I thought I’d send along an update now that we’ve settled into our new Capitol office (we are now in Room 204) and back into Juneau. Today is the 7th day of session, and we have lots of work ahead of us. Let me update you on a few of the issues that we have been addressing in these first days.
This year I have the honor of serving on the House Judiciary Committee; Economic Development, Tourism and Arctic Policy Committee; Ethics Committee; Transportation Committee; and Fisheries Committee. I look forward, as these committees are beginning to meet, to thoroughly vet all legislation that passes through, and prioritize fiscal responsibility and meeting the needs of Alaska’s communities. My office will continue to keep you posted as session continues regarding the topics and actions of these committees.
With the price of oil so steeply declining, my colleagues and I anticipated that much of our session would be spent looking for ways to reduce our operating and capital budgets, and stemming our state’s deficit. So, it was no surprise that on Day 3 of this session, as the Governor delivered his State of the Budget speech, we received budget summaries from the administration with marked cuts in nearly every area of the state. The Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Budget, which amounts to approximately $13 Billion, represents a 5.3% reduction from the previous year. One of my top priorities this session, during the Legislature’s budget process, is to make sure that we balance finding government efficiencies and reductions with protecting our economy.
Interestingly enough, today, January 26th, marks the 56th anniversary of the very first day of the State Legislature’s regular session. The Legislature convened just three weeks after President Eisenhower signed the Statehood Proclamation. Check out this website that has chronicled the beginning of each legislative session, both as a territory and a state.
This session, I am sponsoring legislation ranging from empowering our children to protect themselves from sexual assault, to providing medical coverage for the spouses and children of state employees who have died in the line of duty. I will keep you posted as these pieces of legislation move through the legislative process.
BP Teachers of Excellence
Do you know a teacher in your child’s school or community that deserves recognition? BP is accepting nominations for their Teachers of Excellence program until January 30th. Winning teachers receive $500 and a matching $500 grant for their school. One teacher is named the BP Teacher of the Year, and receives a $1,500 scholarship for continuing education.
Just a quick reminder – now that we are back in Juneau, my toll-free number is available if you need to get in contact with my office. That number is 888-269-3879. As always you can reach us in the office at 907-465-3879, and by emailing Rep.Charisse.Millett@akleg.gov.
Until next time,
admin @ January 26, 2015
I just wanted to provide a little information for all of you before the long holiday weekend.
This month I was honored by my colleagues to serve as House Majority Leader for the 29th session of the Alaska Legislature. Legislative leadership is challenging and tremendously rewarding at the same time. My staff and I are committed to meeting and exceeding the expectations placed on us.
My committee assignments include House Chair of the Legislative Ethics Committee, Judiciary, Transportation, Legislative Council, Economic Development, Tourism and Trade and Fisheries.
Anchorage legislators will hold a pre-session hearing of the Anchorage Caucus on Saturday, January 10 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Assembly Chambers at the Loussac Library. After brief presentations from Mayor Dan Sullivan’s office and the Anchorage School District, public comment will begin around 9:30 a.m.
We want you your ideas on how to address education funding, transportation, public safety and whatever else is on your mind. When you arrive make sure to sign in if you wish to testify and be patient because we expect a full house.
Sustainable Education Task Force
The Alaska Legislature’s Sustainable Education Task Force has spent the past 18 months studying Alaska’s educational system with the goal of making recommendations to the Alaska Legislature before it convenes in January. The final meeting will be held Monday, December 29 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Anchorage LIO at 733 W 4th Avenue.
Public comment will be taken near the end of the meeting. You can also watch online at http://www.alaskalegislature.tv/
We will relocate to Juneau in early January but before we do we want to hear your ideas for legislation or anything else. Sent your ideas to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Before we go here is a link to a special holiday video message from me to you and your family http://vimeo.com/115310111
admin @ December 23, 2014
Open House for East 64th Avenue Road Project
East 64th Avenue in between Laurel Street and Norm Drive is being renovated and upgraded. This project was in response to the issues many neighbors in the area faced with regard to proper drainage, snow removal, and pedestrian safety. The upgrades will bring sidewalks, new street lighting and much better drainage to the road and surrounding area.
