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
Anchorage Honors Fallen Firefighter
Last Friday, the Anchorage community, as well as the fraternity of firefighters, lost Senior Captain Jeff Bayless, who collapsed during a training exercise and passed away later that day. Senior Captain Bayless served since 1991 in the Anchorage Fire Department. He started out as a paramedic, and in 1995 made the transition to becoming a firefighter when the department integrated several divisions. He is probably best known to Anchorage residents for being the Senior Captain that led the effort to free a kayaker trapped in a logjam in the Eagle River rapids. The Red Cross of Alaska honored Senior Captain Bayless and his station with awarding them the Honored Heroes Award.
Yesterday, the honor flag, the American flag which flew over Ground Zero in New York City after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, arrived in Anchorage. The flag has been used in the funerals of fallen first responders around the country since. The honor flag will be present at the funeral service for Senior Captain Bayless. Senior Captain Bayless’ wife Gail will also receive an American and Alaska state flag that have flown over the capitol building here in Juneau. The flags were erected by firefighters from Anchorage and Juneau.
The loss of Senior Captain Bayless is a reminder of the sacrifice our first responders make in the name of protecting others. Our thoughts and wishes are with his family.
The service honoring Senior Captain Bayless will take place this Saturday, at 2pm, at the Egan Center.
House Passes Operating Budget
Yesterday, the Alaska House of Representatives passed the operating budget for the next fiscal year. The operating budget that passed totaled $9.148 billion, with $5.82 billion of the budget being state funds. This is a decrease of $2.3 billion from the previous fiscal year. For several years, we have been talking about the need to arrest the growth in many aspects of our public finances. Very respected figures such as UAA economist Scott Goldsmith have been talking about not prioritizing financing projects today at the expense of future Alaskans. There is no question that this is an incredibly difficult balance; no one wants to cut programs that invest in our communities today. And honestly, no one truly knows what the future circumstances of our grandchildren will be.. But the fact remains that Alaska’s economy is based on a finite, eventually depleting resource. We need to think far down the road to where Alaskans will not have access to such resource wealth, and budget with them in mind. The operating budget now moves on to the Senate for consideration.
District 24 News:
Service High Basketball in State Championships
Our Cougar Boys’ Varsity team will compete next week for the state crown. After a hard fought second place finish against West in the Cook Inlet Conference finals last week, Service is looking to laugh last and end first at the most important tournament of the year. The tournament kicks off next Thursday at 9:45am, when the Cougars will take on West Valley from Fairbanks at the Sullivan Arena.
UAA Debate Team takes on Yale University at East High School
The world ranked UAA Speech and Debate Team promise to put on a show next Thursday. For the several years now, the local university’s prowess in debate has drawn opponents from Stanford, Harvard, and the national Irish champions to spar over issues such as hate speech, discrimination, and the right to bear arms. This year’s motion is “No public funds should go to fund competitive athletics in public education.” On the stage with UAA will be two debaters from Yale University who this year made a significant showing at the recent Worlds Universities Debate Championships in India. To have this caliber of oratory and discourse right in our community is a treat which we encourage everyone to take advantage.
The debate will be this coming Thursday, March 20th, at 7:30pm, in the East High School auditorium. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. If you are a student, the cost will be $5 in advance and $10 at the door. To get your tickets in advance, please book online at www.uaatix.com
admin @ March 14, 2014
Governor Signs HJR 15, HJR 23
Governor Parnell on Tuesday signed House Joint Resolutions 15 and 23 into law. Our office is really appreciative that the Governor has these two pieces of legislation be his first signing event of the session. House Joint Resolution 15 calls upon Congress to pass legislation holding the federal government financially responsible for contaminated lands that it conveyed to Alaska Natives through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. House Joint Resolution 23 remembers the first responders of the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. Both resolutions passed the House and Senate unanimously.
Both resolutions were the result of members of the public coming to our office and bringing these subjects to light. Without their expertise as well as their commitment to these issues, the public discourse would not be well served. Thanks go out to Maver Carey and the Alaska Native Village CEOs Association, who have for years sought to raise awareness about the contamination of ANCSA lands. Thanks as well to Mr. Charles Volanti, who served on Kulis Air Base during the Good Friday Earthquake and was the driver towards recognizing the brave men and women who served others through that momentous time in our state’s history.
