Archive for the ‘Fiscal Plan’ Category

Update for October 20, 2017

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Special Session Begins Monday

As you probably know at this point, the Governor has called the Legislature into a 4th Special Session to consider his new tax bill and Senate Bill 54, which makes a few changes to the criminal justice overhaul (Senate Bill 91) passed last year. The Special Session will begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, and hearings on those bills will start thereafter. Here is the schedule that we have so far:

  • House State Affairs Committee: Senate Bill 54 Oct. 23 at 12:30 p.m.
  • House Judiciary Committee: Senate Bill 54 Oct. 23 at 1 p.m.
  • House Judiciary Committee: Senate Bill 54 Oct. 24 at 9 a.m.
  • Senate Finance, Judiciary Joint Committee: Crime and Justice Policy Review Oct. 23 at 3 p.m.
  • Senate Finance, Judiciary Joint Committee: Crime and Justice Policy Review Oct. 24 at 10:30 a.m..
  • House Finance Committee: To Be Announced Oct. 24 at 1:00 p.m.
  • House Finance Committee: To Be Announced Oct. 25 at 1:00 p.m.
  • House Finance Committee: To Be Announced Oct. 26 at 1:00 p.m.
  • House Finance Committee: To Be Announced Oct. 27 at 1:00 p.m.

If you’d like to watch or listen to any of these hearings, you can visit akleg.gov and click on the “Live Now” tab. We will keep you posted as the Special Session moves forward.

 

Anchorage Homelessness Survey

As part of the Anchorage Community Plan to End Homelessness, several organizations working to address homelessness (e.g. Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, United Way of Anchorage, Municipality of Anchorage) have developed a survey to understand the Anchorage community’s impressions of homelessness and to gauge the willingness of people surveyed to tackle the issue.

You can help by taking this survey – 10 minutes of your time will provide invaluable information. This information will be used to determine how we can work together to make homelessness as rare and brief as possible.

All information will remain confidential.

Also, if you want to share this through your personal networks, social media pages, etc., please do so – and take it yourself. It’s open through Nov. 3rd.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/plantoendhomelessness

 

Keeping Your Vehicle Safe

We’ve officially entered that time of the year where it’s become necessary to start our cars early in the morning to warm up! However, leaving your car running and unlocked with the keys in it makes it a prime target for thieves. Given the substantial increase in car thefts, and the compounding issue of winter closing in, our office wants to make sure you take the right steps to keep your vehicle from being stolen.

One of the best options to ensure your vehicle heats up and remains safe while running without you in it is to have an auto start/remote start installed. For those who don’t know, an auto start or remote start is a “a radio-controlled device, which is installed in a vehicle by the factory or an aftermarket installer to preheat or cool the vehicle before the owner gets into it. Once activated, by pushing a button on a special keychain remote, it starts the vehicle automatically for a predetermined time.”

The great benefit of an auto start is that your vehicle can start and run, and remain locked at the same time. Furthermore, most auto starts shut your car off if someone gets in and taps the breaks without having the keys in the ignition – hence stopping a thief who breaks in thinking they can get away with your running vehicle.

In Anchorage, a considerable number of businesses exist that install auto start devices for reasonable fares. An entry level auto start will run you anywhere from $200 to 275, while auto starts that are operated from your smart phone likely cost $500 or more.

We encourage you to research and find an auto start that best meets your needs and budget. If an auto start is not attainable the next best thing would be to lock your vehicle while it warms up, and have a second set of keys handy to unlock it when you’re ready to head to work!

 

New Route Along the Seward Highway!

Working in conjunction with contractor QAP, the Alaska Department of Transportation is working diligently to complete as much work along the Seward Highway and impacted access roads before the snow hits. DOT’s weekly update of the large project is below with new information regarding traffic patterns.

Road Closure

NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN: Southbound Seward Highway traffic has transitioned onto the newly constructed southbound Seward Highway. Northbound Seward Highway traffic is now on the newly constructed northbound Seward Highway. Note that this traffic configuration is temporary and only in effect through the winter. Additional work to complete the project will occur next year.

What You Need to Know

  • To receive email updates about this project, email SewardDowlingDimond@spawnak.com 

Special Accommodations Contact:

Those people who reside in construction zones and may require special accommodations should call the DOT Highway Construction Engineer at 907-269-0450 (TTY 907-269-0473).

