Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
Can you believe fall is already here? The kids are back in the classroom and the trees are quickly turning yellow and gold. This week we have details on how young people can learn the ins and outs of law enforcement and we say hello to the new principal at Service High School.
APD Youth Academy
Is your son or daughter interested in a law enforcement career? The Anchorage Police Department is holding its Pathway to Policing Youth Academy for high school juniors and seniors from October 26th to the 28th at Anchorage School District Headquarters and the Anchorage Police Department Training Academy. The 20 hour program immerses students in what police officers actually do and the career opportunities that are available for qualified men and women.
Students will not miss any classes because the academy is scheduled during the district’s half days and in-service days. No more than 30 slots are available and will be filled on a first come first served basis. The application form is due Monday, September 19.
For more information, contact Jennifer Castro at 786-8571.
We want to extend a big welcome to new Service High School Principal Frank Hauser! Service has a long history of great principals and we know Mr. Hauser will continue that tradition during his tenure at Service.
Football season is in high gear and the Cougars are fielding two teams with great student athletes. The boys and girls teams are visiting Dimond on Saturday where the Lady Cougars will kick off at noon and the boys take to the field two hours later. We will keep you up to date on as many Service athletic teams as possible throughout the school year. If anyone has some information to share with us about the student athletes please send it our way at email@example.com
Abbott Road Project Update
Abbott Road between Elmore and Sahalee Drive will be CLOSED starting tonight, Friday, September 16 from 8:00 p.m. through 5:00 a.m. Monday, September 19. Access to Carlson Road and Jupiter Drive will be maintained during the closure, just keep an eye for the detour signs.
If you would like to receive email updates on the Abbott Road rehabilitation project, just send an email to AbbottRoad@spawnak.com
We will be back next time with how the school year is shaping up and lots more community news. As always, we are happy to include any information that comes our way so just give us a call at 269-0222.
Our office wanted to update you on Governor Walker’s recent announcement of vetoes to the Fiscal Year 2017 compromise budget. Before approving the operating and capital budgets for the state, the Governor made significant reductions to items including K-12 education, the University of Alaska, and the Department of Corrections.
Both the House and Senate have been working for years to reduce the size and footprint of government, and have made significant progress over the last two years. There is no doubt that we need to live within our means, and unfortunately when revenue is at the levels we see today, uncomfortable, difficult cuts must be considered.
Here is a quick summary of some of the vetoes announced today:
- K-12 foundation funding – $6.35 million
- One-time funding to school districts – $4.7 million
- School debt reimbursement – $30 million
- Rural school construction – $10.4 million
- Oil and gas tax credits: cut $430 million, leaving $30 million in the budget (the $430 million will need to be paid next year)
- Permanent Fund Dividend: cut in half – $666.35 million – leaving an estimated $1,000 dividend for 2016
- Public radio broadcasting – $750,000
- Tourism marketing – $3 million
- Correctional and Community Residential Centers – $3.5 million
- Parents as Teachers program – $200,000
- Workforce Development Grants – $502,400
- Childcare Benefits – $1 million
- Online with Libraries program – $100,000
- Tourism Marketing – $3 million
- University of Alaska – $10 million
Total amount of vetoes made by the Governor: $1,289,237,700
The Governor also vetoed the continuation of several road projects in the state, including the U-Med bypass road in Midtown Anchorage and the Glenn Highway, Hiland Road to Artillery Road reconstruction. He additionally has stated he is “closing down” the Knik Arm Bridge project, as well as the Susitna-Watana project.
Some of these reductions are worrisome and un-vetted, however it is within the Governor’s power to make changes to the budget passed by both Republicans and Democrats this spring. We will continue to work with the Governor to be sure that these vetoes don’t jeopardize the quality of our children’s education, our public safety, and the wellbeing of our communities. Your input is as important as ever, as we evaluate the Governor’s vetoes, and we hope that you will reach out with any comments or concerns about his changes to the budget.
To see the specific details of the vetoes, you can visit the Office of Management and Budget’s website.
Before we go, The National Weather Service just issued a heavy rain warning for Southcentral Alaska on Thursday. The heaviest rainfall will occur in the Mat-Su and Copper River Valleys, while Anchorage could also see significant rainfall amounts. Please look out for ponding on roads and bike paths throughout the city and if a road is flooded just turn around – do NOT try and cross any roadway that is underwater. For more information go to http://pafc.arh.noaa.gov/
Have a safe holiday weekend,
This is a quick update on goings-on down here in Juneau during special session and in Anchorage as well. The House and Senate came to a landmark compromise yesterday and approved the FY 17 operating budget and capital budget, in addition to passing two other important policies. While lawmakers still have several pieces of legislation remaining on the special session agenda, we are hopeful that the people’s business can be completed soon.
