House Bill 116 Signed Into Law
For two years, our office worked with the fine members of the Public Safety Employees Association on a bill honoring our veterans who chose a career of protecting the public. This week, all that hard work really paid off. House Bill 116, which passed the House and Senate unanimously with most members becoming co-sponsors, was signed into law by Governor Parnell. The bill applies to public safety employees who are members of Alaska’s defined benefit program and who served in the United States military. Those public safety workers who wish to retire up to five years earlier with medical coverage can now purchase that time. Because the employee is bearing the full cost, there is no further liability to the state.
This was a prime example working together on an outcome that was best for Alaska. Protecting the public on the street or on the fire ladder is a young person’s career. The older one becomes, the more likely they are to be injured on the job. By purchasing their time, these women and men can leave state service, having already served their country, with a dignified full retirement. Realizing the state’s unfunded liability is a serious issue, the employees association were willing to ensure Alaska’s fiscal outlook improve by offering this cost saving measure. Nearly a week after Independence Day, it was moving that we could in some small way say thank you to those who dedicate their lives to our country, our state, and our communities.
KTBY did a fantastic job covering the signing ceremony. Please click on the link to see the story by Gretchen Parsons. http://www.youralaskalink.com/news/Bill-Rewards-Retired-Military-Personal-and-Public-Safety-Employees-266707331.html
Open House for Viburnum-Oakwood-Burlwood Roads Project
Construction is beginning on Viburnum, Oakwood and Burlwood at last. This Monday, the project team will be hosting an open house to answer questions about how the process will go, what is the timeline for completion, and to be available for anything you wish to know. The open house will be at the Independent Baptist Church of Anchorage, located at 1801 East 68th Avenue, from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm. For more information, please contact Anne Brooks, the Public Involvement Coordinator for the project, at 272-1877. You can also reach Ms. Brooks by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
admin @ July 11, 2014
Open House for East 88th Road Project Announced
Next week, the Alaska Department of Transportation will be hosting an open house to give an update for the East 88th Avenue Project. The plan is to have construction begin on the road this summer, and will upgrade the curbs, drainage and install sidewalks from Spruce Brook Street to Elmore Road. The plan to start construction is for July 21st, and expects to be done by October 15th.
The open house will be held on July 9th, from 6:30pm-8:00pm at Abbot Loop Elementary School. The school’s address is 8427 Lake Otis Parkway. For questions about this open house or about the road project, please contact Kevin Hendrickson, the project engineer with DOT at 770-5677 or via email at email@example.com Mike Lindeen, the project manager with Renegade Equipment, can also be reached at 346-2300 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.orgKatherine Wood, the public involvement lead with HDR can be reached at 644-2153 or at Katherine.email@example.com
4th of July Weekend: Safety First
This Friday is the 4th of July weekend. With it come great opportunities for barbeque, spending time with friends and loved ones, as well as hopefully enjoying great Alaskan summer weather. Some amazing events include breakfast on the Park Strip, which will start at 8:00am, followed by a parade later in the day. There always is the classic 4th of July baseball double header between the Bucs and Glacier Pilots, followed by a spectacular fireworks show.
But with all the activities planned, exercising some safety is crucial to having a fantastic holiday. With the sunshine and lack of rain always comes the chance of fire. And with grilling season hitting full swing right about now, being fire-wise is critical to protecting our homes and communities. Below is a link about being safe when using fires to cook or enjoy your celebrations. Special note: fireworks are not allowed in the Municipality of Anchorage. Please enjoy your weekend!
Bear Aware: Black bear sow and cubs sighted near East 64th
Yesterday, some of our neighbors on East 64th received some visitors. A black bear sow and her two cubs, which were in the news earlier last month for nabbing kids’ lunches by Alaska Pacific University, were seen on East 64th Avenue. Our district is in the lower hillside, which is right up against some fabulous woodlands and trails. The hillside is also a conduit for bears, especially with Campbell Creek nearby. As long as we exercise caution, we can avoid a problem both for ourselves and bears. Below is a link to the Department of Fish and Game’s page detailing steps we can take to be more bear aware:
admin @ July 1, 2014
Thank you to everyone who came to this past Tuesday’s constituent picnic at Abbott Loop Community Park which was co-hosted with Representative Bob Lynn, Senator Kevin Meyer and our office. The turnout was amazing, and the weather could not be beat. Ribs, hot dogs, burgers and potato salad really sealed a fantastic summer evening with friends and neighbors. We were fortunate to have Alaska Police Department Officers, an Alaska State Trooper, Firefighters from Station 12, and an expert on bear awareness from the Department of Fish and Game attend and be available for questions from the public. The Municipality of Anchorage’s public works department was even present to discuss upcoming projects in the district.