Update for September 22, 2017

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Crime Town Hall

On Wednesday, my office was privileged to attend a meeting with local business owners and concerned citizens regarding the rampant outbreak of crime in our city. It was a thoughtful discussion and most in attendance agreed that changes must be made to our criminal justice system, specifically relating to Senate Bill 91 (the criminal justice overhaul legislation that became law in 2016). In recent weeks and months, my office has been listening to constituents and their concerns over public safety and crime in Anchorage and our state.

To further this discussion my office is hosting a Crime Town Hall on Monday September 25th, at 6:30 p.m. at Abbott Loop Elementary. My office will be there to listen to your concerns, answers your questions and work together to address the out of control crime in our city.

We hope you can attend!

 

Special Session Proclamation

This afternoon Governor Bill Walker released his proclamation for the fourth special session of 2017. Two items are on the call of the special session: Senate Bill 54 and another version of an income tax.

Below is the official proclamation from Governor Walker.

 

I look forward to taking this opportunity to fight for the changes in our criminal laws that neighbors have been pleading for. We all deserve to live in a city and state that stands up for residents and crime victims.

 

Construction Update

As we near the end of the construction season, and beginning of the darker time of the year, we encourage everyone to be aware of the hardworking Alaskans working along our roads and thoroughfares.

DOT has provided another update on the major efforts and work occurring along the Seward Highway and Dowling this week. Please be advised of these road closure alerts.

From the DOT:

Road Closure

  • FUTURE ROAD CLOSURE: Beginning 8:00pm Friday, September 29, the roundabouts along Dowling Road near the Seward Highway (as well as the Seward Highway exit ramps) will be CLOSED through 5:30am Monday, October 2. Please plan to follow DETOUR routes via Tudor Road and Dimond Boulevard/Abbott Road. 

What You Need to Know

  • Be alert to daily LANE CLOSURES and DELAYS from 9:00am to 3:30pm and from 8:00pm to 5:30am along Dowling Road and its roundabouts. 

For more information and current updates on the project you may follow it here: http://alaskanavigator.org/projects/dowling-road-old-seward-highway-lake-otis-parkway-pavement-preservation

 

Community Council Elections

Our favorite community council in Anchorage, Abbott Loop Community Council (ALCC), is having its yearly Officer and Board of Directors elections next Thursday September 28th! We encourage you to attend to see who will be the new leaders of our District’s community council.

For more information on how to participate in the election process, or to just become involved with the ALCC, contact: Bruce Roberts, President of the ALCC at brucearoberts@hotmail.com or 907-952-9969

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our update! We hope that as we inch closer to this special session, and just in general, you stay in touch! Please don’t hesitate to call or email with questions or concerns.

Have a great weekend,

Update for September 1, 2017

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Good afternoon and happy September everyone! We hope you have some fun plans in store for what is shaping up to be a great Labor Day weekend! Moose and caribou hunting seasons are now open in many areas of Alaska, the State Fair is in high gear and there are still Silvers to be caught down on the Kenai!

 

Kenai River Classic

Last week, I had the privilege of participating in the 25th Annual Kenai River Classic fishing event put on by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA). Many great Alaskans, including business executives, policy shapers, and government officials attended the excellent event, which late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens helped co-found.

We were able to catch some world famous Kenai River silver salmon, and help raise funds for habitat restoration and fisheries education programs. A huge thank you is owed to the entire KRSA Board of Directors, staff, and countless volunteers who helped make this event a “splashing” success!

 

Construction Update

Contractor and DOT crews are still hard at work on the Seward Highway project between Dowling and Dimond. If you are having trouble accessing side roads or with directions in the project corridor, please feel free to give my office a call! We are here to help you out!

See the weekly project update from the Alaska Department of Transportation below:

Wednesday, August 30

Weekly Update

NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN: Southbound Seward Highway traffic has shifted from the Seward Highway to Homer Drive, which now acts the southbound Seward Highway. Northbound Seward Highway traffic has shifted from the Seward Highway to Brayton Drive, which now acts as the northbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45 MPH throughout the construction zone.

Please note that no side road access will be permitted to and from the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads during construction. Work will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through mid-October, in order to expedite the construction process.

 

Game Time!

Our Service High boy’s football team is gearing up for a big game against hillside rival South High. Tomorrow evening, at 5pm, the Varsity boys will be playing the Wolverines at South High (13400 Elmore Rd, Anchorage, Alaska 99516).