The second open house on the design phase for this project will happen Wednesday, October 15th, from 6:00pm-8:00pm at the Northern Lights ABC School, located at 2424 East Dowling Road. This will be an opportunity to meet with the design team, view graphics of the project, and ask any questions you would like answered related to these upgrades.
To know more about the project and this event, please contact Jessica Smith from CRW Engineering, at 644-5610. You can also email questions to email@example.com
Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education
The October meeting for the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education happened this week. We had to begin with some bittersweet news. Teresa Holt, the Council’s Executive Director, has accepted a position with the Ombudsman’s office and is leaving her position. Though we are immensely happy for Teresa and excited for this opportunity, the Council has some big shoes to fill. Teresa was instrumental in coordinating and assisting our office and that of many other legislators with legislation such as making Alaska an Employment First State. Good luck Teresa!
admin @ October 3, 2014
September is Emergency Preparedness Month
The American Red Cross wants to let you know that September is Emergency Preparedness Month. Though to some of us it might seem like forever ago, it has been only two years since that massive fall windstorm knocked out power to parts of the district for days. We might be in Alaska’s biggest city, but the weather will let us know that we are still part of Alaska. Self-reliance is a huge necessity. Below is a link to the Red Cross’ Emergency Checklist. Having these items goes a long way towards making any interruptions in our life less troublesome.
District 24 Updates
Abbott Loop PTA and Open House
Come tonight from 6:30pm-8:00pm to meet the Principal and education team at Abbott Loop Elementary, as well as its first PTA meeting of the school year.
Hanshew PTA Meeting Monday
The Hanshew Middle School PTA will be meeting from 4:00pm-5:00pm in the library.
admin @ September 12, 2014
Hope Community Resources Appreciation Luncheon
Hope Community Resources, which began as a single house providing a non-institutionalized life for people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 1968, celebrated its annual appreciation luncheon. If you haven’t been to this event, you are missing out on the opportunity to see the tremendous good work that is being done all over the state by hard workings, dedicated and loving professionals.
Honorees included Bryan Merculief. Bryan grew up on St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands. As a young man with a disability, Bryan experienced certain challenges unique to living in remote Alaska. After spending several years at Hope’s Willow homestead, however, he blossomed into a leader. He developed some incredibly useful skills to living a self-sufficient rural life. He volunteers for all events, and is the first one to come and the last one to leave. Bryan is a fantastic example of what it means to be a great human being, and was honored with Hope’s Journey Awards. We wish him all the love and support as he continues this journey which cannot help but motivate us as well.
Other honorees included businesses such as Century 16 Theaters, Bradley Reid and Associates, as well as Bella Boutique, for being such strong supporters to Hope and their mission. Whether it was gainfully employing an individual with a disability, providing a Christmas for a client family in need, or donating tremendous amounts of personal time to volunteer for events, these businesses and the people within them are strong pillars of community support.
This year also marked the final luncheon for Steve Lesko as Executive Director for Hope. After thirty-seven years, Steve is taking some time for himself and his family. We know Steve all too well thanks to his tireless work with the Key Campaign and the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education. However is replacing him has gigantic shoes to step into.
Service and Hanshew Open Houses Kick Off School Year
It was so much fun to get together to start the school year in our district’s middle and high school. With Senator Kevin Meyer in tow, we got to meet the fantastic teachers, coaches and principals for Service High and Hanshew. There’s a lot of excitement amongst freshmen Cougars and Hawks starting their middle school careers, finding out all the amazing extracurricular activities available to them. Though the weather was drizzly, it was perfect for an indoor event brining everyone together to talk about the upcoming dances, cross-country meets and football schedules. Big thanks go out to Principal Gaskins at Service and Principal Nancy Brain at Hanshew for being our masters of ceremony.
Service Destroys South in Flag Football
Our Lady Cougars proved their prowess on the gridiron just as much as that of the boys, trouncing the South Wolverines 39-13 in yesterday’s flag football game. Big congratulations to Julia Miknich with that cannon of an arm, helping her team win hillside bragging rights once again.
After a nail biting loss to the West High Eagles last week, the Service Cougars football team are in for an epic showdown against Bartlett on Saturday. Bartlett has been hyped up because of their program’s rebuilding efforts, and they should definitely be commended for that. However, it is time to knock the current No. 1 seed in the conference down a few notches. Grab your green and gold, and bring some warm clothes to better enjoy this perfect fall football weather.
admin @ September 5, 2014
Back To School Week
Well, it had to end eventually. We had a wonderful summer, but now it is time for children and parents to head back to school. The first day of classes was this Wednesday. You may have noticed a change in your morning commute with lines of bustling young people in backpacks walking on the sidewalks and school buses driving through your neighborhood.
