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Update for June 7, 2017

Juneau Update for May 22, 2017

Update for May 15, 2017

Update for May 8, 2017

Update for June 7, 2017

Posted in: Announcements, Budget, Fiscal Plan, General, Hanshew Middle School, Service High School | Comments (0)

Hello from Juneau on the 21st day of Special Session. Apologies for the gap between our updates, but as you may have read or heard in the news, there has not been very much movement here in the Capitol. This has honestly been a very frustrating time, and tensions are certainly very high. However, I do remain hopeful that compromise can be found and that we can avoid a government shutdown.

Constituent Coffee: Thank You!

Thank you so much to the 35 people who were able to make it to my constituent coffee over Memorial Day Weekend! It was so wonderful to sit down and talk with friends and neighbors about some of the issues we’re faced with here in Juneau. I enjoyed hearing updates from our community on what’s been happening in Anchorage this spring. It was additionally helpful to witness firsthand the construction work along on Brayton and surrounding areas. I heard from many of you that the signage and directions offered by the Department of Transportation’s team has been helpful. Please keep me posted if improvements still need to be made.

If you weren’t able to make it, I hope you’ll stay in touch about ideas and concerns you might have. My office is here for you!

Special Session Update

Like I said before, there has not been very much action here in the Capitol. This week we have had one meeting of the Conference Committee on the budget, and expect to have at least one more before Friday. These meetings will hopefully settle the budgets for 4 out of 18 departments, which chips away at the outstanding items for a full budget to be passed. This progress makes me hopeful, but still leaves a lot of work to accomplish before the special session is over.

Outside of the budget, the only committee action has been a solely informational House Finance meeting (held today) on the differences between the House and Senate’s oil tax legislation. During this time, many legislators have chosen to be home while they wait for progress. One of the questions I’ve been asked a fair amount is whether my colleagues and I are taking per diem while we are not in Juneau. I, for one, have not taken per diem while I’ve been away from the Capitol, and will continue not taking any per diem when not working in Juneau.

Governor’s Proposal

I appreciate the Governor putting forward a plan that he and his team knew would not be embraced with open arms. I don’t agree with everything in his package, nor does anyone in the Legislature at this point. Though I do think he demonstrated to many in this building that compromising means having tough conversations that might not get you everything you want. As evidenced by responses from some after his plan was presented, there are still legislators who believe a “win-win” is them getting exactly what they want, and never having to give. Is the Governor’s plan going to be accepted whole-cloth? Probably not. But what it does prove is that it is possible, if hard work is done, to come up with a settlement.

From Service to the Moon!

NASA recently announced the selection of 11 new astronaut candidates for the class of 2017, out of a record 18,300 applicants. Among those 18,300 was long-time Alaskan Robb Kulin, a graduate of Service High School in 2001! To read the full story about this exciting news for Robb and his family, click here!

Way to go Robb! You make Alaska incredibly proud and we know you’ll succeed in your future trainings and missions!

Hanshew Teaching Duo Shines!

Principal Nancy Brain of Hanshew Middle School recently provided my office this news alert regarding two outstanding teachers in our community:

Great news – a Hanshew teaching duo are 2017 Denali Award Recipients. The award is the highest District honor given to employees.

Individually they are great teachers, but together they are like lightning in a bottle. That’s how Hanshew Middle School Principal Nancy Brain describes teachers Katie Weidemaier and Leah Dubber.

Weidemaier and Dubber took the initiative to start two new eighth-grade pre-AP courses at Hanshew. Working together, they wrote a course curriculum infusing AP strategies into eighth-grade language arts and social studies. The content focuses on high-level reading, writing, research, and text analysis.

Weidemaier is described as a visionary language arts teacher who continually seeks new ways to engage her students and expand their learning. She works closely with multiple state and community organizations to further educational opportunities at her school. She has been instrumental in developing the middle school debate program at Hanshew and across the District.

Dubber continually takes advantage of learning opportunities to engage and challenge her students. Each year, her students compete in the “We the People” Middle School Invitational. This program provides an avenue for students to learn the historical and philosophical foundations of our country’s ideas about the creation of the Constitution.

A parent said, “At a time when schools are being asked to do more with less, these two astonishing teachers engage, inspire, and stir passion for knowledge.”

Leah and Katie are two of the most creative, hardworking, student-centered teachers I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

Nancy Brain

Principal, Hanshew Middle School

Way to go Katie and Leah! You make District 25, and our community proud!