Likewise, the girls’ varsity flag football team is playing against East tomorrow morning at 11:30am. They will be taking on the Thunderbirds at East High School (4025 E Northern Lights Blvd, Anchorage, AK 99508).

If the weather forecast holds, it should be a spectacular day for some fall football!

Get out there and cheer on our Cougars!

 

Special Session in October

The news hit yesterday that Governor Walker intends to call the Legislature back into a fourth special session of the year, to deal specifically with measures to raise taxes. We expect the Governor to call us into special session on Monday, October 23, 2017.

As of today, we don’t know the particulars about the type of tax (or taxes) the Governor will propose. However, by the end of September we should have an understanding of what he envisions.

Stay tuned on this developing situation. My office will certainly want to hear how you feel about the tax proposals when they are unveiled.

 

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Thank you so much for your interest and engagement! We hope you stay in touch via phone, email or social media!

 

All my best,

 

Update for July 5th, 2017

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Good afternoon! We hope this finds you resting a bit and catching back up after a great 4th of July weekend. There’s nothing like a little Alaskan sun to help remind you of all of the amazing gifts we are blessed with in this state. We hope you and yours got outside, had some fun and stayed safe this holiday weekend. Our eternal gratitude belongs to those who sacrifice so much to keep us safe in this country, and protect our freedoms. Thank you so much to those who have served.

For our office, coming back from the weekend means coming back to work on our remaining item on the Governor’s special session agenda: oil and gas tax credits. This week’s newsletter will include an update on where we’re at, where common ground exists, and what’s going on this summer!

 

Oil and Gas Tax Credits

As Senate President Kelly points out in his op-ed this morning, there is substantial agreement in the Capitol about addressing, and ultimately ending, the state’s current system of paying cash for oil and gas tax credits. While we’re proud to witness the successes of SB 21 and the growth in oil production, our states current deficit simply doesn’t allow the room to pay out these cash-credits.

How much are tax credits costing our state right now? $1 million per day. That is money that we could be putting towards state troopers, road maintenance, public health, and other critical services.

Ending the cash credit program does not mean we’re in the business of crippling our industry partners or shortsightedly hurting Alaska’s biggest source of revenue. Our tax structure remains competitive with the rest of the world and includes tools to help smaller producers get revenue- and job-generating projects online.

With the price tag of $1 million per day, we have to act on ending cash payments as soon as possible! House Representatives Josephson and Tarr are the chairs of the conference committee, in whose hands the tax credit legislation currently is held. Our office, along with many others, is working to encourage them to hold a meeting as soon as possible to take action of this critical bill, and end this long special session. It is encouraging to know that compromise exists on this bill, but that only matters if these two Representatives actually let it get to the floor for a vote. We will keep you posted as progress occurs!

 

Budget Update

It was certainly a relief to finally be able to vote on a budget to continue the states essential services, and see it signed by the Governor last week. A government shutdown would have been crippling to our private and public sector, and I’m glad to have that uncertainty and risk removed from the equation. However, this budget isn’t perfect, and our work on providing for a sustainable path for Alaska’s future is not yet done. While the compromise budget does in fact fund government through the fiscal year, it takes an unmaintainable amount from our savings account, leaving very little left for any future downturns.

So, what happens next? The Legislature this year came to general agreement that our state can be using our current assets in a better, more profitable manner. At risk if we do not pass some kind of asset reform are Alaska’s credit rating – which is currently trending down –, economic stability, and our ability to fund essential services, like public safety and health, in the future. With the current price of oil below $50 per barrel and the recession it is causing in our state, we truly need to put a fiscal plan in place. Work this summer needs to focus on where we can come together on a fiscal plan, which at this point has centered on reforming the use of the Earnings Reserve account. Our office will be continuing to concentrate on this idea, and ensuring that working Alaskans and our private sector economy do not bear the brunt of any plan passed by the Legislature.

 

Seward Highway Project Update – Dowling/Dimond

Traffic from folks getting out of town this weekend certainly highlighted the ongoing construction on the Seward Highway. Below is the most recent update we’ve received from the Dept. of Transportation:

NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN: Southbound Seward Highway traffic has shifted from the Seward Highway to Homer Drive, which now acts the southbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45 MPH throughout the construction zone.

NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN: Northbound Seward Highway traffic has shifted from the Seward Highway to Brayton Drive, which now acts as the northbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45 MPH throughout the construction zone.