This year’s budget has been one of the most challenging pieces of policy most legislators have faced in their careers. With the sudden and steep drop in oil prices, Alaska’s primary source of revenue was pulled right out from under us. This has resulted in the need to look at serious and lasting reductions to the size of government, and the level of services that the state can afford. It’s fair to say that no two legislators have the same exact idea of how the budget should look, and during this fiscally straining time, no two had the exact same idea of what to cut, save, or streamline. This resulted in hard-fought budget negotiations over the course of the session and special session.
The budget the Legislature passed yesterday truly embodies the principle of compromise. No one got everything they wanted – some wanted substantially more money added back in, and many still feel that there are ways to reduce government’s footprint and find efficiencies in the way we provide state services. However, our Constitution requires that we strike a balance and bring together this diverse group of legislators from every corner of the state to pass a budget.
Here are a few highlights from this year’s compromise budget:
Total state spending is reduced over $1.5 Billion or 7.1%
- Public education is fully funded
- The Capital Budget leverages federal funds to keep Alaskans at work maintaining our infrastructure
- Reductions are made to state services that were duplicated by the private sector, unfilled positions, unsuccessful programs, and other areas
- Avoids the need to send out pink slips to state employees or shutdown government
The Governor has said that he will wait to sign this compromise budget until he feels the Legislature has vetted his tax and credit proposals and Permanent Fund plan.
Other Legislation Passed
Yesterday two other pieces of important legislation passed the Legislature that will positively improve the ways we protect and provide for our state’s children.
House Bill 200, which deals with the Indian Child Welfare Act, would benefit children in State Custody by assuring that adoption proceedings for children in need of aid are conducted in the manner most beneficial to the child and their family. This would include a provision that would allow for a single court and a single judge to preside over the proceeding in its entirety, and for a proxy to be used in a formal petition to adopt. This measure was previously passed by the House, and after being passed by the Senate yesterday, will now go on to be signed by the Governor.
House Bill 27 also passed both bodies yesterday, and provides protections and additional rights for youth in foster care. The goals of this bill are to reduce the amount of time children wait for permanent housing, to ensure that foster children are prepared to leave the foster program, to allow children to remain in a stable school, to recruit and retain more foster parents, and to ensure that placements with relatives are sought when a child is moved to a new OCS placement. The passage of this bill will do great things for our foster youth and communities, and it now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Now that the Legislature has passed a compromise budget, we will continue to meet on the other items on the Governor’s special session agenda. Today in Juneau, the House Labor and Commerce Committee met and discussed House Bill 4002, which would provide major medical coverage for the surviving spouses and children of peace officers and firefighters. The House Finance Committee met and discussed some of the Governor’s tax proposals, including mining taxes, motor fuel taxes and fisheries taxes. The House Resources Committee also met and passed House Bill 246 out of committee, which would create an oil and gas infrastructure development program and the oil and gas infrastructure development fund in the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA).
Tomorrow, we will have more meetings in the House and Senate, and throughout this special session, our office will keep you posted on the Legislature’s activities. Thank you so much for your engagement and every call, email, and visit to our office. We are continually grateful to have such an involved community.
Look for our next update later this week!
Now, here are a few events in our community:
The Anchorage Assembly meets this Tuesday with a lengthy agenda of items to consider. Here are two proposed ordinances the board will take up that evening starting at 5:00 p.m.
- An ordinance prohibiting smoking and “vaping” in Town Square Park including adjacent Alaska Center for the Performing Arts property right-of-ways and walkways
- An ordinance permitting the Anchorage Assembly, by resolution, to order a recount of votes from any particular precinct, or for any particular office proposition or question; and to permit, but not require, the Anchorage Municipal Clerk to conduct a recount when, in the judgment of the Municipal Clerk, a recount may increase voter confidence in the election
Are you and your family prepared in the event of a disaster? It is an important question that we all need to discuss with our loved ones. The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management is reminding everyone about the Do 1 Thing Program, a monthly roadmap to preparing your family for an emergency.
For June, the Do 1 Thing Program recommends making a list of special things your family might need in the event of a disaster. Every household is different. Is there an infant or young child in your home? Does someone in your family have a medical condition that requires medication? Do you have a pet? Ask the questions, make a list and get prepared before disaster strikes.