District 24 News
Cougars Basketball at the Cook Inlet Conference:
Don’t miss a great opportunity to support your Cougar boys’ varsity basketball team tonight. The Cook Inlet Conference semi-final match is this Friday evening at 4:30pm at West High School. The Cougars will be tipping off against the Eagle River Wolves, who are coming off a stunning last minute defeat of East. Service looks to repeat its show of force it displayed in a dominating performance of Chugiak. Don’t forget to get your green and gold out.
admin @ March 7, 2014
Legislature Welcomes Rep. Sam Kito III
This week, the House seat for District 32 that had been held by my dear friend Beth Kertulla was filled by the appointment and approval of Sam Kito III. With Rep. Kito being sworn in, the Alaska Legislature now has its first Tlingit legislator from the Juneau-Douglas area. The Legislature now has either Representatives or Senators representing every major Alaska Native group in the state. We welcome Rep. Kito and wish him, and the great residents of downtown Juneau and Douglas Island, all the best. Having known Rep. Kito for almost twenty years ( I even had the privilege of babysitting his beautiful daughter Gabryel on numerous occasions), I can say that he is an honorable man who will serve his community with dignity and a sincere obligation to public service.
Resolution Honoring First Responders of Good Friday Earthquake Passes Senate
This past Monday the Senate passed House Joint Resolution 23. HJR honors the work of first responders who courageously worked in the immediate aftermath of the greatest earthquake in North American history. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Good Friday Earthquake. Though the damage done by this seismic event and the tsunamis that it created was catastrophic, Alaskans faced danger to help their neighbors and loved ones. In some cases, this dedication to others resulted in first responders making the ultimate sacrifice. Events such as the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964 serve as a reminder not only to be prepared, but that human beings, and Alaskans, when faced with adversity think of support each other.
With the unanimous passage of HJR 23 in the Senate, the resolution has been approved by the Alaska Legislature and awaits the Governor’s signature. A special thanks needs to go to Mr. Charles Volanti, who served at Kulis Air Base during the earthquake and brought this idea to our office’s attention.
House Bill 247 Introduced to Offer Benefits to Police Officers, Firefighters
Since 2006, Alaska public employees have been part of a defined contribution plan. Unlike the defined benefit, which is a pension that states what the employee will receive in retirement, the defined contribution plan is a 401 (k). Though defined contributions are financially beneficial to the state because its obligation ends with its matching contribution, it makes employment and retirement security much less sure. This is especially true of police officers and firefighters. The job is filled with hazards, and it is ultimately a young person’s career that can end on any given call.
To bring some security to these brave women and men, as well as financial solvency to the State of Alaska, House Bill 247 has been introduced. Along with the offices of Representatives Lindsey Holmes and Gabrielle LeDoux, we have introduced a Variable Benefits Plan for public safety employees. Also known nationally as a hybrid plan, the variable benefit operates as a pension to the employees, but the obligation of the employer ends at the contribution. This gives comfort and an attractive draw for potential police and firefighters while also not adding to the unfunded liability the state is working to pay down.
House Bill 247 has been referred to the Labor and Commerce and Finance Committees. To learn more about variable benefits and this legislation, please contact our office at 465-3879 or Representative.Charisse.Millett@akleg.gov
Employment First Legislation Passes House
We have been giving updates these last few weeks on House Bill 211, which would make Alaska an Employment First state. This designation would have state services for individuals with disabilities directed towards a primary objective of having these individuals be gainfully employed. The House Labor and Commerce Committee and House Finance Committee heard not only from self-advocates and their relatives on how gainful employment is such a positive difference in their lives. Businesses such as the Matsu Regional Medical Center testified about the phenomenal success their participation in programs like Project SEARCH has been. Project SEARCH finds work for individuals with disabilities that are tailored to their needs and skills.
The House earlier this week unanimously approved House Bill 211. The bill now goes to the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee, its only committee of referral. To learn more about Employment First, please contact our office.
House Joint Resolution 15 Moves to Senate Floor
The Senate Resources Committee yesterday heard and passed out House Joint Resolution 15. This was a resolution our office began work on last session in conduction with groups such as the Alaska Native Village CEOs Association. HJR 15 calls upon Congress to pass legislation holding the federal government responsible for the cleanup of contaminated sites it conveyed to Alaska Native landholders under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Contaminants ranging from arsenic to PCBs to mercury have been identified. The cleanup costs to these areas easily go into the millions of dollars, sometimes the tens of millions. Costs that high can easily bankrupt the many Village Corporations who are the landowners. Moreover, until the contaminants are polluting traditional subsistence areas, preventing the traditional hunting and fishing of resources.
HJR 15 now moves onto the Senate Floor for final passage.
District 24 News
March 1st Constituent Meeting
This Saturday, along with Senator Kevin Meyer and his office, we will be hosting a mid-session constituent meeting. Please come from 1:00-3:00 at Little Italy Restaurant, which is located at 2300 East 88th Avenue in District 24. We would love to hear your views on how the session is going, as well as any suggestions you may have. To know more about Saturday’s meeting, please contact our office.