Seward Highway Progress

Below is the weekly update provided by the Alaska Department of Transportation on the Seward Highway Dimond to Dowling project.

ROAD CLOSURE: Brayton Drive is CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. Residents can access the northbound Seward Highway by using Sandlewood Place and Lore Road as an alternate DETOUR route. In addition, Sandlewood Place, Meadow Street and 68th Avenue should be used as a Brayton Drive business access DETOUR route.

NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN: Southbound Seward Highway traffic has shifted from the Seward Highway to Homer Drive, which now acts the southbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45 MPH throughout the construction zone.

FUTURE TRAFFIC PATTERN: Beginning Friday, June 9, northbound Seward Highway traffic will be shifted from the Seward Highway to Brayton Drive, which will now act as the northbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45 MPH throughout the construction zone.

Please note that no side road access will be permitted to and from the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads during construction.

  • Work will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through mid-October, in order to expedite the construction process.
  • To receive email updates about this project, email SewardDowlingDimond@spawnak.com.

 

admin @ June 7, 2017

Juneau Update for May 22, 2017

Posted in: Anchorage Issues, Anchorage Schools, Education, Fiscal Plan, General | Comments (0)

Special Session in Juneau

After butting up against the Constitutionally-mandated 121-day deadline, the Legislature was called by the Governor into a special session in Juneau.

These are the items Governor Walker would like to see passed this special session:

  • Broad-based tax, like an income tax
  • Motor fuels tax
  • Permanent Fund Restructure
  • Oil and gas tax credit reform
  • Operating, Capital and Mental Health Budgets
  • A bill related to the prescription and monitoring of opioids

This has been a particularly frustrating legislative session, filled with gridlock and lack of compromise. However, I view this special session as an opportunity to set aside our differences and tackle the issues on which there is agreement. I am hopeful this special session results in meaningful progress towards fiscal solutions for Alaska, a sustainable budget, changes to our tax credit system, and a cap on future government growth. We will keep you posted as the session moves forward!

Office Changes

My office, going into the summer and fall, will be undergoing some changes. In light of budget constraints facing our state, I will be reducing my staff by 1/3. Grace Abbott and Hans Rodvik in my office will be staying on and will continue to work hard to help us get our work done, answer your questions, and brainstorm ideas to help our community and Alaska. They are ready and willing to pick up a little extra slack, as many of us are doing right now, and are just as enthusiastic of public servants as ever. Stop by the office and introduce yourself, or give us a shout at 465-3879!

Ridesharing for Alaska

Before the end of the extended regular session, I was incredibly proud to vote in favor of bringing transportation network companies, like Lyft and Uber, to our state. Both residents and visitors have been asking the Legislature to bring Alaska into the 21st century and allow these companies to operate here. Our state faces any number of transportation obstacles, and we can use all the help we can get in improving access to rides. Thank you to everyone who wrote us in support of this job-creating policy – we received more letters, emails and calls in support from constituents on ridesharing than any other issue this year! I am excited to see the increased transportation opportunities that this bill will bring to Alaska, as well as the new employment opportunities. Start downloading your favorite ridesharing app today!

Education Funding

Many of you, both in District 25 and outside, have been asking the Legislature to pass a budget that funds education to at least last year’s level. I can tell you that personally, I agree. While our budget climate requires reductions and changes be made to the way our state spends, a successful future depends on our providing for education. I believe if we ensure some stability for districts this year, educators and administrators will be better enabled to produce efficiencies and improvements in education delivery. Without the stress of reducing their workforce this summer, districts can focus more on addressing budget challenges and innovating to reduce the effects of reduced revenue on classrooms.

In no way do I believe that those who would like to see our education budget reduced this year want to diminish outcomes or depreciate our public schools. We have a budget crisis on our hands, and looking through our school districts’ budgets, there appear to be more ways that spending could be scaled back or duplication reduced. It is simply my personal belief that if we hold school funding as harmless as possible this year, our results will be better down the road. I will be advocating for this position both in my caucus, and to my colleagues in the House and Senate. Please reach out with any questions or ideas on how we can improve our students’ experiences.

Abbott Loop Community Council

This Thursday, the 26th at 6:30pm the Abbott Loop Community Council is holding its May meeting. The meeting will take place at Abbott Loop Elementary, which is located 8427 Lake Otis Parkway. Community Council meetings are a great way to meet more of your neighbors, and get to know what is going on in your local area! I encourage you to go and look forward to seeing you at the next meeting when I’m home from Juneau!

School Is Out!