Check out the organization’s website for more details at http://do1thing.com
We are sending out posts more frequently between now and the end of the special session to keep you as informed as possible. Do not forget to check out our social media pages for late breaking news. Our Twitter page is @RepMillett and on Facebook at facebook.com/representativemillett
Thanks again for all your support!
I hope that you’re enjoying these beautiful early summer days! The Legislature is continuing its work down here in Juneau, having been called into special session by the Governor. There are many big issues on the table, including the budget and the Governor’s plan to restructure the Permanent Fund, and we plan to give all their due. Below is an update on the goings-on down here, and ways to participate.
End of Regular Session
After 120 days of working on the issues before us, the Legislature was incredibly close to a compromise on the budget, whose passage would have allowed us to adjourn and avoid a special session. Unfortunately, parties involved were unable to meet all of the last minute requests of the House and Senate minorities, and important cooperation was prevented. While this was a frustrating turn of events after long hours of negotiations, we all understand that a budget must be passed and are committed to continue to work hard and find common ground.
Special Session Topics
Eleven items are on the Governor’s special session agenda including the budget, an omnibus proposal for taxes on Alaskans and businesses, a Permanent Fund restructure, a reinsurance plan for self-insured Alaskans, insurance coverage for surviving families of public safety, oil and gas tax credits, and others.
The House and Senate passed a resolution on the second day of special session to better use the time before us to pass a budget and other bills on the governor’s proclamation. The resolution prioritizes the passage of a fully funded budget in a timely manner that will ensure state workers remain employed and essential state services continue uninterrupted and keeps us from having to wipe the slate clean and start all over, saving time and money during this special session.
While a wide range of bills are before us, the first priority has to be passing a budget, and ensuring that state employees don’t need to worry for their jobs and Alaskans maintain critical services. On the last night of session, compromise was within our sight line, and we’re all confident that momentum from last week will continue into special session.
As we move through special session, there will be numerous opportunities to testify on bills before the Legislature, as well as televised and streamed meetings if you’re interested in following along. More importantly, our office is always so grateful to get your calls and emails, and hopeful that you will reach out with any questions, concerns or ideas.
House Bill 4002
Our office was particularly encouraged by the Governor’s introduction of House Bill 4002, which mirrors our bill, House Bill 66 and provides for major medical coverage for the surviving spouses and children of public safety officers who are killed in the line of duty. Alaska’s peace officers and firefighters put their lives on the line for all of us every day, and do so without the comfort of knowing that if they make the ultimate sacrifice, their families will have health coverage. This policy would allow for families of slain peace officers and firefighters to enter early into the retiree health plan, and have secure coverage through the state.
When we ask our state employees to run into danger, the state should be prepared to honor them and protect their families when the worst happens. The families of Troopers Johnson, Rich and Toll, all troopers slain in the line of duty, have been unfailing advocates for this small protection, and we are truly looking forward to the possibility of its passage this year.
The pace is picking up here in Juneau. The committees are busy reviewing bills and drawing closer to agreements to bring the special session to a successful conclusion. We respectfully ask for your patience as we move towards adjournment and thank everyone who has contacted our office with thoughts, ideas and suggestions. We are listening and count on all of you to guide our decision making process.
Remember to be courteous and check your speed in road construction zones this summer. Two major road projects are underway now in the Abbott Loop area. Abbott Road from Lake Otis to Jupiter Street will be widened from two to three lanes and will make the road safer and keep traffic moving during the morning and evening rush hours.
Three years will be necessary to finish widening the New Seward Highway between Dowling and Dimond. Expect lane closures, detours and flaggers for the $50 million project as work has already begun to widen the highway from four to six lanes. Construction is scheduled to be complete by the third quarter of 2018.
The school year is over but Cougar sports remain in high gear. The ASAA Track and Field Championships started today and continue through Saturday at Dimond High’s outdoor track. The Cougar boys and girls soccer teams are competing in the state tournament at the Eagle River and Service High fields.
Last but certainly not least, we want to say farewell and happy retirement to Service High School Principal John Gaskins. John was a pleasure to work with the past few years on the new home field, PTA meetings and so much more. His dedication to the students is admirable and showed each and every day at Service. Let’s all wish John and his family well as he begins a well-earned retirement.
As always, we can be reached in Juneau, by our toll free line, 1-888-269-3879 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org No one could ask for better weather this holiday weekend so take the family out and enjoy it!