PTA Meetings Next Week
Next Tuesday, March 4th, District 24 has two PTA meetings:
Trailside Elementary will meet at 2:15pm
Service High will meet at 6:00pm
Benefit for Jessica
Tomorrow from 5:30-9:30pm will be an event we ask everyone for their support if possible. Jessica Piraino, who graduated from Service High last year, was involved in a motor vehicle accident near McCarthy. Though she survived, Jessica is now paralyzed from the chest down. Her family’s resources are stretched, and they would like the community’s help. They are trying to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle, a standing frame, and a crank cycle for Jessica.
The event tomorrow will have a silent and live auction at The Shops on O’Malley. It is being organized by The Friends of Jessica as well as the Firetap Alehouse Restaurant, Steamdot Coffee, and the Yogurt Lounge. To learn about how you can help, please contact Molly Boots at 345-2878 or Lin Heiser at 748-5870
admin @ February 27, 2014
Earlier this session I announced that doctors had discovered a lesion in my brain that, coupled with other indicators, very likely meant I had Multiple Sclerosis. Though it was an upsetting time that brought incredible concern to family and friends, the outpouring of support and well wishes was nothing short of incredible.
This week I travelled to Seattle to have the diagnosis confirmed. To our complete surprise, and joy, the test came back negative. Apparently lesions on the brain can occur naturally and can be benign. Though I will have to undergo head exams regularly for the rest of my life, MS is not something I will be contending with for now.
Thank you so much to all of those who shared their experiences with this condition, and how they dealt with it. To say it was inspirational sounds cheesy, but you don’t really appreciate the term “inspirational” until you have someone who instills that spirit within you. I look forward to working harder than ever for the great neighbors in District 24.
Senator Murkowski-Constituents and Friends Visits Alaska Legislature
We received a special visitor to Juneau this week. Alaska’s senior Senator Lisa Murkowski gave her annual address to the legislature. Senator Murkowski spoke about issues such as Alaska’s role at the table on Arctic policy, energy development, and federal overreach. Alaska really is fortunate to have such a hardworking woman who cares about her state the way Senator Murkowski does.
In addition to Senator Murkowski, constituents and others visitors made the flight into Juneau to discuss their various legislative priorities. As always, please let us know if you are coming to Juneau so that we have the opportunity to meet with you. You can contact us at 465-3879, or email our office at Representative.Charisse.Millett@akleg.gov
House Joint Resolution 15 Passes House
On Monday the Alaska House of Representatives unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 15. Our office introduced HJR 15 last year in response to concerns from members of the Alaska Native community who discovered contaminated sites on lands conveyed to them through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The contaminated sites were created either by various department and agencies of the federal government, or were operations overseen by them. Over 650 such sites were identified by the Department of Interior in a report to Congress in 1998. These sites have contaminants such as asbestos, arsenic, mercury and PCBs. Many of these areas are in traditional subsistence lands and waterways, and in close proximity to villages.
What HJR 15 does is call upon Congress to pass legislation holding the federal government responsible for the cleanup of these sites. It is sending a message that we as Alaskans stand with our Congressional delegation in getting these lands remediated. We were very successful in working with Senator Murkowski in pressing the issue of the Legacy Wells in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. That effort resulted in 50 million dollars being allocated towards the cleaning and capping of these well heads.HJR 15 now heads to the Senate Resources Committee.
House Bill 211 Moves to House Floor
Our office is the appointed legislative member to the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education. One of the main priorities for the Council is to see Alaska become an Employment First State. “Employment First” is reorienting goals for state departments and agencies that provide services to individuals with disabilities. Instead of assuming an individual cannot work because they have a disability, the goal would be to instead provide training, support and motivation for those individuals to become gainfully employed in an integrated workplace.
Over twenty six other states have implemented Employment First policies with amazing results. People with disabilities who were never considered before are now thriving in careers alongside people without disabilities. Health care costs are going down, and these women and men are building assets as well as incredible workplace relationships. It is the epitome of a Win-Win.
The enabling legislation for this, House Bill 211, moved out of the House Finance Committee on Tuesday. It will be on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives in all likelihood next week. To learn more about Employment First, please contact our office.
Anchorage Caucus Update
This Saturday, February 22nd, at 9:00am, the Anchorage Caucus will hold its mid-session public hearing in the Assembly Chambers of the Loussac Library. Members of the public have an opportunity to voice their concerns to members of the House and Senate who will be in attendance. To learn more about Anchorage Caucus, please contact our office.
District 24 News
Abbott Loop Community Council Meeting
The Abbott Loop Community Council will be having its February meeting next Thursday, February 27th, at 7:00pm at Abbott Loop Elementary School.