Please note that no side road access will be permitted to and from the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads during construction.

Work will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through mid-October, in order to expedite the construction process.

 

Kindergarten Prep

Do you have a soon-to-be kindergartener at home? The Anchorage School District is hosting events this summer to help parents prepare their student and themselves for what lies ahead in the coming school year, and what you can do this summer to help get ready! Starting school can be a big transition for families and having some tools can help you feel more prepared for this change.

Check out their Kindy Roundup website to find out more: https://www.asdk12.org/parents/kindyroundup/

 

School Lottery Program

The Anchorage School District is also still accepting applications for participating in the school lottery program. Up until July 27th, you can apply for your student to attend elementary, middle and high school programs including language immersion, high school medical and engineering specialties, and charter schools. We have some incredibly special programs in Anchorage that can give your student new and interesting opportunities in their education.

Learn more by visiting https://lotapp.asdk12.org/apply/

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this update, and for staying engaged as we work through the issues facing our state. Please continue to reach out with your questions, ideas and concerns. We’re here to serve you!

 

All my best,

Update for June 7, 2017

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Hello from Juneau on the 21st day of Special Session. Apologies for the gap between our updates, but as you may have read or heard in the news, there has not been very much movement here in the Capitol. This has honestly been a very frustrating time, and tensions are certainly very high. However, I do remain hopeful that compromise can be found and that we can avoid a government shutdown.

Constituent Coffee: Thank You!

Thank you so much to the 35 people who were able to make it to my constituent coffee over Memorial Day Weekend! It was so wonderful to sit down and talk with friends and neighbors about some of the issues we’re faced with here in Juneau. I enjoyed hearing updates from our community on what’s been happening in Anchorage this spring. It was additionally helpful to witness firsthand the construction work along on Brayton and surrounding areas. I heard from many of you that the signage and directions offered by the Department of Transportation’s team has been helpful. Please keep me posted if improvements still need to be made.

If you weren’t able to make it, I hope you’ll stay in touch about ideas and concerns you might have. My office is here for you!

Special Session Update

Like I said before, there has not been very much action here in the Capitol. This week we have had one meeting of the Conference Committee on the budget, and expect to have at least one more before Friday. These meetings will hopefully settle the budgets for 4 out of 18 departments, which chips away at the outstanding items for a full budget to be passed. This progress makes me hopeful, but still leaves a lot of work to accomplish before the special session is over.

Outside of the budget, the only committee action has been a solely informational House Finance meeting (held today) on the differences between the House and Senate’s oil tax legislation. During this time, many legislators have chosen to be home while they wait for progress. One of the questions I’ve been asked a fair amount is whether my colleagues and I are taking per diem while we are not in Juneau. I, for one, have not taken per diem while I’ve been away from the Capitol, and will continue not taking any per diem when not working in Juneau.

Governor’s Proposal

I appreciate the Governor putting forward a plan that he and his team knew would not be embraced with open arms. I don’t agree with everything in his package, nor does anyone in the Legislature at this point. Though I do think he demonstrated to many in this building that compromising means having tough conversations that might not get you everything you want. As evidenced by responses from some after his plan was presented, there are still legislators who believe a “win-win” is them getting exactly what they want, and never having to give. Is the Governor’s plan going to be accepted whole-cloth? Probably not. But what it does prove is that it is possible, if hard work is done, to come up with a settlement.

From Service to the Moon!

NASA recently announced the selection of 11 new astronaut candidates for the class of 2017, out of a record 18,300 applicants. Among those 18,300 was long-time Alaskan Robb Kulin, a graduate of Service High School in 2001! To read the full story about this exciting news for Robb and his family, click here!

Way to go Robb! You make Alaska incredibly proud and we know you’ll succeed in your future trainings and missions!

Hanshew Teaching Duo Shines!

Principal Nancy Brain of Hanshew Middle School recently provided my office this news alert regarding two outstanding teachers in our community:

Great news – a Hanshew teaching duo are 2017 Denali Award Recipients. The award is the highest District honor given to employees.

Individually they are great teachers, but together they are like lightning in a bottle. That’s how Hanshew Middle School Principal Nancy Brain describes teachers Katie Weidemaier and Leah Dubber.

Weidemaier and Dubber took the initiative to start two new eighth-grade pre-AP courses at Hanshew. Working together, they wrote a course curriculum infusing AP strategies into eighth-grade language arts and social studies. The content focuses on high-level reading, writing, research, and text analysis.

