Efforts to reduce crime; East Anchorage Town Hall picnic

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this newsletter finds you well and enjoying the beginnings of a hopefully long and sunny summer. I have been enjoying talking with folks as I see them in the neighborhood and at community events, and hearing their issues, concerns and ideas. Please know that I am always available to listen to you and work with you to find solutions to any problems you may have.

One topic I have heard a lot about is crime, which has affected all of us. For that reason I voted to repeal SB91 in 2017, and although that effort ultimately failed, the legislature has since taken steps to fix the worst parts of that legislation. House Bill 312, which I supported, took aim at some of these bad parts of SB91 and made the following major changes:

  • Ends mandatory release (“catch-and-release”) requirements and gives judges more power to hold offenders awaiting trial;
  • Allows out-of-state criminal records to be considered when setting release conditions; and
  • Streamlines the process to criminalize new and dangerous “designer” drugs.

Beyond HB312, there was legislation and funding that will make our streets, neighborhoods and businesses safer. I was happy to support these changes, some of which include:

  • Increased funding for more Troopers and prosecutors in next year’s budget;
  • Increased penalties for theft and class C felonies (including vehicle theft) in SB54; and
  • Prioritized restitution payments to victims using PFDs withheld from criminals in HB216.

There is more to be done to reduce crime, but I am glad that the legislature took some steps to protect Alaskans. I was also pleased to see 30 more APD officers being sworn in, as we know that Anchorage does not have the number of police officers it needs.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions relating to crime in our neighborhood or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me.

An upcoming opportunity for you to tell me what matters to you and your family is the East Anchorage Town Hall picnic. It takes place next Tuesday, June 26th, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Lidia Selkregg Chalet (1600 Lidia Selkregg Ln). I hope to see you there; we’re buying the pizza!

It is an honor to represent you.


Neighborhood Events

Dear Friends and Neighbors,                                           

I hope this email finds you well. As summer blooms upon us, I wanted to share some fun and exciting events that are happening in the neighborhood in the upcoming weeks.

The annual Spirit of Muldoon picnic happens this Saturday, June 16th. It runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chanshtnu Muldoon Park (1301 Muldoon Road). There will be food, prizes, games and much more. It is always a fun event for people of all ages. And this year we will also be celebrating the grand opening of the park! The ribbon cutting for that is at 1 p.m.

Next Saturday, June 23rd, is the first Muldoon Farmers Market of the year. Open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., our neighborhood farmers market has something for everyone: local fruits, veggies, meat and seafood, along with handmade arts and crafts, live music, prepared foods and much more. The Muldoon Farmers Market also takes place at the Chanshtnu Muldoon Park. It runs through September 29th.

These two events add so much to our neighborhood and our community and I thank the many people who work so hard to make them happen.

Finally, on Tuesday, June 26th, Senator Bill Wielechowski, Representative Ivy Spohnholz and I are hosting an East Anchorage Town Hall picnic at the Lidia Selkregg Chalet (1600 Lidia Selkregg Lane) from 5:30-7 p.m. It is a great chance to let us know what matters most to you, your family and your business. We hope to see you there! Oh, and we’ll buy the pizza!

Again, I hope that summer is treating you well. Please contact me if I can be of help or service to you in any way.

It is a great pleasure and honor to represent you and our Muldoon and JBER neighbors.


Adjournment of the 2018 legislative session

Shortly after 2 a.m. on Sunday, May 13th, the 30th Alaska Legislature adjourned. While I was not thrilled about everything that happened these past two years, I was glad to see us finish before the 120-day deadline with a fully-funded operating budget.

Some highlights of the session:

  • The legislature approved a $1,600 Permanent Fund dividend (PFD) which is approximately $500 higher than the amount originally proposed by the Senate and the governor;
  • However, I voted against the operating budget because there were still cuts that could have been made and because the $1,600 dividend, while better than the last two years, was not a full statutory PFD;
  • I fully supported the changes that were made in HB312 to end “catch and release” of criminals. This was an important step to making our neighbors and neighborhood safer;
  • We passed a capital budget that will create jobs for Alaskans, maintain our infrastructure, improve education for our kids (a $20 million boost for schools and $3 million in pre-K grants) and help address the opioid epidemic ($12 million for treatment);
  • We funded education early this year, preventing layoff notices, and forward-funded education again for next year;
  • I was proud to honor our veterans for their service and sacrifice to our country by supporting legislation allowing private employers to grant an employment preference for veterans, requesting the U.S. Congress grant burial rights at Arlington National Cemetery to Hmong veterans and allowing Hmong and Lao veterans a veteran’s designation on their driver’s licenses and ID cards;
  • The legislature also approved bills that will protect the public by requiring drivers to secure their loads (an issue that was brought to my attention by Kelly Roy, a constituent) and reduce health care costs by requiring health providers to disclose cost estimates for their most common procedures, protecting independent pharmacists from the predatory tactics of pharmacy benefit managers which prohibited them from telling customers of less expensive alternatives, creating a more responsive and nimble State Medical Board and allowing physicians to delegate certain duties;
  • Many good bills passed that will reduce government regulation on food donated to food banks, make government work better by allowing hunters and fishermen to show a digital copy of their hunting or fishing licenses and protect workers by assuring businesses do not incorrectly classify employees as independent contractors (an effort led by constituent Bronson Frye) and encouraging new businesses related to local foods and food tourism;
  • We also provided help to those among us needing it most by extending state payments to lower-income seniors and limiting the workload of foster care workers; and
  • I was also very pleased to support a “good government” bill that strengthens conflict of interest laws for legislators and ends per diem if the legislature hasn’t passed an operating budget by day 120.

Sometimes enacting more laws does not necessarily translate to better lives, but the bills listed above, along with some others, will do good things for our state and Alaskans.

Another thing that was encouraging about the end of session: representatives and senators worked in a cooperative and bipartisan fashion to improves the lives of Alaskans. Not everyone will be happy about everything, but I believe that is how compromise should work.

If you have any questions about the budget or any pieces of legislation, please contact me using the information below. Also, I and my staff are here to serve you: please contact us if there is anything we can help you with.

I am looking forward to returning home and seeing friendly faces in the neighborhood. It is an honor to represent you.


March-April Legislative Update

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The House has passed the operating budget on to the Senate. I am hoping that the Senate works quickly so that the Legislature can conclude session within 90 days.

Throughout our discussions on  Alaska’s financial future, we’ve continued to hear a similar message from Alaskans around the state: Don’t mess with the PFD. The PFD is so important to Alaskan families, workers, and businesses, and I proudly co-sponsored the budget amendment that would have paid out the full dividend. Later there was a motion to rescind the amendment, and I voted against that motion. When the operating budget came up for a final vote, I voted against the budget because it did not have a full PFD. Also, while I do not believe we can solve our fiscal dilemma through cuts alone, there are still cuts that can and should be made. Instead of making cuts, this budget actually increased Governor Walker’s proposed budget.

I recently attended the Joint Armed Services Committee hearing, where we received updates on military activities in Alaska. Colonel Cory Mendenhall reiterated the strategic importance of Alaska in our ever-changing world. The Department of Defense spends $1.5 billion in Alaska each year. Moreover, 20% of Alaskans have personal ties to the military. I’m grateful for all that the military does to enhance the security and economy of Alaska.

As always, I am eager to hear from you. Please be in touch over the phone or via e-mail, and if you happen to come to Juneau, please stop by the Capitol.


January Legislative Updates

I’m back in Juneau and feeling cautiously optimistic about the 2018 session. Finance subcommittees have started to meet, and after several special sessions that seemed never to end, my colleagues and I are anxious to pass a fully-funded budget as quickly as we can.

The Governor introduced his priorities in the recent State of the State address. Creating safer communities in Alaska is a shared priority for us all. With the recent massive earthquake that struck in the Gulf of Alaska, we see how funding for state troopers, police, public safety and emergency preparedness is critical across the state. We can no longer afford to chop funding for these services— in many cases, our lives are on the line. Speaking of public safety, the courts are using a new assessment tool that helps determine if someone accused of a crime should be put out on bail. As this new bail policy rolls out, I want to hear from you to see if you think it’s impacting public safety in the district.

Legislative Council is reviewing the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy. To serve as an assurance that the Legislature takes sexual harassment seriously, I’ve sponsored HB 276 to modernize the Legislature’s currently out-of-date policy. I’m also a co-sponsor on HB 216. Now, the PFDs of inmates are spent on their health care instead of paying restitution to the victims of their crimes. This bill places crime victims first.

As always, please contact me over the phone, online, or in person with your questions and concerns. I look forward to seeing you back in the neighborhood soon.