The families of Jordyn Durr and Brooke McPheters also came to share in a ceremony honoring their daughters’ lives. Brooke and Jordyn passed away last year in a crash involving an impaired driver. Chaplain Diane Peterson of the Anchorage Fire Department, who was the first responder at the accident site, presented Jordyn’s and Brooke’s families with citations honoring the achievements these young ladies accomplished during their all too young lives. The ceremony was a reminder to care for our loved ones, to always use caution on the roads, and to do everything possible to prevent such losses in our community from ever occurring again.
With the 4th of July weekend next weekend, let us all hope for good weather, and the opportunity to gather together and safely celebrate our national holiday.
admin @ June 27, 2014
Executive Summary of 2013 Arctic Energy Conference Released
Last year thousands of participants from Arctic nations around the world gathered in Iceland to collaborate on issues affecting all countries in this important region. Some of the key questions that continue to be pursued after the conference include how to have sustainable, affordable energy to communities in the Arctic, the development of Arctic infrastructure, and developing strategies that respond to potential spills and disasters on the seas and coastlines.
The executive summary of the conference was just released. It does an excellent job of illustrating the unique challenges that come with transmitting power to isolated areas, the lack of economies of scale, and the need for innovative solutions. What is perhaps the most important takeaway is that, even though Arctic nations have similar climates, and often similar indigenous cultures, the solutions to these challenges are not one size fits all answers. What works for Iceland and Norway may not be optimal for the U.S. and Alaska specifically. However, we certainly can learn much from those individual processes, and glean valuable information so we are not duplicating our efforts.
The executive summary link is below. If you wish to learn more about Alaska’s role as the United States’ Arctic representation, contact us at Rep.Charisse.Millett@akleg.gov
Father’s Day Baseball Supporting Special Olympics
This Sunday is Father’s Day, and the Anchorage Bucs and Special Olympics Alaska have a wonderful event planned. For Sunday’s game against the Mat-Su Miners, fathers who go to the game with their kids pay no admission fees. Children to the age of 6 can get in for free as well, and children to the age of 12 pay half-priced admission. Admission is 5 dollars for bleacher seating and 7 dollars for box seats. Active and retired military members with identification are also honored.
In addition to a large part of the game’s proceeds going to Special Olympics Alaska, the Bucs will also be hosting auction and raffle items that go to supporting our local Special Olympians. Items include signed baseballs and bats from former Bucs who are now playing in Major League Baseball, as well as Bucs paraphernalia. The Bucs and Special Olympics have been doing this for several years and it has been a great success. With good weather, hot dogs and baseball, it is hard to find a more quintessential summer activity with the family.
The game will be held at Mulcahy Stadium at 2:00pm this Sunday. If you would like to learn more about this wonderful event, please contact the Anchorage Bucs office at 561-2827.
admin @ June 13, 2014
HB 211 Signed Into Law
Governor Parnell yesterday signed House Bill 211, which makes Alaska an Employment First State. This means every state service that interacts with an individual with a disability has a primary objective of finding gainful employment for them. Though such a policy is currently in place for many departments and agencies, Employment First will lead to synchronizing services across departments, and more importantly, makes it the law of the land that every person has value and a right to work. This was a priority for the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, as well as the Key Coalition. Advocates and their families worked incredibly hard on this bill over the last year, and it was so rewarding to see their diligence and patience pay off. If the results are in Alaska anything like they have been in the twenty-five other states that have implemented Employment First, we are in for a win-win-win. Those states have seen their public assistance costs go down as more individuals with disabilities entered the workforce with good, long-term jobs. Individuals with disabilities who are employed are proven to live healthier, longer and better lives. They accumulate assets and enjoy a higher standard of living. Employers are impressed with the quality of the workforce. All the while, these women and men are eradicating the stereotype that, because they have a challenge, they are not employable. Our deepest thanks to all who participated in this process. We look forward to letting you know about the progress on the state’s Employment First anniversary next year when the Mental Health Trust Authority will begin receiving reports on how departments are reaching these goals.