Good afternoon everyone,
Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy day to read about our efforts to represent you and your family. We are in extra innings here in Juneau, continuing to work hard to address the state’s $4 billion dollar budget gap in a manner that protects the state’s economy and your pocketbook to the greatest extent possible.
The Legislature is continuing its work down in Juneau in this year of unprecedented revenue shortfalls and budget deficits, there is still much to work on. As the session extends, the issues left on the table are criminal justice reform, tax credit reform, final budget details, and revenue options. The House has had meetings and floor sessions every day, and will continue to during the weekend, and until our work is done.
After the state’s 65% reduction in income, legislators and the Administration are working diligently to come up with solutions and innovations. These are solutions not easily found and often compromises not easily struck. Everyone is looking to protect Alaskans and keep our state whole, and the path of every legislator towards a sustainable state budget is going to differ slightly. Your comments, questions and ideas are still incredibly important, and we so value all the input we receive from Alaskans as we work through these incredibly difficult issues.
House Bill 379
As a measure to get state spending under control, this week the House Finance Committee is evaluating a bill brought by our office and Representative Craig Johnson to freeze state government raises until oil prices begin to rise. Businesses across the state have begun to downsize, with many laying off our friends, family and neighbors. State government, in spite of our change in fiscal circumstances, is scheduled to give its employees pay increases this year, resulting in tens of millions of dollars of spending. In this financial climate, during a period where many are unsure of their job security, the state of Alaska needs to prioritize private and public sector stability and economic health. While merit pay has been an advantage that many look forward to as a part of state employment, maintaining as many stable, healthy Alaskan families as possible must take priority.
The state’s spending needs to best reflect the reality of our fiscal situation, and while the price of oil hovers at $40 per barrel, we simply cannot afford to dole out automatic raises. Under House Bill 379, merit increases would be frozen until such as time as oil prices increase. As prices rise, employees would share in the increase, and the state would reintegrate the increases.
No employee should lose their job in order to pay a colleague’s raise, nor should Alaskans be asked to pay a share of their personal or business income, in the form of a tax to increase the pay of a state worker. This bill proposes no salary cuts or position eliminations. It simply represents an accurate reflection of the state’s finances, and places priority on keeping Alaskans employed.
The winning streak continues! Both the boys and girls soccer teams notched victories over the Eagle River teams Monday and yesterday the Ladies defeated South High. Next up are the Dimond Lynx teams on Monday the 25th at Dimond. The girls take to the field at 5:00 p.m., the boys at 7:00 p.m.
The Service Track and Field team competes next Saturday, April 30 in a quad meet against Dimond, South and Eagle River at Eagle River High at noon. All three Cougar teams can use your support so get out and cheer on the green and gold!
Also, we have for you the April edition of the Service High newsletter.
New School Websites
The Anchorage School District is actively redesigning webpage’s for all its schools and several in our area are up and running. The redesigns make it easier to navigate the sites plus more complete information on each school for students and parents is now available.
Here are the Abbott Loop schools with redesigned websites:
Kasuun Elementary: http://kasuun.asdk12.org/
Trailside Elementary: http://trailside.asdk12.org/
Hanshew Middle School: http://hanshew.asdk12.org/
Service High School: http://service.asdk12.org/
The Anchorage Assembly meets this Tuesday, April 26, starting at 5:00 p.m. Here is a pair of highlights.
- An ordinance creating a retail sales tax on marijuana and marijuana products. The new tax was overwhelmingly approved by voters earlier this month.
- Another ordinance setting the rates of tax levy, approving the amount of municipal property tax, and levying taxes for all service areas of the Municipality of Anchorage General Government for 2016.
The meeting, like all assembly meetings, takes place at the Loussac Library.
We are working seven days a week for you. Stay in touch with our toll free number, 1-888-269-3879 or send an email to email@example.com
Good afternoon everyone,
As we approach the end of session, there are still outstanding issues to be discussed in the Legislature, and much happening in South Anchorage as well!
This week the House and Senate formed a conference committee, comprised of Democrats and Republicans from both of the Finance committees. The conference committee will meet and discuss the items that the House and Senate disagreed on in the budget. This includes money in just about every agency, and policy calls that will affect how much our state needs to withdraw from its savings account.
The House’s goal in this discussion is to prioritize funding government at a sustainable level – that is, attempting to match our spending with our revenue. With the drop in oil prices and state income, there are simply some programs that the state can no longer afford. We will be looking to preserve funding for public safety, emergency and health, and community stability.