Drama Debate and Forensics State Championships Results
Service High participants did really well at the Alaska State Championships for Drama Debate and Forensics. Service won the Sportsmanship Award for the 4A schools classification. Darrian Traw and Benjamin Wrede took 5th in Pantomine. Chris Cox and Benjamin Wrede came in 2nd for Duet Acting. Jocelyn Stanley took 2nd in Humorous Interpretation. Brendan Thompson and Zachary Scriven placed 5th in Duo Interpretation. Chandler Powers placed 5th in Foreign Extemporaneous. Lindsey Von Tish made it to Semifinals in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Congratulations to our Cougar orators, performers and debaters!
Nordic Skiing State Championships
From February 21st-23rd, Kincaid Park Trails will host the very best our state has in Nordic skiing. Alaska has a proud tradition of producing Olympic cross-country skiers, and with the Winter Olympics occurring right now in Sochi, there is no better time to get into the spirit. Come down and support your Cougar skiers. Service High already boasts having the best lady Nordic skier in the Cook Inlet Conference thanks to Emma Tarbath’s fantastic performance. Bring your mitts and scarves for an exciting weekend.
admin @ February 21, 2014
We got off to a busy session this year, but had a little twist to it. While being treated for back pain I was experiencing the day before the beginning of the legislature, doctors discovered a lesion in my brain. The likely diagnosis is Multiple Sclerosis, known also as MS. The new was admittedly shocking; MS is a lifelong chronic condition. Though I will have to travel out of state to confirm the diagnosis, we are already working on a plan, and there are a lot of great people who lead by example.
For weeks now, among the many well-wishers, there have also been those who have come forward to share with me, my family and our office that they too have MS, and they do not let it stop them. These are mayors, state senators and directors of large organizations, seasoned legislative staffers and successful businesspeople. Many have had MS for more than twenty years. We quickly grasped what they were saying: you are going to get through this and thrive.
Earlier last week, after finishing medical consultations in Anchorage, I had the opportunity to go to the Abbott Loop Community Council. The outpouring of support was humbling. I write to tell you what I said then: I am going to be stronger than ever. District 24 will continue to be well represented with even more tenacity and attention you all deserve. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your thoughts, prayers and wishes. But most of all, thank you for the trust you have placed in me to represent you, your loved ones and your neighborhood. I promise you I will continue to advocate for this part of Alaska that is home to you and me.
Below is a link to the wonderful story that Natalie Travis from KTBY did earlier this week. The more we find out about my diagnosis, the more you all will be updated.
To contact our office, please call at either 465-3879 or email us at Representative.Charisse.Millett@akleg.com
On the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives today, we passed House Joint Resolution 23. This legislation would mark March 27th of this year Good Friday Earthquake Remembrance Day. Being an Alaskan means being intimately aware of the impact that the largest seismic event in North American history had on our communities. But what is special about this event is not just the fact that we are marking fifty years since this important event.
We are commemorating the actions of the first responders: the National Guard and other military units that threw themselves into harm’s way to save and protect those impacted by the earthquake. Some paid with their lives. It is fitting that we take this opportunity to remember not just the devastation which was of epic proportions. But more importantly we should remember that in times of great distress, we still look out for one another. Villagers and townspeople all over the state, despite their distressed circumstances, made it a point to help others. We give special thanks to Charles Volanti, who as a member of the Guard on Kulis Air Base in Anchorage during the quake was one of those first responders, and the man who came up with this wonderful resolution. HJR 23 is now heading to the Senate for consideration.
Earlier last year, we traveled to Washington D.C. to highlight the distress many Alaska Native organizations are experiencing as a result of the contaminated lands conveyed to them through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, better known as ANCSA. These contaminated sites are the product of federal agencies such as the FAA and the military installing structures that housed hazardous materials. The remediation process has been incredibly slow. Our Alaska Congressional delegation is completely supportive of this process, but it has been frustrating that there has been no real movement towards a clean-up from most of these departments and agencies.
House Joint Resolution 15 calls on Congress to pass legislation that would have the federal government pay for these sites to be properly removed and the land around it restored. On Monday, February 10th, we will have a hearing on this resolution in the House Resources Committee. Hopefully next week’s update will tell you that HJR 15 is heading for the floor of the House!
A real priority for the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education is to get individuals with disabilities gainfully employed. House Bill 211 would make Alaska an Employment First State. What that means is that when providing services to someone with disabilities, it is that public agency’s primary objective and preferred outcome to have them gainfully employed. Employment First is a movement that is occurring all over the country. This legislation does not force anyone to employ someone. But what it does do is change the fundamental framework of how a person is viewed. Instead of simply being a person with disabilities, resources directed towards them should have a goal of helping them become as independent as possible.
Studies show time and again that when individuals with disabilities become employed, their health costs are lower because they are healthier, they are happier because they live a higher quality of life, they live longer and better. With passage of this bill, Alaska would join the more than twenty other states that view the members of their community with disabilities as assets to the workforce and to those around them. House Bill 211 will be heard on Monday, February 10th in the House Labor and Commerce Committee.
