needed to be done differently and needed to happen soon. However, on Monday, October 7th the Board of Regents voted to put off any decision about consolidation until 2021 when UAF’s accreditation is up for renewal. Now the system will have to absorb $50M in cuts and will not be able to make large cuts in administration, which consolidation would have allowed.The Board of Regents and the President have a tough job ahead of them; cutting $50M is no small task.

Hopefully this can be enacted without inflicting too much damage. Either  we  cut  $50M  and  try  to inflict as little damage as possible, or we roll up our sleeves and try to avoid the cut.


Staying in Touch During the Legislative Session

Thank you to all of the many thousands of Alaskans  who  are staying engaged  during  this historically important time in the state. I thank all who emailed, called, participated in public testimony, and visited me in person in Juneau. On that note, I’m concerned that our local public TV station, KUAC, is no longer showing coverage of the legislative session through Gavel to Gavel on 360 North. Many people in Fairbanks aren’t able to go to Juneau during the session. Internet streaming of the broadcast isn’t always a reliable option. Because  of  this,  Fairbanks  has  the highest saturation of broadcast viewership in the country. I feel it’s important that the population can monitor what’s happening in Juneau. For these reasons, I feel it’s imperative that public TV broadcast the session in Juneau. We’d be the only station in the state that doesn’t provide this public service.

You can also stay in touch during the interim by visiting us in person at 1292 Sadler Way, Suite 308, or by calling or emailing at 907-452-6084 or


Rep. Edgmon, Rep. Hopkins, Rep.Wool, Rep. LeBon and Rep.Thompson listening to constituents at a meeting at Pioneer Park in July


Sponsored by Rep. Wool: Adam's Legislation Update


Last session, I introduced a few pieces of legislation that I will continue to work on in the upcoming session. These bills are as follows:

HB 132: Permanent Fund Dividend Formula Change

The money to pay for government services comes from the state’s oil wealth, either directly or through investments derived from previous oil industry payments. The money to pay for Alaskan’s Permanent Fund Dividends comes entirely from investment earnings. A formula exists in statute to pay the PFD as a percentage of investment earnings, but this formula has not been followed each of the last three years, due to the state’s ongoing fiscal uncertainty. One of the issues with the current formula is that it obligates the state to pay potentially huge dividends, even if the fund itself loses money. Historically, the amount of the PFD has been largely inversely correlated with the broader economy – when oil revenue goes up, the PFD has gone down, and vice versa. My bill would change the formula and tie the dividend directly to oil and gas revenues – if the price of oil, volume of oil produced, or taxes paid to the state increased, so too would our annual checks. This would help to stabilize state revenue while ensuring that residents remained engaged on the details of oil prices production, and policy.

HB 123: Electric-Assisted Bicycles 
We’ve heard from a number of our constituents who enjoy their electricassisted bicycles, but aren’t clear about how and where they can be legally operated. The state of Alaska does not have any laws pertaining to electric-assisted bicycles, nor any related references to operating licenses, safety requirements, local traffic laws, or related definitions. A new definition is required to bring clarity for operators of these bicycles. My bill defines electric-assisted bicycles and regulates them as regular bicycles, with a provision for local municipalities to further regulate them as desired.

HB 102: Rental Vehicle Networks
The ways that Alaskans procure transportation services have changed over time. In the past, getting off a commercial flight and heading to the nearest rental car agency was common practice. Vehicle rental networks are rental car businesses that arrange or execute personal passenger vehicle rentals through a network of individual private vehicle owners, and are becoming a common alternative to traditional rental car options. HB 102 adds a definition for the new service of providing private vehicle rental programs, including these services into existing statutes that regulate car rental providers to reflect changes in how people secure transport in Alaska. It also extends the same laws and regulations which apply to rental car companies to private vehicle rental networks.

During the second special session, I was appointed to the House Finance Committee. I look forward to serving the Fairbanks community in this new role.


Rep. Wool tours the new LNG Storage Facility with fellow Senators and Representatives in October. 


Coming Soon: Real ID 

The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) would like to inform you of an important change coming in October of 2020. Under federal law, beginning October 1, 2020, you will not be able to board a commercial airline, enter a federal building, or gain access to a military base with your standard Alaska Drivers License or Identification Card. You will need a federally compliant ID, which includes a REAL ID, Passport, Military ID, and other options. A complete list of acceptable travel documents is available at: TSA Travel Information.  

For a complete list of acceptable documents, view our checklist here: REAL ID Checklist.  We encourage you to share this information with your friends and family and if you have more questions, please visit the DMV’s FAQ page at: REAL ID FAQs or contact the DMV directly at (907) 269-5551.


 Looking for a Unique Opportunity? Alaska Legislature Hiring Pages for Upcoming Session


The Alaska House of Representatives is looking for individuals who are interested and available to work as a Legislative Page for the upcoming legislative session. Legislative Pages are employed full time seasonal and serve for the length of the 2nd session of the 31st Legislature. The 2020 legislative session will begin Tuesday, January 21 and continue through April or May. The starting salary for a page position is $3,343 per month. All monthly paid employees receive full medical, retirement, and leave benefits. Salaried employees do not receive compensatory time or overtime and are on call seven days per week. This is a great seasonal job that provides you with an inside view of the workings of the Alaska Legislature. For more information, contact Micaela Bradner, Sergent at Arms, at


Rep. Wool is introduced alongside other Representatives at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in October. 


As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have and I will do my best to respond. Thank you! 

Best Wishes,