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.
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It’s time that we protect the PFD. The House is working on the FY 2019 budget. With the likelihood that for the first time in this state’s history state services will be financed through the earnings reserve of the Permanent Fund, it is time that we put our money where our mouth is and protect the Permanent Fund Dividend. That is why I have co-sponsored HJR 23 to amend the Alaska State Constitution to put the dividend into the Constitution. I do not believe that we should finance state government on the backs of the hardworking men and women in this state who rely upon the dividend to make ends meet.
Since Alaska’s fiscal crisis came to a head, the Legislature has cut over $3 billion from the state’s budget. While I believe we need a comprehensive fiscal plan, we also need to find ways to more responsibly manage the state’s finances. This includes a spending cap to put downward pressure on our operating budget. For this reason, I have introduced HB 369, which would impose a state spending cap. I also supported HB 215, which has now passed the House. This would allow the Department of Health and Social Services to collect fees for things they are required to do like certifying and inspecting X-Ray and MRI devises. This bill assures that those who utilize such department services pay for them.
The Military and Veterans Affairs and Judiciary Committees on which I serve are working on HB 307. This bill continues to update the Alaska Code of Military Justice to make sure that it is in line with the U.S. Code of Military Justice. Moreover, I am honored to support HJR 17, which encourages Congress to allow Hmong veterans the right to be buried in national cemeteries. These veterans fought to protect US servicemen during the Vietnam War and deserve the recognition that they are due. I hope to see you at Anchorage Caucus or the Constituent Meeting, but if you can’t make it, please know that I am always available over the phone or via email.
Please stay in touch.
We heard HJR 19 BASE F-35 AIRCRAFT AT EIELSON AFB from Rep. Isaacson which was passed from committee. I had previously signed on as co-sponsor of the bill and I proudly voted for it to pass from committee. I look forward to it passing on the house floor.
We also heard HB 212 DRIVER’S LICENSING EXEMPTION: MILITARY which was heard and held. This bill spurred alot of conversation and I am looking forward to learning more about this bill in our next committee meeting.
Military & Veterans Affairs Committee is scheduled to meet next on Tuesday, Feb 11th.