The other legislative focus for the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, as well as the Key Coalition, is to have state guidelines on what constitutes the physical restraint and seclusion of students. Though many of our school districts already have programs in place to address this issue, as well as well trained staff, Alaska is one of 23 states that have no statewide policy on defining what restraint and seclusion is and when it is and is not allowed. This issue was brought to our attention by parents who did not know until days or even weeks later that their children had been physically restrained or secluded for prolonged periods of time.
House Bill 210 does several things to address this. First, it defines what is the physical restraint or the seclusion of a student. By setting clear terms to these words, students and school personnel are protected. Second, parents have a right to know within one day if their child was subjected to any form of restraint and seclusion, and also have the right to see a school district’s safety and discipline program. Third, school districts need to have staff trained in proper de-escalation techniques and, if a student needs to be restrained or secluded, how to do it without harming the student. The Department of Education would approve those training programs. Finally, school districts would report to the Department of Education once a year on the number of times students were restrained or secluded.
House Bill 210 will be heard on Wednesday, February 12th in the House Education Committee.
It’s ironic that many of the people we have an opportunity to see in Juneau are in Anchorage year round. The session brings us together to collaborate on opportunities for legislation as well as sharing our cultural perspectives and shared interests. That was why it was so wonderful to meet with old friends such as Valerie Davidson from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. I was able to personally thank her for the way the consortium and the Alaska Native Medical Center treated me during my brief stay there earlier in January.
Also stopping by to visit was Trina Landlord, the Executive Director of the Alaska Native Arts Foundation. We spoke of the works honoring Elizabeth Peratrovich, an icon for Alaska Natives, women and Alaskans in general. But we also had the opportunity to speak about something very near and dear to our hearts: preserving the languages of our peoples.
As an Inupiaq, it has been incredibly sad to watch as our spoken word has faded from one generation to the next. Because Alaska Native languages were not written languages, many of the dialects have been lost forever. There are efforts underway to encourage the next generation to learn from their ancestors and give the gift of their people on to their children.
House Bill 216 is a bill our office has along with Representative Jonathan Kreiss—Tomkins. It would make more than twenty Alaska Native languages the official language of the state. Though this is symbolic (there will be no requirements to print documents in these languages for instance) it is an important step towards recognizing the original peoples of this beautiful land.
Resolution for KTUU and GCI
It was great to hear that two fantastic Alaskan companies have reached a resolution just in time for the Winter Olympics. Rural parts of Alaska will begin to receive GCI signals starting today. Juneau and other southeastern communities will have the signal starting Monday.
District 24 Events
Mark your calendars for PTA meetings this week. Service High will have its PTA meeting on Tuesday, February 11th at 6:00pm. Kasuun Elementary will have its PTA meeting on the same day, Tuesday, February 11th at 6:30pm.
High School Debate Drama and Forensics Championship
This is just a reminder that next week from February 13th-15th East High will host the state’s debate, drama and forensics championship. Organized by the UAA Seawolf Speech and Debate Team, the public is invited to see some of our very best orators, debaters, actors and artists.
admin @ February 7, 2014
Anchorage Caucus and Constituent Meeting
We wish to extend a tremendous thanks to all those members of the public who took the time to attend the Anchorage Caucus public hearing. Over three hundred residents of Anchorage came to the Assembly Chambers of the Loussac Library on Saturday, January 11th to voice their concern on matter important to them. Topics such as education, infrastructure, gas line developments, legislation affecting individuals with disabilities and many others were shared with the more than twenty members of the Anchorage Legislative Caucus. The Caucus consists of all state lawmakers, of both parties and both legislative bodies, whose district is within the Municipality of Anchorage.
Special thanks go to the students of Mr. Tarbath’s AP Economics class as Robert Service High School. They kicked off the hearing with a sophisticated presentation on retirement systems. Watching these young ladies and gentlemen speak so eloquently on such a complicated topic before so many people shows how bright the future of our community is.
Traditionally, the Caucus has a mid-session hearing sometime in February. But our office as well as our Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Chris Tuck found that many residents wanted to give their views to their legislators before session started. There will also be a mid-session hearing on March 1st.
After the Caucus hearing, a constituent meeting was held for residents of District 24 with both our office and Senator Kevin Meyer’s. We had the opportunity to hear from Larry Persily, the federal government’s pipeline coordinator for the state of Alaska. Mr. Persily was presenting the process of how Alaskan gas can get to market. We also heard Jim Amundsen from the Alaska Department of Transportation. He gave an overview of the major road projects affecting the district and Anchorage as a whole. Thank you to all the constituents who attended.