The last day of school for all Anchorage School District schools, is this Wednesday May 24th! I hope everyone has a safe, fun and productive summer! Congratulations to all the students who had another successful year!

admin @ May 22, 2017

Update for May 15, 2017

Posted in: Anchorage Schools, Budget, Education, Fiscal Plan, Kasuun Elementary School, Service High School | Comments (0)

Update on Alaska’s Fiscal Options

The past few days have seen a lot of movement on some important issues here in Juneau. Perhaps most importantly, we have finally seen the beginning of the budget negotiation process. The House and Senate met on Monday to organize the Conference Committee on the budget, which will be the group that will reconcile differences and come up with budget solutions that can garner enough support to fund government. I continue to believe there are many smart reductions and efficiencies to be found in our current administration, but will also be focused on reducing the effects of this downturn on our public safety and schools. It is our one constitutional obligation to pass a budget, and while I’m disappointed that this has taken so long to begin, I’m encouraged that movement is taking place.

We also saw significant progress this weekend on a plan to help our economy recover from its current recession. For months, there has been close evaluation and discussion of implementing an income tax to help pay for government. We’ve heard testimony from experts and from Alaskans on how taxing income during a recession would affect our state. After this lengthy debate, the income tax bill was voted on by both the House and Senate, and was unable to get enough support to pass this year. I remain focused on working to implement a sustainable plan to provide essential safety, health and education services this year. However, we have been told that an income tax would have burdened working Alaskans too heavily during a time where incomes are dropping and unemployment is at a high, and am thus glad to be able to move past this policy and onto better solutions. It is time to focus on other policy discussions that can unite us, rather than divide.

We are quickly approaching Wednesday’s constitutional deadline for this legislative session, and I am hopeful that my colleagues in the Majority will allow for a laser focus on the issues that are most pressing to Alaskans. We need to get our work done and find that common ground that Alaskans have been asking for these past 117 days.

Graduation and Final Weeks of School!

Today, Service High Seniors get to walk across the stage at the Sullivan Arena and accept their Diplomas! Congratulations to all of the hard-working graduates who have made it thus far in their educational pursuits! I know you will all do well during the next step of your journey, and hope that you know that you have a team of cheerleaders in our community who will be there to support you as you continue to work towards achieving your dreams.

The last day of classes for all ASD schools is May 24.

Over at Kasuun Elementary it’s a busy time as well. The 6th grade band and orchestra are having their final concert of the year on Thursday, May 18, at 9:30am. The school talent show is taking place on Friday, May 19, at 1:30pm. Field Day is the following Monday – with grades 4-6 in the morning, and K-3 in the afternoon! Looking ahead to next year, 1st grade will start at the same time as grades 2-12 on August 21, 2017 while preschool and Kindergarten kick off one week later on August 28th.

Construction Continues Along Seward Highway

The Alaska Department of Transportation sent out its weekly update for the Seward Highway Dimond to Dowling road project. Below is the DOT’s update from May 10th:

“ROAD CLOSURE: Homer Drive is CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. 68th Avenue will remain open during this time to traffic, and the Old Seward Highway will act as a main business access and DETOUR route.

Brayton Drive is CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. Residents can access the northbound Seward Highway by using Sandlewood Place and Lore Road as an alternate DETOUR route. In addition, Sandlewood Place, Meadow Street and 68th Avenue should be used as a Brayton Drive business access DETOUR route.

Please note that no side road access will be permitted to and from the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads during construction.

Beginning the evening of Saturday, May 20, southbound Seward Highway traffic will be shifted from the Seward Highway to Homer Drive, which will now act as the southbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45MPH throughout the construction zone.

Beginning Saturday, June 10, northbound Seward Highway traffic will be shifted from the Seward Highway to Brayton Drive, which will now act as the northbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45MPH throughout the construction zone.

Work will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through mid-October, in order to expedite the construction process.”

Drive safely everyone and slowdown in construction zones this summer!

admin @ May 15, 2017

Update for May 8, 2017

Posted in: Anchorage Issues, Anchorage Schools, Education, Kasuun Elementary School, PTA, Roads, Service High School, Trailside Elementary School | Comments (0)

Cougar Crossover Ceremony!

Last Friday was a special day at Service High! The annual tradition of Crossover Day, when the entire student body gathers to transition or “crossover” into the following grade year, took place. Each class of students sits in the bleachers until seniors move to the gym floor, juniors take the seniors place and so on. The ceremony is a time of great fun, special recognition, reflection and celebration. My staff member, Hans, presented legislative citations to a large number of Service High School students & athletes for their outstanding accomplishments! Pictured are members of the Varsity football team selected to the Cook Inlet Conference team, and some selected to the All-State team!