Weidemaier is described as a visionary language arts teacher who continually seeks new ways to engage her students and expand their learning. She works closely with multiple state and community organizations to further educational opportunities at her school. She has been instrumental in developing the middle school debate program at Hanshew and across the District.

Dubber continually takes advantage of learning opportunities to engage and challenge her students. Each year, her students compete in the “We the People” Middle School Invitational. This program provides an avenue for students to learn the historical and philosophical foundations of our country’s ideas about the creation of the Constitution.

A parent said, “At a time when schools are being asked to do more with less, these two astonishing teachers engage, inspire, and stir passion for knowledge.”

Leah and Katie are two of the most creative, hardworking, student-centered teachers I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

Nancy Brain

Principal, Hanshew Middle School

Way to go Katie and Leah! You make District 25, and our community proud!

Seward Highway Progress

Below is the weekly update provided by the Alaska Department of Transportation on the Seward Highway Dimond to Dowling project.

ROAD CLOSURE: Brayton Drive is 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.

NEW TRAFFIC PATTERN: Southbound Seward Highway traffic has shifted from the Seward Highway to Homer Drive, which now acts the southbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45 MPH throughout the construction zone.

FUTURE TRAFFIC PATTERN: Beginning Friday, June 9, northbound Seward Highway traffic will be shifted from the Seward Highway to Brayton Drive, which will now act as the northbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45 MPH throughout the construction zone.

Please note that no side road access will be permitted to and from the Homer Drive and Brayton Drive frontage roads during construction.

  • 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.

 

Juneau Update for May 22, 2017

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Special Session in Juneau

After butting up against the Constitutionally-mandated 121-day deadline, the Legislature was called by the Governor into a special session in Juneau.

These are the items Governor Walker would like to see passed this special session:

  • Broad-based tax, like an income tax
  • Motor fuels tax
  • Permanent Fund Restructure
  • Oil and gas tax credit reform
  • Operating, Capital and Mental Health Budgets
  • A bill related to the prescription and monitoring of opioids

This has been a particularly frustrating legislative session, filled with gridlock and lack of compromise. However, I view this special session as an opportunity to set aside our differences and tackle the issues on which there is agreement. I am hopeful this special session results in meaningful progress towards fiscal solutions for Alaska, a sustainable budget, changes to our tax credit system, and a cap on future government growth. We will keep you posted as the session moves forward!

Office Changes

My office, going into the summer and fall, will be undergoing some changes. In light of budget constraints facing our state, I will be reducing my staff by 1/3. Grace Abbott and Hans Rodvik in my office will be staying on and will continue to work hard to help us get our work done, answer your questions, and brainstorm ideas to help our community and Alaska. They are ready and willing to pick up a little extra slack, as many of us are doing right now, and are just as enthusiastic of public servants as ever. Stop by the office and introduce yourself, or give us a shout at 465-3879!

Ridesharing for Alaska

Before the end of the extended regular session, I was incredibly proud to vote in favor of bringing transportation network companies, like Lyft and Uber, to our state. Both residents and visitors have been asking the Legislature to bring Alaska into the 21st century and allow these companies to operate here. Our state faces any number of transportation obstacles, and we can use all the help we can get in improving access to rides. Thank you to everyone who wrote us in support of this job-creating policy – we received more letters, emails and calls in support from constituents on ridesharing than any other issue this year! I am excited to see the increased transportation opportunities that this bill will bring to Alaska, as well as the new employment opportunities. Start downloading your favorite ridesharing app today!

Education Funding

Many of you, both in District 25 and outside, have been asking the Legislature to pass a budget that funds education to at least last year’s level. I can tell you that personally, I agree. While our budget climate requires reductions and changes be made to the way our state spends, a successful future depends on our providing for education. I believe if we ensure some stability for districts this year, educators and administrators will be better enabled to produce efficiencies and improvements in education delivery. Without the stress of reducing their workforce this summer, districts can focus more on addressing budget challenges and innovating to reduce the effects of reduced revenue on classrooms.

In no way do I believe that those who would like to see our education budget reduced this year want to diminish outcomes or depreciate our public schools. We have a budget crisis on our hands, and looking through our school districts’ budgets, there appear to be more ways that spending could be scaled back or duplication reduced. It is simply my personal belief that if we hold school funding as harmless as possible this year, our results will be better down the road. I will be advocating for this position both in my caucus, and to my colleagues in the House and Senate. Please reach out with any questions or ideas on how we can improve our students’ experiences.