If you have views you wish to share, please don’t wait for an Anchorage Caucus public hearing or our next constituent meeting. Feel free to contact our office at any time: call 465-3879 or email us at Representative.Charisse.Millett@akleg.gov
Kickoff to the Legislative Session:
It’s hard to believe that the second session of the 28th Alaska Legislature is already kicking into high gear. There are a lot of issues and bills that are going to be considered. The beginning of session also marks the time when many constituents fly into Juneau with all sorts of groups. Our office is fortunate to be the legislative member for the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education. The Council held its meeting in Juneau, and then spent several days visiting the offices of their local legislators.
That is another really great part of being on the Council; we have several constituents who are members either on the Council or who serve as staff.
The big push for the Council this year includes supporting two bills our office has filed. One is House Bill 210, which relates to the safety of students in schools. The other bill is House Bill 211, which is designed to get individuals with disabilities gainfully employed. To learn more about either of these bills, please feel free to contact our office at 465-3879 or email us at Representative.Charisse.Millett@akleg.gov
Special Note to Constituents Coming to Juneau for Session
We truly appreciate when residents of District 24 make it down to Juneau to express views important to them. If you plan on flying down for the session, please call our office so that we have an opportunity to meet with you in person, arrange for a tour of the Capitol building, and be the best hosts we can on your trip. You can reach us at 465-3879 or you can email us either at Representative.Charisse.Millett@akleg.gov or Sarah.Metheny@akleg.gov
District 24 School News:
Abbott Loop Elementary Spaghetti Feed and Silent Auction
Bring your appetites on February 22nd to Abbott Loop Elementary School. From 5:30-7:30pm, you can have dinner and bid on donated items in the school’s PTA silent auction. All proceeds from this event will go to the Abbott Loop Elementary PTA. This is a wonderful opportunity to support one of our local schools.
The Abbott Loop Elementary PTA welcomes volunteers to dish out these delicious dishes. Donated items for the silent auction are also welcome. To learn more, please contact the PTA at firstname.lastname@example.org
PTA Meetings for February
PTA meetings in District 24 for the month of February are as follows:
Hanshew Middle School PTA will meet February 3rd at 3:45pm
Abbott Loop Elementary School PTA will meet February 4th at 7:00pm
Trailside Elementary School PTA will meet February 6th at 3:45pm
Service High School PTA will meet February 11th at 6:00pm
Kasuun Elementary School PTA will meet February 11th at 6:30pm
High School Sports and Activities
Service Dominates Chugiak in Hockey
The Cougar boys hockey team brought a strong show of force against Chugiak this past Saturday, winning 4-2. Congratulations to Tyler Miknich, who was a key playmaker in the successful offensive drives. There are only a few games left before the state championships in February. If you want to cheer on your Cougars as they go for the state title, mark your calendars: the state championship tournament will be held from February 13th-15th at the Curtis Menard Sports Complex in Wasilla.
Service Boys Hoops Overwhelms Eagle River
Thank goodness there are so many prep sports going on after the holidays to keep us enthralled. The Service boys varsity basketball team sure deliver on that count, even when they have to travel to our neighbors out in Eagle River to do it. This past Saturday, visiting Service took a win from Eagle River High School 69-53. Reece Robinson and Ihro Raguindin contributed to the win with 20 and 15 points respectively. With performances like this, we can expect to see a dominant force all the way to the state championships in March.
High School Debate, Drama and Forensics State Championship
Though it’s several weeks off, there are a lot of events vying for time and the high school DDF competitors really deserve our attention. From February 13th-15th, East High School will host the best actors, debaters and orators our state’s youth has. If you have a background in the performing arts or forensics, we ask you to please consider offering your services as a judge. But if you simply wish to appreciate the talent and hard work of these young women and men, we wholeheartedly encourage you to attend. The University of Alaska Anchorage’s world ranked debate program is organizing this event. To learn more or to volunteer, please contact the UAA Speech and Debate Director Steve Johnson at email@example.com or Assistant Coach Amie Stanley at firstname.lastname@example.org
admin @ January 29, 2014
PNWER Legislative Leadership Academy and Economic Forum
This week a group of Alaska legislators from the house and senate joined their colleagues from other states and Canadian provinces in Alberta. The event was hosted by the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, or PNWER. This particular forum focused on energy issues and specifically energy deliverability and crisis management. Officials from Alberta were particularly insightful on this matter, having dealt with the tremendous flooding in the province earlier this year.
Part of the success of PNWER events is the focus on a format that has working groups made up of different experts and legislators to openly and freely exchange ideas. The working group at the forum was hosted by my good friend Montana Senator Cliff Larsen and myself. There is a growing collaborative effort amongst other legislatures in the United States and Canada to create an advanced system of reciprocating licenses and certificates. This would enable highly skilled workers to cross the borders of provinces and even countries if they are in demand. For harsher climates with pressing needs and not an abundant supply of technicians, this can make an enormous difference.