These are truly amazing kids with incredibly bright futures! Wish I could have been there!

Go Cougars!!

 

Construction Continues Along Seward Highway

The Alaska Department of Transportation provided its weekly Seward Highway Dimond to Dowling project update on May 3rd. The update was as follows:

ROAD CLOSURE: Homer Drive is CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. 68th Avenue will remain open during this time to traffic, and the Old Seward Highway will act as a main business access and DETOUR route.

Brayton Drive is CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. Residents can access the northbound Seward Highway by using Sandlewood Place and Lore Road as an alternate DETOUR route. In addition, Sandlewood Place, Meadow Street and 68th Avenue should be used as a Brayton Drive business access DETOUR route.

Please note that no side road access will be permitted to and from the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads during construction.

Later this season, Seward Highway traffic will be rerouted to the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads. Work will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through mid-October, in order to expedite the construction process.”

To receive these weekly updates related to this major project click here to subscribe.

 

Our Deepest Thanks

We in our office just wanted to take a minute to thank the wonderful, capable and super-human Mary Rosenfield for her service to the PTSA at Service High. Mary has gone above and beyond during her time as President, juggling her life, family, PTSA duties and Lady Cougar Volleyball responsibilities with true professionalism and heart. We are going to sincerely miss her leadership and could not be more grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Mary. She will be missed by anyone and everyone who had the chance to work with her, and we wish her all the best. We’re now very excited to have Sharron Johnson step up and take the reins!

Likewise, Principal Michael Day of Kasuun Elementary has announced his resignation after nine tremendous years of humble and steady leadership. Mr. Day has been an honest and competent Principal over his near decade of service to our community. We are truly going to miss him, and wish him and his family the absolute best on their new endeavor with the Yukon-Kuskokwim School District. The people of Koyukuk are truly blessed to be gaining such a reputable educator! Best of luck Mr. Day! To read Mr. Day’s farewell letter click here. For parents with children at Kasuun, here is the new Principal advisory process developed by ASD.

 

admin @ May 8, 2017

Update for May 2, 2017

Posted in: Anchorage Schools, General, Hanshew Middle School, Kasuun Elementary School, PTA, Roads, Service High School | Comments (0)

Update from the Capitol

We’re now in Day 106 of the Legislative session. Things are a bit slow going as we continue to inch towards the session’s 120-day constitutional deadline. There will be meetings all of this week going over certain implications of revenue generation plans, and other bills will continue to be heard in committee. If you’re interested in following along, the Legislature has good resources and tools on our website www.akleg.gov. There you can watch live meetings, see the daily schedule of hearings, and find a list of bills that will be considered on the House and Senate floors. We encourage you to check it out!

As always, if you have questions or thoughts you’d like to share on any issues before the Legislature or in our community, please feel free to give our office a call or send an email.

 

Cougars in the News

We were so proud to see the Service Boys’ Soccer team highlighted in the paper last week! Check out the story on their victory over Juneau!

https://www.adn.com/sports/high-school-sports/2017/04/26/cougars-pounce-on-juneau-for-nonconference-soccer-win/

Community Events

The next two weeks in our community promises to be a busy time. This Thursday, May 4th at 4pm, Trailside and Kasuun Elementary will be holding their PTA meetings. Next week our Service Cougars and Hanshew Hawks will have their PTA meetings. The Service PTA gathers on Tuesday the 9th at 6pm, while the Hanshew PTA meets on Monday the 8th at 6pm. Looking forward towards the end of the month, the Abbott Loop Community Council has its monthly meeting planned for Thursday May 25th, from 6:30-8:30pm at Abbott Loop Elementary.

 

Earthquake Safety

Yesterday morning, residents of Juneau and those of us working here in the Capitol City, were awakened by not one, but two earthquakes with magnitudes over 6.0. We are so grateful that no one was hurt and that infrastructure remained intact, but mornings like this serve as a good reminder that here in Alaska, earthquakes are never out of the question. To give you and your family some peace of mind, you can take measures to prepare for emergencies like an earthquake. The Red Cross has some good information, as does the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management on how you can prepare for an earthquake.

