Friends and neighbors,
We are back with another edition of our blog where we reach out to all of you back home about our efforts to formulate a state budget plan that protects vital services with the least possible financial impact on your family. This week we proudly moved legislation to fight the scourge of opioid drug addiction and an update on our multiyear effort to assist the families of fallen public safety officers.
Preventing Opioid Addiction
The House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed House Bill 24 on Wednesday. It outlaws U-47700, a new and deadly form of synthetic heroin that is more commonly known by the street name “pink.” The bill adds it to the state’s list of schedule 1A drugs, substances that have no legitimate medical use, are addictive and pose an immediate public threat.
To call U-47700 deadly is an understatement. It can be up to 800 percent more potent than traditional heroin so even touching it can be fatal. It was a factor in the deaths of three Alaskans and at least 46 people are known to have died from it in the Lower 48. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration believes it is made in overseas labs under conditions that make using it extremely dangerous.
HB 24 has broad support from medical, law enforcement, legal and substance abuse treatment organizations. It now goes to the House Finance Committee for its consideration.
Critical Benefits for the Families of Fallen Officers
Our hearts were full this week after hearing over an hour of passionate testimony in the House Finance Committee on the incredible need for health coverage for the families of public safety officers who have died in the line of duty, House Bill 23. The plan before the Legislature currently would allow surviving dependents of fallen officers to retain their health coverage and continue to receive care until a “change of status” occurs. In the heartfelt testimony, families of fallen troopers, as well as active officers and their families reminded the committee that t is the least our state can do for those who put their lives on the line, to allow them to focus on their job and their duty, instead of worrying about whether they really want to enter a dangerous situation – whether their family will be taken care of were the worst to occur.
This piece of legislation will be brought before the House Finance Committee again this coming week, and we will keep you posted as it moves through the process.
Our House Republican Caucus webpage is now live. My colleagues and I post our legislation, photos, biographical information and much more. Check back often because we are always updating it. Go to: http://alaskahouserepublicans.org/
Based on the number of high school students playing basketball, it is Alaska’s number one prep sport. The Cougar basketball teams are in the final few weeks of the regular season with some great matchups still on the schedule. Home teams are in bold.
February 3 (TONIGHT) – West vs Service @ 7:30 p.m.
February 7 – East vs. Service @ 7:30 p.m.
February 3 (TONIGHT) – West vs. Service @ 6:00 p.m.
February 7 – East vs. Service @ 6:00 p.m.
The Classic Relay event on Saturday, February 11 sends the Service cross country ski team to Russian Jack Park for races against the other seven Cook Inlet Conference teams. Last but not least, the Service Debate, Drama and Forensics team is preparing for the state event February 23 and 24 at East High School.
Parents should know that the Anchorage School District will be administering the 2017 School Climate and Connectedness Survey to all staff and students in grades 3-12 from February 13 to the 24. The survey seeks to learn what students think about school safety, student involvement and other issues. The survey is confidential, voluntary and anonymous. It does not ask students any questions about their family. Check out a sample survey at this link: http://www.asdk12.org/ae/surveys/schoolclimateandconnectednesssurvey/ if you wish to opt your child out of the survey notify her or his school in writing.
On Monday the Anchorage School Board will hold its regular meeting at 7:00 p.m. at ASD Headquarters, 5530 E Northern Lights Blvd. Read the agenda for details of the meeting.
Have a Heart
Someone dies from cardiovascular disease every 40 seconds, making it the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. The most current estimates for both heart disease and stroke put the cost for health care and lost productivity at a staggering $312.6 billion. To promote a heart healthy lifestyle the American Heart Association recognizes every February as National Heart Month to educate and promote lifestyle changes that lower the risk of developing heart disease. The association strongly recommends everyone who has not done so to take a CPR class, and if it has been years since your last training a refresher course is highly recommended. Many organizations and businesses offer CPR training in the Anchorage area and can be found by an online search for a class near you.
For more information on preventing heart disease, go to the American Heart Association web site at: www.heart.org
Alaska ABLE Plan
The Alaska Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) plan allows Alaskans with disabilities and their families the ability to open investment accounts and save money for their disability related expenses. Patterned after 529 college savings programs, money can be saved without losing eligibility for certain public assistance programs. The ABLE program was created by the legislature last year to ease the financial burdensdisabled Alaskans and their families face every day. Click here and here to read the flyer and go to the website at https://savewithable.com/ak/home.html to sign up.
Before we go, watch for our annual session newsletter hitting mailboxes later this month with more news from Juneau.
Lots of sun is forecast this weekend so get out and enjoy it!