Criminal Justice Reform
A lot has been happening in the Legislature over the past few days in regards to criminal justice reform. The House Judiciary Committee has been hearing amendments over the past few days in response to public input regarding House Bill 205, the House’s draft of the package. Alaskans weighed in on sentencing concerns, offender supervision, and critical reinvestment in violence prevention and treatment – which have been incorporated in the amendments being adopted.
The Senate is going to be hearing their draft of the bill, Senate Bill 91, on the Senate floor this weekend, with the intent of voting on it and sending it to the House for further evaluation. Many edits have been made to the original recommendations provided by the Criminal Justice Commission, which will need to be vetted in the House by legislators and agency experts.
The goal of this suite of reforms is first and foremost ensuring public safety. We know that our current justice system is broken, and needs fixes to better serve victims and our communities. Please continue to reach out with your ideas and concerns – your input really does make a difference and we are so grateful for your engagement.
House Bill 76
We are proud to report that HB 76 passed the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday. This bill eliminates any confusion about who the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education serves, and has served so well since its inception in 1978. The Council’s critical mission of providing access to housing, employment, independent living, health, transportation and community inclusion for Alaskans with disabilities is preserved under this legislation, and its enabling statutes now reflect a clear path forward.
House Bill 76 now heads to the Governor for his signature.
House Bill 308
House Bill 308 moved through the House Judiciary Committee and should be up for a final vote on the house floor any day now. The bill will limit the civil liability of Child Passenger Safety Technicians who install, inspect and adjust child safety seats and educate parents about their proper use. The way the current law is written makes it much tougher to recruit and train technicians, so if HB 308 is passed, we will have more technicians ensuring safety seats are properly installed so our children are protected in the event of an automobile accident.
The legislation has broad support from Alaska’s law enforcement officers, health and safety professionals, firefighters, paramedics and healthcare professionals.
If you have young children in your life, you might want to get their car seat inspected. Visit www.carseatsak.org or call the numbers below to learn how to install correctly your child’s safety seat.
Alaska Injury Prevention Center – 907-929-3939
Anchorage Fire Department – 907-267-5045
Safe Kids Alaska State Coalition – 907-212-3194
For other locations around the state go to: http://www.carseatsak.org/Links/index.cfm?fuseaction=CheckUpLocations
Hanshew PTA Needs You!
The Hanshew Middle School PTA is actively recruiting executive committee members for the 2016-2017 school year. The board needs Hanshew parents, or anyone just interested in education, to step up and serve in the secretary, vice-president and treasurer positions. If you are interested and available, please contact PTA President Bright Nygard at HanshewPTA@gmail.com
Spring is here, the snow is gone, and the Service High spring sports programs are well underway. The Cougar Track and Field teams have been competing since late March and have an indoor meet today (3:00 p.m.) and tomorrow (11:00 a.m.) at The Dome, 6501 Changepoint Drive. Track meets will take place outdoors starting April 20th.
The team has its own webpage so Cougar fans can follow the action all season long. Go to:
The risk of wildfires is so high in the Anchorage bowl right now the Anchorage Fire Department has banned the use of burn barrels and is not issuing any burn permits until conditions improve. Abbott Loop has many large wooded areas that can erupt into a devastating wildfire if someone becomes careless, so please heed the ban and take all brush and tree material to the nearest wood lot.
Information on how to protect your property and family from a wildfire and where wood lots are located are just a mouse click away at http://www.muni.org/Departments/Fire/Wildfire/Pages/default.aspx
The legislative process may be in high gear but we always have time to respond to your questions, concerns or comments. Call our toll free number at 1-888-269-3879, or send an email to Rep.Charisse.Millett@akleg.gov
Be sure to follow us on social media – Twitter @RepMillett or Facebook at facebook.com/representativemillett
The forecast shows lots of sun this weekend so be sure to get out and enjoy it!
Welcome to our weekly blog page update where we fill you in on what is happening here in Juneau and around the Abbott Loop area. Things are super busy in the state capitol building with less than a month to go in the regular session. Let’s get started with a progress report on some legislation.
Criminal Justice Reform
This session, the Legislature has been reviewing a package of reforms to our criminal justice system. Senate Bill 91 and House Bill 205 are the vehicles for recommendations brought to us by the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission, a diverse group comprised of victims’ advocates, law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, legislators, leaders in the Native community and other experts in criminal justice and community rehabilitation. After years of examination of Alaska’s justice system, successful policies, data, and outcomes, the Commission came out with a report of 21 recommendations to reduce crime, hold offenders accountable, and heal our communities. Those recommendations make up SB91 and HB205.