Seward Highway Project Update

As of last Wednesday, Homer Drive is CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. 68th Avenue will remain open during this time to traffic, and the Old Seward Highway will act as a main business access and DETOUR route. To stay apprised of what is happening with the project click here to subscribe to DOT’s newsletter email list.

admin @ May 2, 2017

Update for April 24, 2017

Posted in: Anchorage Issues, Anchorage Schools, Budget, Energy, Fiscal Plan, General, Kasuun Elementary School, Service High School, Trailside Elementary School | Comments (0)

Go Cougars!

A little soccer spotlight this week! District 25’ers should be celebrating our Service Lady Cougar Soccer Team, finishing last week’s games with a 10-1 win over Bartlett, a 4-1 win over East, and a tie-game with Dimond. We are beyond proud of these talented, motivated student athletes, and have a lot of hope for their continued success. They also have a great Twitter page, which you can use to stay up to date on games and schedules – follow @SHS_WSOC. Good luck ladies!

 

Budget Update

Here in Juneau, we are still waiting on the House Majority to name their conference committee members to begin the budget negotiation process. If you aren’t familiar with conference committees, they are committees comprised of members from the House and Senate that meet to go over differences and strike compromise when the two bodies have passed different versions of a certain bill.

In this case, the House and Senate both passed different budgets, and thus will have to work together to find common ground that both bodies can agree upon. For a conference committee on the budget to begin, House leadership must name their members. For 13 days we have been waiting for the House Majority to appoint representatives, and are hopeful action will be taken soon. Passing a budget is the Legislature’s one constitutionally mandated duty, and Alaskans are relying on us to provide essential services to protect safety and health.

 

Public Testimony on Income Taxes

The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee is holding public testimony on House Bill 115 – the income tax bill supported by the House Majority and Governor. Public testimony is slated for 5:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Below is the information on how to make your voice heard!

Senate LABOR & COMMERCE Committee  

Apr 25, 26, 27 at 5:00 PM

HB 115 INCOME TAX; PFD PAYMENT/CREDIT

Statewide Public Testimony —   — Public Testimony Limited to 2 Minutes   

  Please Sign-in at Your Local LIO No Later Than 6:30pm

Contact by Phone: 907-465-4968

From my perspective, implementing an income tax is premature and unnecessary when we know the budget can be balanced and a stable revenue stream can be used without taxing Alaskans and hurting our already struggling economy. As policymakers, we have been told time and time again that tipping the scale too much and implementing too many changes this year could drive our state further into a recession. I believe we need to have a thoughtful approach – balanced spending reductions, asset restructuring and a tighter spending cap. An income tax is just too heavy a burden on Alaskans and businesses this year.

 

House Bill 111 – Oil Taxes and Credits

Last week, the Senate Resources Committee held public testimony for the first time on the version of HB 111 that passed the House. Alaskans spoke loud and clear: they do not want taxes changed or raised on our state’s most vital industry that has been in a downturn since 2015 due to low oil prices. 47 Alaskans spoke against HB 111, while 11 spoke in favor of it. Many commented on the fact that SB 21 is clearly working (even with low prices): if trends hold – production through TAPS will have increased two years in a row (something that hasn’t happened since the 1980s), new fields have been discovered, and major investments have occurred since 2013. The picture below is from ConocoPhillips, showing the activities that company has engaged in following the passage of SB 21.

Consultants testified that raising taxes at low prices – a large piece of HB 111 – would negatively impact investment levels, production and jobs for Alaskans. Oil from new fields, such as those discovered by Caelus, ConocoPhillips and Repsol costs $10-20 more per barrel to develop, than oil from legacy fields like Prudhoe Bay. Increasing government take (which accounts for all taxes/royalties a company pays) as HB 111 envisions at all prices between $50- 110 per barrel, will only make it harder for companies to bring new production online.

Projects like Smith Bay, Pikka, Willow and Nuna would increase production by hundreds of thousands of barrels, create thousands of high paying jobs, and generate billions of dollars in new revenue for the State. SB 21 has helped make these projects viable, while HB 111 threatens to undercut or outright stop them. I believe Alaska should keep our competitive tax structure in place, and do all we can to increase production – not focus on short term cash grabs by changing our tax regime again.

 

School Happenings

This week, students from both Trailside and Kasuun Elementary will be participating in spring cleanup days. The Knights will be tackling their campus clean up on Friday, while the Timberwolves will be coming in on Saturday to spiff up their school. It’s great to hear about active, engaged and thoughtful students who care about the well-being of their schools!

Also, at Trailside it’s Staff Appreciation Week! Our deepest gratitude goes out to the hard working teachers, support staff and administrators who make Trailside the great school it is. You all do an amazing job and make our district a wonderful place. Go Timberwolves!

