End of Session Update 4/17/2017
It was wonderful seeing my cousin, Lisa Anderson, and students from the Bristol Bay region who were in Juneau to talk about education.
Service High School Principal Hauser stopped by for a visit! Go Cougars!
90 Days Come and Gone
It is now Day 91 of the 2017 Legislative Session. To my dismay, the Legislature has been unable to complete its work in the timeframe set forth by the people of Alaska. The people voted for a 90 day session, though our State Constitution allows the Legislature to continue working for a full 120 days. Throughout the session my 17 Republican colleagues and I, who make up the House Minority, urged the Democrat-led Majority to work weekends, hold longer floor sessions and focus committee work on only major fiscal issues. Sadly, our requests went mostly ignored. We now we find ourselves locked in gridlock and in extended session for the foreseeable future.
Major issues such as the budget, fiscal plan proposals, oil tax credit reform, and implementing a legitimate spending cap have not yet been completed and passed by both bodies. Completing the budget, and determining how to fund it, is the most important task remaining on our plate. I remain optimistic that through calm, rational deliberation we will reach a solution that secures a bright future for our state. I am hopeful that the House Majority joins me in that sentiment.
Fiscal Plan Update
On Wednesday the 12th, the Democrat House Majority passed Senate Bill 26 on a party line vote. Senate Bill 26 would have significantly addressed our budget deficit. I liked portions of the bill, though not all aspects of it. However, SB 26 was grossly amended by the House Majority in the Finance Committee. The $4.1 billion spending cap and $1.2 billion “revenue draw limit” were both removed. Furthermore, “poison pill” conditional language was inserted into the bill calling for the imposition of an income tax and higher oil taxes in order for SB 26 to become law. I along with my 18-member Republican Caucus voted against this bill the dangerous conditional language.
Then on Saturday, April 15, which ironically happened to be federal tax day, the House Majority passed HB 115, which I like to call the “Tax Working Alaskans Act.” Should HB 115 pass the Senate, it would impose the first income tax in Alaska since 1980. All members of the House Republican Minority voted against it. We stood resolutely against the taking of $670+ million from working Alaskans to prop up government. HB 115 is unlikely to pass the Senate, however, it’s highly concerning to see the House Majority disregard our struggling private sector economy by pushing for an income tax. Likewise, Governor Walker issued a press release praising the House Majority’s passage of an income tax.
Opioid Crisis Update
Last month, House Bill 24, my bill that criminalizes the possession and sale of the incredibly dangerous synthetic opioid U-47700, also known as “Pink”, overwhelmingly passed the Alaska State House. On Monday, April 3rd, HB 24 unanimously passed the Alaska State Senate! It empowers state and local law enforcement to put dealers behind bars and save the lives of Alaskans caught in the downward spiral of opioid addiction.
We are now waiting for the House Majority to bring forth HB 24 so that we can accept the changes made to it by the Senate. Once that action occurs, HB 24 will be sent to Gov. Walker.
Our legislation is one component of Alaska’s comprehensive statewide plan to fight opioid addiction, a menace to our society destroying lives, families and communities. We hope swift action will be taken by Governor Walker to sign this legislation into law once it reaches his desk.
Seward Highway Project Update
Construction season is beginning to heat up in town! The Seward Highway Dimond to Dowling project is a major construction project slated to run two full seasons. Here is the most recent information on the project from DOT:
ROAD CLOSURE: Homer Drive is now CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. 68th Avenue will remain open during this time to traffic, and the Old Seward Highway will act as a main business access and DETOUR route.
Brayton Drive is now CLOSED to all traffic, from Dimond Boulevard to 68th Avenue. Residents can access the northbound Seward Highway by using Sandlewood Place and Lore Road as an alternate DETOUR route. In addition, Sandlewood Place, Meadow Street and 68th Avenue should be used as a Brayton Drive business access DETOUR route.
Please note that no side road access will be permitted to and from the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads during construction.
- Later this season, Seward Highway traffic will be rerouted to the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads. Work will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through mid-October, in order to expedite the construction process.
- To receive email updates about this project, email: SewardDowlingDimond@spawnak.com