The keynote address by Dr. Ian Brodie of the University of Calgary was a telling recounting of the historical ties between Canada and the United States. Next year will be the 200th anniversary of peaceful relations between us and our Canadian neighbors. Dr. Brodie was very insightful into how Canada both is at times frustrated and amazed at the ability of the United States to transform its political system.
Pick, Click Give
Mark your calendar: January 1st is right around the corner! Please show your love for Alaska by supporting the charitable activities that enrich our quality of life. Starting January 1st, we can give a little (or all) of our Permanent Fund Dividend to over 500 of our favorite causes when we apply online. There is something for everyone. Search by issue, hometown, or simply start typing the name of the non-profit you wish to support. Pick. Click. Give. is a uniquely Alaskan way to give back to the place we call home.
Make a Wish Turns San Francisco into Gotham
By now you have probably already seen this. But it is amazing and worthwhile to share. Last week, the city of San Francisco banded together to become Gotham City for a day. This was done not to promote a new movie for Christian Bale, but to make the wish of a 5 year old leukemia survivor named Miles Scott. Miles has battled the cancer since he was almost two, and as of this summer his leukemia is in remission. With the help of the Make a Wish Foundation, Miles celebrated in a big way.
With the help of Batman, Miles got to be Batkid for the day, and they had a full schedule. Stopping the Penguin and the Riddler, saving a kidnapped woman and the mascot for the Dan Francisco Giants, and foiling the robbery of some precious jewels made for some excitement. What was so wonderful was how the city, the police and public officials and countless volunteers pitched in. They worked together to celebrate the tenacity and courage of this brave little guy.
The Arc of Anchorage Opens Five Homes in Five Years
New Home Opening in District 24
Five years ago, the Arc of Anchorage began a really ambitious project. Having made accessible housing for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities a priority, the Arc and its partners decided it was going to build five homes in five years. Instead of purchasing a home and remodeling it to meet the needs of its residents, the Arc partnered with local businesses, the Rasmuson Foundation, the NeighborWorks and the Municipality of Anchorage to build the homes.
Tonight, an open house is scheduled for 5:30 at the newest residence for Arc clients. With wide hallways, restrooms that are completely accessible regardless of the level of disability, and an open floor plan truly enhance the quality of life for the residents of these homes.
If you would like to know more about how to work with the Arc of Anchorage, or if you wish to see these wonderful new homes, please contact the Arc at 777-0340.
District 24 School Events
Kasuun Elementary Asking for Classroom Volunteers
Kasuun Elementary is asking for volunteers to assist teachers in their classroom. The type of activities one would do include reading with students as well as applying their various skills in small group settings. If you have a background in science or engineering or even mathematics, you could be asked to help in the lessons for STEM subjects with classroom teachers. Letting the homeroom teachers know your background can be very helpful in using your professional skills and interests to integrate them into a lesson plan.
You do not need to have a college degree in order to help, nor do you need to be a parent for a Kasuun student. All that is required is your photo id and a willingness to help out in your community. If you are interested in making a difference in helping teachers and students at Kasuun, please contact the school at 349-9444
Service Cross Country Ski Team
After a slow start to their season due to a lack of snowfall, the Cougar ski teams are raring to go hit the trails. On December 7th, Service will host its first race on the best trails in Anchorage. Please join us in getting out and supporting these incredible athletes.
If you are unable to make it to the races, there is another way to show your enthusiasm for this awesome program. If you take your quality used sports and fitness equipment to Play It Again Sports on Spenard, you can contribute to the cross country ski program. Simply let the wonderful staff there know you are donating these items to the Service XC Ski Booster Club. Proceeds from those donations will go help these young women and men on the trails. Not only do you get a tax deduction as well as a coupon for the next time you shop at Play It Again Sports, you will also have more room in your garage and home!
The Service XC Ski Team will also be helping you with waxing your skis this Saturday in the cafeteria. From 11-3, you can attend a free wax clinic. This will include proper wax removal and applying techniques, as well as which waxes are for which temperatures.
Come see some future kingpins as they take on Eagle River today at 3:15pm at Jewel Lake Bowl. The Service rollers and bashers then face Chugiak at Center Bowl on December 5th at 3:15pm.
Service Drama Club
Come see how the arts are alive and thriving thanks to the talented members of the Service theater community. Next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the Service Drama Club will be putting on a performance of David and Lisa, Each night the play will begin at 7:00pm in the school theater. Tickets are 5 dollars at the door.
admin @ November 21, 2013
Joint Judiciary Committee Hearing in Fairbanks
As we shared with you earlier this year, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees have held a series of hearings dealing with the corrections budget as well as sentencing guidelines. What is generating this discussion is the numbers: Alaska’s budget for incarcerating individuals has gone up substantially over the last ten years, as has the prison population. At the current rate of incarceration, the Goose Creek Corrections Center, which has not even opened, would be at capacity by 2016.Even more startling is the percentage of non-violent offenders who are jailed, which is well over half the prison population.