 

The DEA is coordinating this effort to safely dispose of your prescription medications!

admin @ April 24, 2017

End of Session Update 4/17/2017

Posted in: Anchorage Issues, Budget, Fiscal Plan, General, Service High School | Comments (0)

Friendly Faces!

It was wonderful seeing my cousin, Lisa Anderson, and students from the Bristol Bay region who were in Juneau to talk about education. 

   Service High School Principal Hauser stopped by for a visit! Go Cougars!

90 Days Come and Gone

It is now Day 91 of the 2017 Legislative Session. To my dismay, the Legislature has been unable to complete its work in the timeframe set forth by the people of Alaska. The people voted for a 90 day session, though our State Constitution allows the Legislature to continue working for a full 120 days. Throughout the session my 17 Republican colleagues and I, who make up the House Minority, urged the Democrat-led Majority to work weekends, hold longer floor sessions and focus committee work on only major fiscal issues. Sadly, our requests went mostly ignored. We now we find ourselves locked in gridlock and in extended session for the foreseeable future.

Major issues such as the budget, fiscal plan proposals, oil tax credit reform, and implementing a legitimate spending cap have not yet been completed and passed by both bodies. Completing the budget, and determining how to fund it, is the most important task remaining on our plate. I remain optimistic that through calm, rational deliberation we will reach a solution that secures a bright future for our state. I am hopeful that the House Majority joins me in that sentiment.

Fiscal Plan Update

On Wednesday the 12th, the Democrat House Majority passed Senate Bill 26 on a party line vote. Senate Bill 26 would have significantly addressed our budget deficit. I liked portions of the bill, though not all aspects of it. However, SB 26 was grossly amended by the House Majority in the Finance Committee. The $4.1 billion spending cap and $1.2 billion “revenue draw limit” were both removed. Furthermore, “poison pill” conditional language was inserted into the bill calling for the imposition of an income tax and higher oil taxes in order for SB 26 to become law. I along with my 18-member Republican Caucus voted against this bill the dangerous conditional language.

Then on Saturday, April 15, which ironically happened to be federal tax day, the House Majority passed HB 115, which I like to call the “Tax Working Alaskans Act.” Should HB 115 pass the Senate, it would impose the first income tax in Alaska since 1980. All members of the House Republican Minority voted against it. We stood resolutely against the taking of $670+ million from working Alaskans to prop up government. HB 115 is unlikely to pass the Senate, however, it’s highly concerning to see the House Majority disregard our struggling private sector economy by pushing for an income tax. Likewise, Governor Walker issued a press release praising the House Majority’s passage of an income tax.

Opioid Crisis Update

Last month, House Bill 24, my bill that criminalizes the possession and sale of the incredibly dangerous synthetic opioid U-47700, also known as “Pink”, overwhelmingly passed the Alaska State House. On Monday, April 3rd, HB 24 unanimously passed the Alaska State Senate! It empowers state and local law enforcement to put dealers behind bars and save the lives of Alaskans caught in the downward spiral of opioid addiction.

We are now waiting for the House Majority to bring forth HB 24 so that we can accept the changes made to it by the Senate. Once that action occurs, HB 24 will be sent to Gov. Walker.

Our legislation is one component of Alaska’s comprehensive statewide plan to fight opioid addiction, a menace to our society destroying lives, families and communities. We hope swift action will be taken by Governor Walker to sign this legislation into law once it reaches his desk.

Seward Highway Project Update

Construction season is beginning to heat up in town! The Seward Highway Dimond to Dowling project is a major construction project slated to run two full seasons. Here is the most recent information on the project from DOT:

ROAD CLOSURE: Homer Drive is now CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. 68th Avenue will remain open during this time to traffic, and the Old Seward Highway will act as a main business access and DETOUR route.

Brayton Drive is now CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. Residents can access the northbound Seward Highway by using Sandlewood Place and Lore Road as an alternate DETOUR route. In addition, Sandlewood Place, Meadow Street and 68th Avenue should be used as a Brayton Drive business access DETOUR route.

Please note that no side road access will be permitted to and from the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads during construction.