Please use caution when driving both in the morning and in the afternoon. Remember that there are school safety zones to protect students, teachers and chaperones walking and biking to school. If you need to find a different route to not be caught in the before and after school traffic, now is a great time to do so. The main thoroughfares which experience school zone speed limits are Abbott Road (Service High and Trailside Elementary), East 68th Avenue (Kasuun Elementary), East 84th Avenue and Lake Otis Parkway (Abbott Loop Elementary) and Laurel Street before Dowling (Northern Lights ABC).
Don’t forget please that kids are really excited to go to school, and, especially the littler ones, may not always pay attention to traffic. We have to be extra careful to make sure the school year kicks off on the right foot.
Service High Football Returns
The Cougars started their path to a state title this past Saturday in dramatic fashion. With defensive play and old school grinding it out for yards, Service moved past the Wasilla Warriors 14-6 at the Service High Stadium. The crowd on the home side was completely full, and they cheerfully, but forcefully, reminded Wasilla that it was the visiting team.
With such consistent play, the Cougars are off to a great start. They will need to keep the momentum up, however, when they play Eagle River at 4:00pm on Saturday. That game will take place at Bartlett High. Get your green and gold out and help root for our boys as they continue to roll over the competition! For home games, the booster club has its store with fantastic Service gear to buy and represent your local school team. Proceeds go to the booster club and supporting the program.
admin @ August 22, 2014
Service High Football Season Kick Off Tomorrow
Finally, Service High has a field to call its own for football, flag football, soccer, as well as track and field events. Having a home stadium isn’t just a morale booster that further binds our neighborhoods together. The concession stand at Service will be an important tool to raise funds for our athletic programs for years to come, having a direct impact on student support.
Tomorrow, the Service High Football program will face off in its inaugural home game against Wasilla. The C Team and Junior Varsity Cougars will be playing earlier in the afternoon, with BBQ available most of the day. At 6:00, the kickoff for the varsity showdown and the path to a 2014 state championship begins. Please come out, dress warm and in your green and gold!
Greek Festival on the Hillside
For twenty years, the Anchorage Greek community has hosted an annual weekend celebrating their culture at the Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church. This Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be a weekend filled with live Greek music and dancing, gyros and other traditional grilled, baked and sauteed meals. There are literally dozens of types of handmade sweets in the bakery to go along with your coffee.
Admission is free, but all proceeds from the event go towards the parish council building fund. Thirty years of effort have paid off with the Greek-Alaskan community having completed what is the northernmost Greek Orthodox Church in the world. Take a tour of the newly opened church from the parish priest, who will explain the intricate free hand artwork of the iconography, as well as the history of the Greek community in the last frontier.
The Greek Festival opens at 11:00am Friday-Saturday-Sunday, and lasts until 10:00pm Friday-Saturday and 7:00pm Sunday.
admin @ August 15, 2014
Learn How to Be Safe with the Police
As family members of someone who experiences Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) knows, communication is key. We are all unique, and understanding that some of us see the world differently makes a crucial difference in preventing conflict and promoting healthy relationships. This is especially true when coming into contact with law enforcement. Police officers are constantly on alert to prevent being surprised by an attack; as this year’s tragic loss of two Alaska State Troopers makes clear, this concern is real. But just as important as protecting an officer is making sure that a person is treated respectfully and correctly because of a potential disorder they may experience.
Police departments around the state are making a real effort to educate their staff on recognizing the different types of disorders that members of the community may experience. Knowing whether a person is being aggressive or simply working through the emotions of an uncomfortable situation can make all the difference for both law enforcement and the individuals with whom they are interacting.
This Monday, the Autism Society of Alaska is hosting an event at the BP Energy Center with members of the Anchorage Police Department and Emily Illand, who is the lead autism trainer for the Los Angeles Police Department. They will work with family members, care providers, friends, and of course individuals who experience ASD on how to interact safely with law enforcement. This is also a great opportunity to meet some of the women and men who serve and protect our city every day.