As legislators, we are looking closely at every one of these policy recommendations to ensure a few things, including:
- Alaskans are safe in their homes and communities
- Our state does not go too easy on people who break our laws
- Underlying causes of crime, like substance abuse and addiction, are being addressed
- We are not spending our money on policies that don’t work
We owe all Alaskans a safer environment than what we have today. Longer sentences and a lack of treatment options have led to higher crime rates and even higher rates of re-victimization and recidivism. People aren’t getting better before they’re getting worse, and a fix is needed. The Legislature will not be rubber stamping the Commission’s recommendations. We aren’t sure yet whether these bills represent a solution to the problems we’re facing, but we will be vetting them closely and taking your input throughout the process. Please call, email, write, or testify with your concerns and ideas!
House Bill 308
This bill has its first hearing in the House Labor and Commerce Committee on Monday afternoon. Child Passenger Safety Technicians install, inspect and adjust and educate parents about the proper use of child safety seats. Recruiting new technicians is difficult due to a lack of liability protections in current state statutes.
House Bill 308 limits the civil liability of certified technicians, or those who facilitate their program, in the case that an accident results from an act or omission in the inspection, installation, or adjustment of a child passenger safety device. With the goal of having our state’s children safe and secured in their car seats and booster seats, this bill hopes to increase the numbers of those who can effectively install and inspect devices and direct liability to those who actually commit wrongful, criminal acts.
The legislation has broad support from Alaska’s law enforcement officers, health and safety professionals, firefighters, paramedics and healthcare professionals.
House Bill 241
House Bill 241 will be heard in the House Fisheries Committee on March 29. Alaska’s commercial fishing industry has long attracted fisherman from across the United States, and around the world, to seek their fortunes, and join Alaskan fisherman in the state’s bountiful waters. For a commercial fishing operation to participate in a fishery with limited access, they must apply for a permit, which if accepted, comes with a fee. The state levies different fees for permit applicants and holders who are Alaska residents than those who are nonresidents.
This legislation seeks to address concerns that many current permit holders and applicants who pay fees meant for residents of Alaska are in fact, living outside of the state. To better determine the qualifications for in-state residents, this bill uses existing infrastructure in the form of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation’s eligibility criteria for the permanent fund dividend. House Bill 241 would require that the Permanent Fund Corporation confirm for the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission that an individual applying for a permit or renewal has received, or is eligible to receive a permanent fund dividend.
Cell phones seem to be capable of about anything these days. Now track legislation with your phone by using SMS Bill Tracking. This is a great feature. Text a bill number (ex: HB1) to 559-245-2529 to enroll in text alerts. You will receive an enrollment confirmation and instructions on how to stop receiving the alerts.
Get Involved in Education
Parents, teachers and administrators gather for monthly PTA meetings throughout the school year. Here is the slate of meetings for April.
Abbott Loop Elementary PTO – Tuesday, April 12 at 6:00 p.m.
Kasuun Elementary PTA – Thursday, April 7 at 4:00 p.m.
Trailside Elementary PTA – Thursday, April 7 at 3:45 p.m.
Polaris K-12 School PTO – Wednesday, April 13 at 4:30 p.m.
Hanshew Middle School PTA – Monday, April 4 at 3:30 p.m.
Service High School PTA – Tuesday, April 12 at 6:00 p.m.
The Service Girls Soccer Team held its first game of the season Wednesday, defeating East High 7-0. The season is off to a great start so let’s make sure to cheer on the Lady Cougars all season long. Their next game against Bartlett takes place March 26 at 8:15 p.m. in the Anchorage Sports Dome. Meanwhile, the boys’ soccer team takes on Bartlett the same day, same place, at 6:30 p.m.
Before we go, remember that the deadline to file for this year’s PFD is one week away, March 31. File online at http://pfd.alaska.gov/
Thank you so much for your support over the years and have a wonderful weekend.
We hope all of you are doing well, if your family had the opportunity for a spring break vacation, we hope it was fun and relaxing. Here in Juneau, we are down to the final month of the regular session, the pace is picking up in committees and floor sessions as substantive discussions are taking place and finishing touches on legislation are being made.
House Bill 66
We were incredibly lucky this week to have Brandy Johnson, the widow of Trooper Scott Johnson, join us in Juneau to advocate for health benefits for the families of fallen officers. With Brandy’s help and leadership, our office and the past two administrations have been working to pass HB 66, which would provide secure health benefits for the spouses and dependents of those who die in the line of duty.