Open House for O’Malley Road Project
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities will be having an open house on the O’Malley Road Project on Tuesday, June 10th, from 4-7pm at the Alaska Zoo’s Gateway Hall. This portion of the O’Malley Road Project will deal with Phase II, which is between Livingston Street and Hillside Drive. If you have any questions about the project, please contact Anne Brooks, the Public Involvement Coordinator, at 272-1877.
admin @ May 30, 2014
District 24 Updates:
School’s Out for Summer
With the Memorial Day Weekend upon us the Anchorage School District has ended its school year as of yesterday. Our thanks go out to all the teachers, support services and administrators who continue to make our communities stronger by educating our children. Now that school is out, kids will be hopefully taking advantage of this gorgeous weather to get out into the parks, trails, sidewalks, and even school grounds to play. Please drive with caution since there will be many younger pedestrians and riders out during what were school hours. Let’s all remind our kids, and ourselves, of the basic safety principles of walking or biking near road traffic: stop, look, and listen. Exercising attention and caution on all parts ensures a great, safe summer.
BP Teachers of Excellence in District 24 Honored
Last year, BP honored two teachers in District 24 schools with its annual Teachers of Excellence designation. Ten teachers are so honored. From the 2013 class of BP Teachers of Excellence, we have Linda Graham of Trailside Elementary and Ellen Frohlich of Abbott Loop Elementary representing our district. Congratulations to you both Ellen and Linda!
BP has also announced its 2014 Teachers of Excellence. This year, Service High has bragging rights with Adam Ahonen being one of those honored. Adam is a life skills teacher and has been a Cougar for ten years now. He is most often seen at events he volunteers for, such as the Special Olympics. Congratulations Mr. A! You’re awesome.
Summer Road Construction Update
Spring and summer is construction season, and District 24 will have its share of it. Below are some of the projects you may expect to see around the neighborhood, with all the detour signs as well:
*Viburnum, Oakwood and Burlwood are being completely rebuilt starting June 1st.
*Lake Otis will be resurfaced any day now. That resurfacing will include the Lake Otis portions from Dowling to East 68th.
*East 88th Avenue from Elmore to Spruce Brook will be reconstructed this summer to have drainage installed as well as sidewalks. The Alaska Department of Transportation anticipates construction to begin in early June and end around Halloween.
If you have any questions about road projects occurring in your neighborhood, please contact Kathering Wood, Public Involvement Lead for HDR at 644-2153 or Katherine.Wood@hdrinc.com
admin @ May 23, 2014
Earlier this year, I developed back problems that required surgery. After returning from the legislative session, the wonderful doctors and medical staff at Alaska Native Medical Center successfully fixed those back issues. I will be walking a little slower during the recovery process over the next few weeks. But the pain is gone and the doctors expect a full recovery. Thanks to all of you who shared your thoughts, prayers and well wishes with our family and office. With this inspiring spring weather, I look forward to seeing you out on the trails, parks and sidewalks of our neighborhood.
Special Olympics Opens New Center
We Alaskans have a great history with supporting the Special Olympics; Anchorage hosted the World Winter Games in 2001. But this month marked a new, monumental step for the thousands of athletes in our state who experience disabilities. The new sports, health and wellness- center was inaugurated in a ribbon cutting ceremony last week. This 28,000 square foot facility compares to nearly nothing else in the world; only four other Special Olympics programs have such a facility anywhere on the globe.
While the primary focus of the building will be to have athletes fit and their skills honed for competition, the spirit and mission of Special Olympics will be so much more to both the participants and coaches. Special Olympics was founded as a means of overcoming the outdated stigma of having a disability. And while we have made great strides in promoting awareness, there are many issues which affect a person with a disability disproportionately that need to be addressed. Issues such as dealing with bullies in school, promoting healthy lifestyles to live longer and better, and advocating for inclusion are all part of that mission.
It really is a wonderful building that will promote healthy, vibrant communities for Alaska. To see the new Special Olympics sports, fitness and wellness-center, drive over to 3200 Mountain View Drive. You can also call to set up an opportunity for a tour at 222-7625.
District 24 Schools News:
Congratulations to our Graduates!
Graduation ceremonies for the Anchorage School were this week. Another year of Cougars leaving for college, work or other opportunities is a bittersweet time for students and family. Our sincerest congratulations go to all those who worked so hard to earn their diploma. We wish you the very best in the next stage of your life.
Bike to Work Day
There are tons of great opportunities to work and play in Anchorage. With all this amazing weather, we are seeing more and more cyclists on the sidewalks and in our back country trails. It is also a good way to be in shape for the 10th annual Bike to Work Day on June 4th.