Yesterday in Fairbanks, we heard from individuals representing South Dakota and Montana. These states contend with alcohol related crimes and a growing costs towards imprisoning convicts. The success that South Dakota has had in terms of reducing the amount of alcohol repeated offenses has been remarkable and something Alaska can learn from. With finite public resources, the priority in public safety needs to go towards violent criminals that harm others, especially the vulnerable. While not endorsing a culture of addiction, treating it in a way that gives people who have made mistakes a chance to reenter society as productive members is good for communities and a sensible investment.
Senator John Coghill’s Senate Bill 64, which would restructure sentencing guidelines, is one possible solution. You can read the text of the bill as well as the sponsor statement by clicking on the lick below. If you have any questions about this bill or the work of the judiciary community, please contact our office at 269-0222 or Representative.Charisse.Millett@akleg.gov
Education Summit in Boston
Earlier in October we had a wonderful opportunity to attend an education summit in Boston. Hosted by Governor Jeb Bush and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, this year’s event brought over 1,000 participants from across the United States and the world. We had the opportunity to hear from Governor Bush as well as former United States Solicitor General Ted Olson, former United States Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on how they see changes to the United States’ education system.
In the work groups there are some exciting developments in rolling out educational opportunities to all kids regardless of distance and other obstacles. The head of EdX showed how students anywhere in the world can take world class courses from schools such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mozilla is working on a new open badges concept that gives a diverse choice in courses for children and adults to continue to take courses that are endorsed by employers such as Lockheed Martin or educational institutions.
The great takeaway is that there are many brilliant and earnest people that are coming together to help craft an education system for the 21st century. That means rethinking how education is delivered and how technology can be a critical component to providing equal opportunities for students to succeed. It also means collaborating with other states to get their perspective. Now, more than ever, our country is a series of laboratories that are finding innovative solutions to making our schools the best in the world. Alaska can be at the forefront of this.
Graduating from the PNWER LEHI Institute
The Pacific Northwest Economic Region, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the University of Idaho and the United States Department of Energy created the Energy Horizons’ Institute. It is designed to teach legislators in energy infrastructure and energy deliverability. Looking into bringing cost effective and stable energy to Alaskan communities requires understanding how different energy sources are developed and brought into towns.
The Institute delved into topics that included the challenges of installing transmission lines, the costs of power generation, the ability to integrate regional grids, and power consolidation and cost streamlining. The goal is for legislators from around the country to learn from these experts in the energy field and each other, absorb that institutional knowledge, and contribute to the crafting of implementing their state’s energy policy.
Along with Representative Chris Tuck, our Alaska delegation graduated from the LEHI Horizons Institute in Washington D.C. It was a fantastic and enriching experience for us to learn the technical, legal, political and financial considerations to any energy related project in our state.
House Education Taskforce
As of this writing, the House Taskforce on Sustainable Education is meeting for the third time. On this occasion, we are holding hearings with the House Finance Subcommittee for the Department of Education and Early Development. Yesterday we heard from Education Commissioner Mike Hanley and his Deputies about how schools are funded, built and maintained.
This morning we heard from Gerry Kovey, a member of the Taskforce and a former Superintendent of a school district, as well as a former Education Commissioner. Mr. Kovey gave a presentation on the use of residential schools throughout Alaska, its history and how it is being implemented today.
Working on this project with both members of the public as well as the legislature has been really rewarding. This is an opportunity to listen and to absorb the tremendous amount of information related to the challenges school districts throughout Alaska face, and understanding what is the state’s role in that picture.
The Taskforce plans on meeting for one more set of hearings before the beginning of the legislative session. As always, we welcome your insights into the issue of education. Please contact our office if there is something you want the Taskforce to consider.
District 24 Schools and Activities Updates:
This week Service High School is hosting the Cook Inlet Conference Volleyball Tournament. From November 5th-9th you can watch the best teams in south-central Alaska compete against each other in a double elimination setting. Come cheer on our Lady Cougars. Tickets are just $5. And next week will be the Alaska State Volleyball Championships hosted at Chugiak High School, from November 14th-16th. To learn about when Service is playing these next two weeks, please contact our office or Service High School 742-8100.
Don’t forget if you have a child attending any of the neighborhood schools in District 24 there is a Parent Teacher Association that meets monthly. The upcoming meeting schedule for November is below:
Trailside Elementary will meet November 7th from 3:45pm-4:45pm
Kasuun Elementary will meet November 12th from 6:30pm-7:30pm
Abbott Loop Elementary will meet November 12th from 7:00pm-8:00pm
Service High will meet November 12th from 6:00pm-7:00pm
admin @ November 5, 2013