Abbott Loop Community Council

This Thursday, the 26th at 6:30pm the Abbott Loop Community Council is holding its May meeting. The meeting will take place at Abbott Loop Elementary, which is located 8427 Lake Otis Parkway. Community Council meetings are a great way to meet more of your neighbors, and get to know what is going on in your local area! I encourage you to go and look forward to seeing you at the next meeting when I’m home from Juneau!

School Is Out!

The last day of school for all Anchorage School District schools, is this Wednesday May 24th! I hope everyone has a safe, fun and productive summer! Congratulations to all the students who had another successful year!

Update for May 15, 2017

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Update on Alaska’s Fiscal Options

The past few days have seen a lot of movement on some important issues here in Juneau. Perhaps most importantly, we have finally seen the beginning of the budget negotiation process. The House and Senate met on Monday to organize the Conference Committee on the budget, which will be the group that will reconcile differences and come up with budget solutions that can garner enough support to fund government. I continue to believe there are many smart reductions and efficiencies to be found in our current administration, but will also be focused on reducing the effects of this downturn on our public safety and schools. It is our one constitutional obligation to pass a budget, and while I’m disappointed that this has taken so long to begin, I’m encouraged that movement is taking place.

We also saw significant progress this weekend on a plan to help our economy recover from its current recession. For months, there has been close evaluation and discussion of implementing an income tax to help pay for government. We’ve heard testimony from experts and from Alaskans on how taxing income during a recession would affect our state. After this lengthy debate, the income tax bill was voted on by both the House and Senate, and was unable to get enough support to pass this year. I remain focused on working to implement a sustainable plan to provide essential safety, health and education services this year. However, we have been told that an income tax would have burdened working Alaskans too heavily during a time where incomes are dropping and unemployment is at a high, and am thus glad to be able to move past this policy and onto better solutions. It is time to focus on other policy discussions that can unite us, rather than divide.

We are quickly approaching Wednesday’s constitutional deadline for this legislative session, and I am hopeful that my colleagues in the Majority will allow for a laser focus on the issues that are most pressing to Alaskans. We need to get our work done and find that common ground that Alaskans have been asking for these past 117 days.

Graduation and Final Weeks of School!

Today, Service High Seniors get to walk across the stage at the Sullivan Arena and accept their Diplomas! Congratulations to all of the hard-working graduates who have made it thus far in their educational pursuits! I know you will all do well during the next step of your journey, and hope that you know that you have a team of cheerleaders in our community who will be there to support you as you continue to work towards achieving your dreams.

The last day of classes for all ASD schools is May 24.

Over at Kasuun Elementary it’s a busy time as well. The 6th grade band and orchestra are having their final concert of the year on Thursday, May 18, at 9:30am. The school talent show is taking place on Friday, May 19, at 1:30pm. Field Day is the following Monday – with grades 4-6 in the morning, and K-3 in the afternoon! Looking ahead to next year, 1st grade will start at the same time as grades 2-12 on August 21, 2017 while preschool and Kindergarten kick off one week later on August 28th.

Construction Continues Along Seward Highway

The Alaska Department of Transportation sent out its weekly update for the Seward Highway Dimond to Dowling road project. Below is the DOT’s update from May 10th:

“ROAD CLOSURE: Homer Drive is 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 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.

Beginning the evening of Saturday, May 20, southbound Seward Highway traffic will be shifted from the Seward Highway to Homer Drive, which will now act as the southbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45MPH throughout the construction zone.

Beginning Saturday, June 10, northbound Seward Highway traffic will be shifted from the Seward Highway to Brayton Drive, which will now act as the northbound Seward Highway. Be alert to a reduced speed limit of 45MPH throughout the construction zone.

Work will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through mid-October, in order to expedite the construction process.”

Drive safely everyone and slowdown in construction zones this summer!

Update for April 24, 2017

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Go Cougars!

A little soccer spotlight this week! District 25’ers should be celebrating our Service Lady Cougar Soccer Team, finishing last week’s games with a 10-1 win over Bartlett, a 4-1 win over East, and a tie-game with Dimond. We are beyond proud of these talented, motivated student athletes, and have a lot of hope for their continued success. They also have a great Twitter page, which you can use to stay up to date on games and schedules – follow @SHS_WSOC. Good luck ladies!