The event will be from 5:30-8:30 on Monday, August 11th, at the BP Energy Center, located at 900 East Benson Boulevard. To register, please go to www.asagoldenheart.org
Council of State Governments Annual Summit in Anchorage
For the next week, you may see a lot more people than the usual tourist season swell. That is because public policy makers from around the country have come to Alaska for the annual summit for the Council of State Governments, or CSG. Organizations such as this have been responsible for people across the country coming together, and sharing ideas and solutions to common challenges. Many great developments at the national, state and local level have come out of events such as this.
Over 1,400 attendees are expected, which will bring another boost to our local economy. We look forward to showing what our state has to offer when our visitors are done with their conference duties for the day. If you are downtown, or mid-town, on the Coastal Trail, or in the parks, feel free to bother these nice folk who are so excited to come to the last frontier.
admin @ August 8, 2014
House Bill 210 Signed by Governor Parnell
Last week, Governor Parnell signed into law one of the priorities for the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education. House Bill 210 was a bill that our office worked for over a year on with advocacy groups in the community as well as educators and parents. With this new law, Alaska now has statewide standards on when a student would be restrained or secluded in school. Before, different standards in different districts led to inconsistent practices, traumatizing students, parents and educators.
Now, students may only be restrained or secluded if they pose an imminent harm to themselves or others. Parents need to be notified the day any restraint or seclusion occurs. House Bill 210 built on the work the larger school districts in Alaska have implemented. We strengthen our communities by having consistent, safe standards across the state.
This was only an achievement possible through incredible collaboration with the fantastic self-advocates, their parents or guardians, educators, Department of Education staff, and of course the amazing people at the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education.
Below is a link to the news story by Adam Pinsker that was aired on KTUU.
Anchorage Parks Foundation Putting High School Students to Work on Your Trails
If you have walked any of our fantastic trails in and around the Hillside, you probably have been over ground that was worked on by some dedicated young adults. The Anchorage Park Foundation is once again conducting its Youth Employment in Parks Program. It is a great opportunity for high school aged students to have a job working on projects that include resurfacing trails, rehabilitating the soil conditions, landscaping as well as stream and habitat restoration.
Below is a video from the work that these young women and men have done in Ruth Arcand Park earlier this month. If you see them on the trails or in your parks this summer, please ask them about their experience and the job skills they are developing by making our summers that much more enjoyable.
admin @ July 25, 2014
House Bill 116 Signed Into Law
For two years, our office worked with the fine members of the Public Safety Employees Association on a bill honoring our veterans who chose a career of protecting the public. This week, all that hard work really paid off. House Bill 116, which passed the House and Senate unanimously with most members becoming co-sponsors, was signed into law by Governor Parnell. The bill applies to public safety employees who are members of Alaska’s defined benefit program and who served in the United States military. Those public safety workers who wish to retire up to five years earlier with medical coverage can now purchase that time. Because the employee is bearing the full cost, there is no further liability to the state.
This was a prime example working together on an outcome that was best for Alaska. Protecting the public on the street or on the fire ladder is a young person’s career. The older one becomes, the more likely they are to be injured on the job. By purchasing their time, these women and men can leave state service, having already served their country, with a dignified full retirement. Realizing the state’s unfunded liability is a serious issue, the employees association were willing to ensure Alaska’s fiscal outlook improve by offering this cost saving measure. Nearly a week after Independence Day, it was moving that we could in some small way say thank you to those who dedicate their lives to our country, our state, and our communities.
KTBY did a fantastic job covering the signing ceremony. Please click on the link to see the story by Gretchen Parsons. http://www.youralaskalink.com/news/Bill-Rewards-Retired-Military-Personal-and-Public-Safety-Employees-266707331.html
Open House for Viburnum-Oakwood-Burlwood Roads Project
Construction is beginning on Viburnum, Oakwood and Burlwood at last. This Monday, the project team will be hosting an open house to answer questions about how the process will go, what is the timeline for completion, and to be available for anything you wish to know. The open house will be at the Independent Baptist Church of Anchorage, located at 1801 East 68th Avenue, from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm. For more information, please contact Anne Brooks, the Public Involvement Coordinator for the project, at 272-1877. You can also reach Ms. Brooks by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
admin @ July 11, 2014