As always, the use of trails, roads and sidewalks requires cooperation with other users and proper trail etiquette, as well as basic safety concepts. You can arrange to have a clinic, class or presentation by the League of American Bicyclists Instructors. If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 343-4715.
District 24 Sports Update
The Alaska Track and Field Championships are coming up at Dimond High School, May 23rd and 24th. Come support your Cougars as they vie for the top honors in some of the classic events in sports.
The Alaska Soccer State Championships will be held in two weeks at both Eagle River High School and the Anchorage Football Stadium. Our lady Cougars had a decisive 6-1 win over East earlier this week, and the boys thumped West 6-2 yesterday. Let’s keep up the momentum and see a Cougar team in the ladies’ and boys’ finals. To see the schedule and venue setup, please click on the link below:
admin @ May 16, 2014
As an Inupiaq speaker, it was emotional and moving to see Alaska recognize the languages of its first peoples as official languages of the state. My grandmother was banned from speaking the tongue of her people. This resulted in generations of Alaska Natives suffering from an identity crisis. What has been amazing is the language revitalization programs occurring throughout the state, stemming the tide of dying languages. On Sunday, Senate overwhelmingly supported House Bill 216, which honors the twenty indigenous languages of Alaska. This is a start but an important one: aside from Hawaii, Alaska is now the only other state in the country to show such respect for its heritage. My sincerest thanks go to Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins of Sitka for introducing the bill, and the entire Bush Caucus of the House for co-sponsoring the legislation.
House Joint Resolution 15 was unanimously passed in both the House and the Senate and signed by Governor Parnell in March. What HJR 15 does is calls upon the United States Congress to pass legislation making the federal government financially responsible for the cleanup of the more than 650 contaminated states located on lands conveyed to Alaska Natives and their corporations. These sites vary from military installations to Bureau of Indian Affairs Schoolhouses to radar sites. The contaminants on these lands include petroleum, arsenic, mercury, benzene, PCBs and others. The costs to remediate these areas could very easily bankrupt the many small village corporations who now own these lands.
It is only fair that these lands, which were conveyed through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) for the purpose of rectifying societal injustices inflicted upon Alaska Natives, be not an environmental and economic hazard. Our resolution is supported by Alaska’s Congressional delegation. As the travesty wells campaign in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska has proven, resolutions matter, and can affect change. We hope to have positive progress on this over the course of 2014.
House Bill 88 was a cleanup bill that affirms the dignity of individuals with disabilities. All references to the “r” word were removed from our laws and were replaced with “intellectual/developmental disabilities.” This is what is called people first language. One of our caucus’ guiding principles is healthy communities, and we want people who live with a disability to not suffer outdated derogatory remarks. But to expect that of our community, our laws need to be a reflection of that respect. The Governor signed House Bill 88 into law last May.
House Bill 186 changed the definition of a peace officer to “an employee” rather than “a full-time employee.” This inadvertent loophole allowed municipalities and towns to employee individuals for positions as police on a part-time basis, thus being able to get around background check requirements. This resulted in communities hiring police officers with domestic abuse convictions and other disqualifying marks. What HB 186 did was close that loophole and require all police to be certified by the Alaska Police Standards Council. It reduces liabilities to communities, but more importantly better serves the public with higher quality, qualified women and men protecting them. HB 186 passed the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Parnell last year.
House Bill 211 makes Alaska an “Employment First” state. Employment First is the synchronization of all state resources that interact with an individual with disabilities and shapes them around the primary objective and preferred outcome to get that individual gainfully employed. It is a holistic approach that has been implemented in 25 other states. Individuals with disabilities who are gainfully employed lead healthier lives and are financially the better for building assets. Health and public assistance costs to the states have also trended down. This is the epitome of a win-win. The bill has passed both the House and the Senate unanimously and is waiting for the Governor’s signature.
House Bill 210 gives Alaska a statewide policy on restraint and seclusion in schools. This legislation built on the work of local school districts in Anchorage, the Mat-Su, Fairbanks North Star, Juneau and Kenai Peninsula school districts. Alaska was one of less than fifteen states without such a statewide policy, which resulted in a patchwork of provisions from one school district to the other. The main provisions of the bill include requiring parents and legal guardians to be notified the same day their child was secluded or restrained. It also set the condition that a student could be restrained or secluded only if they posed an imminent harm to themselves or others.
School staff involved would need to be trained except in emergency situations, and the districts would need to annually report the total instances of restraint and seclusion to the Department of Education and Early Development. The Department would also be required to approve of training programs in de-escalation and positive behavior affirmation, which is critical to reducing the need to restrain or seclude a student.