This bill represents a small token of thanks to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and died protecting and serving Alaskans. The Johnson family, along with other families of fallen heroes, are currently left without the security of continuing health care coverage after the loss of their loved one. House Bill 66 seeks to rectify this wrong, and allow our protective occupation employees the comfort of knowing that if the worst were to occur, their families would be cared for.
This bill will soon be heard in both the House and Senate, and our office will keep you posted as it progresses.
KTVA and KTUU both produced news reports on Brandy and her family’s effort to secure medical coverage for the families of slain law enforcement officers.
House Bill 125
This week the Alaska House passed House Bill 125, legislation designed to combat the abuse threat coming from products containing dextromethorphan (DXM) which is commonly used in over-the-counter cough syrup medications.
The legislation limits the sale of products containing DXM to persons 18 and older, unless the buyer has a written prescription from a licensed medical provider. Ten other states have similar requirements. We sponsored this legislation because young people are consuming products with DXM to get intoxicated. When taken in high doses, DXM causes dangerous hallucinations, loss of motor control, blurred vision and more. Restricting access to products containing this ingredient can deter abuse and protect the health and safety of young Alaskans.
HB 125 was referred to the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.
House Bill 205
Our office’s version of the crime bill, House Bill 205, is up for a public hearing on Tuesday, March 22 at 5:00 p.m. The latest version contains revisions recommended by the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission.
Testimony can be given at the Anchorage LIO office, located at 716 W 4th Avenue. We recommend arriving on time and please be patient because there could be many people planning to testify. If you are unable to attend, written comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Anchorage Assembly gathers for a meeting this coming Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. in the Loussac Library.
Here is a sample of what the board is considering:
- A resolution appropriating $120,000,000 from Short Term Borrowing Program (STBP) for the purchase of ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc.’s interest in property within the Beluga River Unit to Municipal Light & Power Department, ML&P Beluga River Gas Field Fund
- An ordinance regarding the measuring of separation distances between marijuana establishments and protected land uses in Chugiak/Eagle River, and waiving Planning and Zoning Commission review
- Reviewing the Anchorage School District’s proposed 2016-2017 school year budget
The library is still undergoing extensive renovations so look for the signs indicating the temporary entrance to the assembly chambers. Call the Municipal Clerk’s office if you need any additional information at 343-4311.
2016 PFD Application Deadline
If you have not applied for the 2016 Permanent Fund Dividend, the deadline is Thursday, March 31. Go to the PFD webpage: http://pfd.alaska.gov/ to file your application electronically and if you have any questions call the Anchorage PFD office at 269-0370.
Get Involved in Education
Trailside Elementary School holds its annual Math/Science Night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 24. This is always a popular event at the school that promotes and encourages kids to learn two important subjects in a fun, interactive way.
Volunteers are needed! If you can help out, call the school at 742-5500.
Before we go, let’s all give a round of applause to Service High basketball player Nathan Fromm for being named to the 2016 4A Boys All-State Basketball Team! Nathan was a real sharpshooter on the court all season and deserves to be recognized as one of the very best players in Alaska.
Thanks so much for reading our weekly blog post. Do not hesitate to call our Juneau office during the session at 1-888-269-3879 if there is anything you need.
Good afternoon neighbors,
Today is day 53 of the legislative session and after a lengthy floor session, extending well past midnight, we passed the House’s preliminary version of the state operating budget (House Bill 256) early this morning. We have a recap of what happened in Juneau and as always, the latest community news and events.
A Real Hero Among Us
Courage, valor, personal responsibility are just some of the values the Navy ROTC program instills in students at Service High School. Seaman Apprentice Taylor Engstrom demonstrated those values and much more when he helped save the life of a fellow student.
It happened last September when Taylor received a call from a friend who was contemplating suicide. Demonstrating maturity and compassion under circumstances that would challenge many adults, Taylor kept his friend on the phone until police could arrive at his friend’s house.
His friend’s life was saved and for his good deed, Taylor was awarded the Meritorious Service Award this week during a special ceremony at Service High School. The highest decoration that can be given to an ROTC student.