  • Later this season, Seward Highway traffic will be rerouted to the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads. Work will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through mid-October, in order to expedite the construction process.
  • To receive email updates about this project, email: SewardDowlingDimond@spawnak.com

 

 

admin @ April 17, 2017

Update for April 7, 2017

Posted in: Announcements, Budget, Fiscal Plan, General, Roads | Comments (0)

Fiscal Plan Update

We are now at day 81 of 90 of the Legislative Session. While many of us went into this session filled with a lot of optimism about solving our fiscal crisis, it has been disappointing to see the House Democratic Majority stall every piece of legislation that could solve our state’s enormous fiscal deficit. Thus far, the Democrat Majority has failed to gain enough votes to advance their two major pieces of legislation: HB 115 (income tax and Permanent Fund POMV plan) and HB 111 (oil and gas taxes/credits). Both bills remain stuck in the House Finance Committee, and legislators have no idea when they might be ready for primetime. This stalling represents a huge setback in getting Alaska’s budget under control and helping our struggling economy.

House Republicans have continued to advance ideas that would close the budget deficit, provide fiscal certainty to businesses, and avoid imposing taxes on Alaskan families. A major component of our fiscal plan, House Bill 192, has not even received a hearing. My caucus and I are dedicated to completing our work on time and in 90 days. Unfortunately, multiple critical hearings have been canceled and House Floor votes have yet to occur despite our having less than two weeks to go.

 

Tax Bills Update

This year we have seen nine different tax proposals introduced, and none of them have advanced to a vote on the House Floor. These bills, most of which were introduced by the House Democratic Majority, increase the cost of running small businesses, reduce Alaskans income, tax essential commodities, and hurt our state’s biggest employers. None of these bills close the fiscal gap, but they will all grow the cost of living for Alaskan families.

Alaska is in the midst of a serious recession, and I am generally not comfortable with new or higher taxes on our struggling economy. Our government must be creative with its resources, and find new innovative ways to live within its means before turning to taxes on Alaskans. I will be tracking all of these tax proposals as they move through the process, and will keep you posted as to their different financial implications for our communities and families.

 

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Alaska. Now is a good time to reflect on the ways we can work to prevent assault and support survivors. By working together and pooling our resources during the month of April, we can highlight sexual violence as a significant public health, human rights and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts. Standing Together Against Rape, a non-profit serving victims and encouraging prevention of sexual violence in Alaska, has many events planned during the month of April including:

Trusted Adult Superhero Day: 2nd Week of April, throughout Anchorage

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: Saturday, April 29th, 11:30 a.m., University Center Mall

International Denim Day: Wednesday, April 26th, All Day, throughout Anchorage

To find out more or see ways you can help, visit: http://www.staralaska.com/sexual-assault-awareness-month.html

Opioid Crisis

Last month, House Bill 24, my bill that criminalizes the possession and sale of the incredibly dangerous synthetic opioid U-47700, also known as “Pink”, overwhelmingly passed the Alaska State House. On Monday, April 3rd, HB 24 unanimously passed the Alaska State Senate! It empowers state and local law enforcement to put dealers behind bars and save the lives of Alaskans caught in the downward spiral of opioid addiction.

Our legislation is one component of Alaska’s comprehensive statewide plan to fight opioid addiction, a menace to our society destroying lives, families and communities. House Bill 24 now heads to Governor Bill Walker’s desk, where we hope swift action will be taken to sign this legislation into law.

Seward Highway Project Update

Following the recent snowfall, the project has resumed its normal pace of work. For a full project overview from the Alaska Department of Transportation, click here. DOT put out the following statement regarding Brayton Drive:

Beginning Monday, April 10 at 8:00pm, Brayton Drive will be CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. Residents can access the northbound Seward Highway by using Sandlewood Place and Lore Road as an alternate DETOUR route. In addition, Sandlewood Place, Meadow Street and 68th Avenue should be used as a          Brayton Drive business access DETOUR route.

Please note that no side road access will be permitted to and from the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads during construction.

  • Later this season, Seward Highway traffic will be rerouted to the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads. Work will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,           through mid-October, in order to expedite the construction process.
  • To receive email updates about this project, email: SewardDowlingDimond@spawnak.com

 

admin @ April 7, 2017

Update for March 31, 2017

Posted in: Anchorage Issues, Announcements, Budget, Fiscal Plan | Comments (0)

 

Hannah Fjeld and Janelle Solbos, two Pharmacy School students from District 25 came by to visit this week! Seeing smart, driven young students makes you hopeful for our state’s future.