House Bill 210 passed both the House and Senate unanimously and is waiting for the Governor’s signature.
House Bill 116 is a way to honor veterans who have served as police officers or firefighters in Alaska. For those who are members of the state’s now closed defined benefit system, there is now a way for public safety veterans to retire earlier. The bill made a provision available to these women and men to assess the costs of purchasing up to five years of medical time, and to purchase that time. This results in the older members of the police and fire forces retiring at a point in their lives when injuries on the job are much more severe. The state has lower operational and healthcare costs, while these veteran public safety employees can have a dignified retirement. House Bill 116 passed both the House and the Senate unanimously and is waiting for the Governor’s signature.
admin @ April 25, 2014
The Alaska Senate today unanimously passed House Bill 211, which would make Alaska an Employment First State. Hearing after hearing gave riveting testimony from members of our communities who have a disability and proved, if given the chance, they can thrive in the workplace. States are having great results with lowering their public assistance and health costs while those individuals with disabilities can build assets and raise their standard of living. It was an incredible experience working with the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education on this bill. In particular, working with people like Ric Nelson, who has cerebral palsy but refused to be defined by his challenge was so inspiring. Ric is graduating with his Masters’ degree from UAA and getting ready to open his own business.
House Bill 211 now goes back to the House for concurrence, and then to the Governor’s office to be signed into law. To learn more about Employment First Legislation, please contact our office at 465-3879 or Representative.Charisse.Millett@akleg.gov
District 24 News
Service Boys Basketball Win State Crown
Third time’s a charm for our Cougars boys’ varsity basketball team. After making it to the championship match for the last two years, Reece Robinson, Ihro Raguindin and crew took the Alaska state title in stunning fashion over West High this past weekend at the Sullivan Arena. Nashon From sent a pass to Brad Wacker, who made the layup with seven seconds left. The Cougars’ defense held the Eagles to win with a score of 49-47, capping an exceptional 2014 playoffs. Congratulations to the team, coaches, parents and the rest of Cougar nation. For the next year, the lower Hillside of Anchorage has bragging rights on the court.
admin @ March 28, 2014
Bills Up for Hearings Next Week
We’ve got a busy week coming up. With the end of the session weeks away, every office is trying their very best to get their legislation through both bodies before the clock runs out. Next Monday, the House Finance Committee will hear House Bill 210. This bill would put statewide definitions and rules of restraint and seclusion of children in school. It would also adopt the policies and procedures school districts such as Anchorage, the Mat-Su, Kenai and others have in place to protect students.
House Bill 211 will be heard next Tuesday in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. We have over the course of this session written about Employment First. Getting individuals with disabilities employed in an integrated workplace is essential to lowering health costs, bettering the quality of life for those individuals and fostering healthy communities. The Labor and Commerce Committee is the last committee of referral.
House Bill 362 will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday. This bill builds on the initiative of Anchorage in combating the sale and distribution of Spice in our communities. Since manufacturers of these dangerous drugs easily changed the chemical composition to skirt the laws, House Bill 362 will go after the packaging of the product, and prohibit the false advertising sellers employ. Spice and its other components are harmful to our community. With Senator Meyer and his Senate bill 173, we are trying to contend with a modern, nimble drug market that law enforcement to which law enforcement is constantly playing catch up.
We are also working hard to have House Bill 116 brought into law. Peace officers and firefighters who were under the old pension system could purchase up to five years of their benefits in order to retire early. Unfortunately that purchase did not include medical benefits. What House Bill 116 does is allow that peace officer or firefighter who is under that old pension system to purchase up to five years of medical time as well. This could lead to an earlier retirement for the brave women and men who work in a young person’s career, reduce the medical costs associated with treating those injuries, and bring young first responders into the ranks. The bill is currently in the House Labor and Commerce Committee.
District 24 News
Service High Basketball
The Cougar boys have begun their state championship hopes with gusto when they eliminated West Valley yesterday 54-45. Tonight, Service will play in the semi-finals against cross-town rivals East at 8:45pm in the Sullivan Arena. Bring your Green and Gold!
Service Cougar wins Player of the Year Award in Basketball
Big congratulations to Reece Robinson, who is the Alaska 4A Basketball Player of the year. Reece also was named to the 4A First Team Roster. Congratulations are also in order for Ihro Raguindin, who was named to the 4A Second Team. With talent like this on the floor, Service has a great shot at the state title.
admin @ March 21, 2014