Congratulations to Taylor for not just the award, but for saving a life. Check out this touching video about Taylor and his good deed. http://www.adn.com/video/video-jrotc-cadet-awarded-saving-life
FY 2017 State Operating Budget
Our priority in looking at the budget this year was reducing the cost of our day-to-day government, closing our fiscal gap, and maintaining a strong savings account to allow for a glide path into our new fiscal reality. To accomplish this goal, our subcommittees studied each state agency and their budget, gathering input from all stakeholders. We held over 100 meetings and took public testimony from across this state. Alaskans were – and continue to be – incredibly engaged and helpful in assessing the impact of every budget item on our communities and families.
The House, after significant scrutiny of all of our state functions, has identified nearly $640 million of reductions at this stage. Our number does not reflect the draft that we will soon receive from our Senate colleagues, or the work that will be undertaken by our joint Conference Committee. It also doesn’t reflect our work to reduce the footprint of government and the state’s deficit that has been introduced in separate legislation this year.
Our work is not done – this is just the first step in the state’s budget process. Now that the budget has cleared its first hurdle, it will be further reduced by our colleagues in the Senate, and then finally reviewed by both bodies together. We are all, as your legislators, still looking for your budget questions, ideas and concerns. The House’s draft of the budget was not created in a vacuum, it included over 30 hours of testimony from all corners of the state, and we still want to hear from you about ways in which state spending touches you and your family. Please continue to call, email, and leave messages on the Idea Line (1-844-414-5949, in Anchorage call 334-5949). We are truly grateful for your engagement.
Session’s Next Steps
The House Majority’s resolution to allow for full focus on the budget was truly successful – members gave their all in our subcommittees and we were able to meet the challenge of this unprecedented fiscal situation head on. As the budget clears the House for a few weeks, our committees will be back to hearing non-budget bills. You can anticipate that our discussions will expand to a number of different topics important to Alaskans, and there will be much to follow.
Our office has a number of bills that will be moving now that this resolution has been lifted. Here are a few to look out for:
– HB 205 – Includes recommendations from the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission on measures to reduce Alaska’s rate of criminal recidivism and re-victimization. This is a comprehensive criminal justice reform package estimated to save $424 million over ten years, while improving public safety. If passed, this bill would reduce Alaska’s average daily prison population by 21 percent and reinvest dollars saved into evidence-based services for offenders and crime victims. This bill holds offenders accountable, prioritizes public safety, and uses proven approaches to helping Alaska become “right on crime”.
– HB 241 – Defines Alaska residency for the purposes of attaining a commercial fishing permit from the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission. By using Permanent Fund Divided eligibility criteria, the state will be able to crackdown on non-residents paying much lower fees for fishing permits and attain both justice and additional state revenue.
– HB 308 – Helps to increase the number of trained professionals who can help safely and securely install car seats and booster seats by providing for their security from undue litigation.
– HB 66 – provides spouses and children of public safety employees who have been killed in the line of duty with security and coverage by allowing them to continue to be covered by their existing plans. House Bill 66 provides security for families and clarity for the state when approaching a line of duty death of a state employee.
Additionally, we will be hearing a package of Medicaid reform measures, which will bring our state substantial savings, and is a critical portion of our budget equation. Here is a link to this bill in its current form.
These are just a few of the issues we will be discussing these next few weeks, but our office is always available to answer any questions you might have about all of the legislation being reviewed.
Welcome to a New Member
The Legislature was proud to welcome a new member into our family this week. After the truly heartbreaking loss of our friend and colleague Rep. Max Gruenberg, Ivy Spohnholz answered the call to public service and has gracefully and admirably stepped up to serve East Anchorage in the House of Representatives. She has unparalleled shoes to fill, but getting to know Ivy, it is clear already that she will be a strong, tireless advocate for her constituents. We are all glad to have the opportunity to work with her this session. Welcome to the family, Ivy!
Get Involved in Education
The annual Spring Auction and Chorus Concert at Abbott Loop Elementary School takes place on Saturday, April 9th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Students, parents and staff spend months putting the program together to raise money for the school’s Parent Teacher Organization. A spaghetti lunch and student magic show are also on the agenda, so this sounds like a great time will be had by all. Donated auction items are welcome and appreciated. If you can help out, or need additional information, call the event coordinator at 245-5088.
Kasuun Elementary School started a student cooking club. Check out this adorable video. http://www.adn.com/video/video-kasuun-elementary-food-club Kudos to first grade teacher Kellie Mitchell and health teacher Karen Bronga for teaching a basic and always important life skill.
The Kasuun PTA is actively recruiting for new board members for next school year, read the details in this month’s school newsletter.
We will be back next week with more about our progress on the budget and much, much more.
Have a great weekend!