 

 

 

 

Update on Fiscal Plans

This week, we were grateful for the outpouring of public testimony on the House Democrats’ proposed income tax, House Bill 115. Not only did the House Finance Committee hear the voices of Alaskans, but legislators throughout the building were watching, and paying attention to the thoughts of their constituents. Of the 127 testifiers across the state, the majority of testifiers called to show their deep opposition to House Bill 115 and reinstituting an income tax in this economy. This sentiment reflects what we have heard in our office from those who have called and emailed. While most Alaskans believe a fiscal plan must be accomplished this year, they continue to demonstrate firm opposition to an income tax due to the incredibly damaging affect it would have on businesses during this recession.

 
As we mentioned last week, the House Republicans have introduced a comprehensive fiscal plan that doesn’t rely on taxes to sustain essential services. House Bill 192 caps state spending, makes phased reductions to the budget, and uses our states’ assets in a more efficient manner. An important part of this plan is that it enables the PFD to grow with the overall Permanent Funds, and keeps money circulating in the hands of private citizens, thereby, helping Alaska slide further into the recession.

One of the most dedicated and passionate advocates for our children, Trevor Storrs, also happens to be a great constituent! Thanks for the visit!

Income Tax Facts

Alaska hasn’t had a state income tax since 1980 when it was repealed. HB 115, being championed by the House Majority, would reinstitute that tax. All types of income (including retirement, earnings from trusts, ANSCA shareholder dividends etc.) earned in Alaska would be taxed, with both residents and non-residents having to.

The income tax would take $680 million from Alaskans, and give it to state government. 60 new state employees will be hired to administer the tax. The bill would establish a progressive income tax with six different brackets. The highest marginal rate, of 7%, imposed under HB 115 would be the 12th highest in the country for single filers.

Currently, there are seven states with no income tax in the U.S., Alaska being one of them. I want Alaska to remain amongst those seven states.

Happy to meet with the Alaska Banker’s Association to talk fiscal plans this week!

Seward Highway Dowling to Dimond Project

On Wednesday, our office sent out a special update on the upcoming project to expand the Seward Highway, and its effect on the Dowling-Dimond corridor. We have been working overtime to make sure the concerns of community members, schools and businesses in the area are brought to the Department of Transportation’s attention. Little work was done by the Department to ensure that stakeholders in the area were engaged and given adequate notification of the upcoming road closures.

To find out more about the project, you can read our Wednesday Update here: http://charissemillett.com/?p=2149

 

Awesome meeting with members of Safari Club International, and a special visit from constituent, Bethany Marcum! Thank you to the club for advocating for our outdoor heritage!

Municipal Election Next Week

Tuesday, April 4th is Anchorage’s Municipal Election Day! Polls are open from 7AM to 8PM, and you can look up your polling place here: http://www.muni.org/Departments/Assembly/Clerk/Elections/2017%20Election%20Documents/NoticeofPollingPlaces.pdf

On the ballot are candidates for Assembly Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, School Board seats C and D, service areas, a ballot proposition, and many bond proposals. Our city works best when our residents are engaged and share their thoughts about how we can improve and grow. Let your voice be heard on April 4th!

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this update! We really appreciate your engagement.

Our toll free number is 888-269-3879 and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Just click on the links below. We are listening.
Warmly,

admin @ March 31, 2017

Special Seward Highway Project Update

Posted in: Anchorage Issues, Announcements, Roads | Comments (0)

Last Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) held a public forum, which I attended, about their project to expand the Seward Highway from Dimond Boulevard to Dowling Road. I know it was short notice, so thanks to all who were able to take the time out of their day to attend!

Construction has already begun on the Brayton side of the Seward Highway, with work connecting Sandlewood Place to Lore Road underway. Homer and Brayton Drive (the frontage roads for the Seward Highway) will be closed beginning March 31, and April 7th respectively at 8pm. According to DOT, the Seward Highway will be shut down in May and re-open in November of this year. The full project will last until June 2019.

Here is an overview of the affected areas:

Multiple businesses along the frontage roads were given exceptionally short notice that their points of ingress/egress would either be closed off or significantly impacted. To my knowledge DOT has not done an economic impact analysis concerning the frontage road closures and the impacts it will have on local businesses. I will be asking DOT Commissioner Luiken why this has not yet occurred.

I am working closely with DOT, local businesses and other community members to provide the most up to date and accurate information regarding this project.

Working in conjunction with community members, I hope to hold an informational meeting in coming days, at which constituents may ask DOT questions or raise concerns they might have about the project. As always, I’ll try to provide the most accurate and up to date information surrounding this issue. At this site you’ll find general project information, and a traffic-flow graphic DOT intends to upload shortly.

Below is more information on the project’s timeframe and scope.

admin @ March 29, 2017