 

Budget Update

Here in Juneau, we are still waiting on the House Majority to name their conference committee members to begin the budget negotiation process. If you aren’t familiar with conference committees, they are committees comprised of members from the House and Senate that meet to go over differences and strike compromise when the two bodies have passed different versions of a certain bill.

In this case, the House and Senate both passed different budgets, and thus will have to work together to find common ground that both bodies can agree upon. For a conference committee on the budget to begin, House leadership must name their members. For 13 days we have been waiting for the House Majority to appoint representatives, and are hopeful action will be taken soon. Passing a budget is the Legislature’s one constitutionally mandated duty, and Alaskans are relying on us to provide essential services to protect safety and health.

 

Public Testimony on Income Taxes

The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee is holding public testimony on House Bill 115 – the income tax bill supported by the House Majority and Governor. Public testimony is slated for 5:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Below is the information on how to make your voice heard!

Senate LABOR & COMMERCE Committee  

Apr 25, 26, 27 at 5:00 PM

HB 115 INCOME TAX; PFD PAYMENT/CREDIT

Statewide Public Testimony —   — Public Testimony Limited to 2 Minutes   

  Please Sign-in at Your Local LIO No Later Than 6:30pm

Contact by Phone: 907-465-4968

From my perspective, implementing an income tax is premature and unnecessary when we know the budget can be balanced and a stable revenue stream can be used without taxing Alaskans and hurting our already struggling economy. As policymakers, we have been told time and time again that tipping the scale too much and implementing too many changes this year could drive our state further into a recession. I believe we need to have a thoughtful approach – balanced spending reductions, asset restructuring and a tighter spending cap. An income tax is just too heavy a burden on Alaskans and businesses this year.

 

House Bill 111 – Oil Taxes and Credits

Last week, the Senate Resources Committee held public testimony for the first time on the version of HB 111 that passed the House. Alaskans spoke loud and clear: they do not want taxes changed or raised on our state’s most vital industry that has been in a downturn since 2015 due to low oil prices. 47 Alaskans spoke against HB 111, while 11 spoke in favor of it. Many commented on the fact that SB 21 is clearly working (even with low prices): if trends hold – production through TAPS will have increased two years in a row (something that hasn’t happened since the 1980s), new fields have been discovered, and major investments have occurred since 2013. The picture below is from ConocoPhillips, showing the activities that company has engaged in following the passage of SB 21.

Consultants testified that raising taxes at low prices – a large piece of HB 111 – would negatively impact investment levels, production and jobs for Alaskans. Oil from new fields, such as those discovered by Caelus, ConocoPhillips and Repsol costs $10-20 more per barrel to develop, than oil from legacy fields like Prudhoe Bay. Increasing government take (which accounts for all taxes/royalties a company pays) as HB 111 envisions at all prices between $50- 110 per barrel, will only make it harder for companies to bring new production online.

Projects like Smith Bay, Pikka, Willow and Nuna would increase production by hundreds of thousands of barrels, create thousands of high paying jobs, and generate billions of dollars in new revenue for the State. SB 21 has helped make these projects viable, while HB 111 threatens to undercut or outright stop them. I believe Alaska should keep our competitive tax structure in place, and do all we can to increase production – not focus on short term cash grabs by changing our tax regime again.

 

School Happenings

This week, students from both Trailside and Kasuun Elementary will be participating in spring cleanup days. The Knights will be tackling their campus clean up on Friday, while the Timberwolves will be coming in on Saturday to spiff up their school. It’s great to hear about active, engaged and thoughtful students who care about the well-being of their schools!

Also, at Trailside it’s Staff Appreciation Week! Our deepest gratitude goes out to the hard working teachers, support staff and administrators who make Trailside the great school it is. You all do an amazing job and make our district a wonderful place. Go Timberwolves!

 

The DEA is coordinating this effort to safely dispose of your prescription medications!

End of Session Update 4/17/2017

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Friendly Faces!

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

 

 

Update for April 7, 2017

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Fiscal Plan Update

We are now at day 81 of 90 of the Legislative Session. While many of us went into this session filled with a lot of optimism about solving our fiscal crisis, it has been disappointing to see the House Democratic Majority stall every piece of legislation that could solve our state’s enormous fiscal deficit. Thus far, the Democrat Majority has failed to gain enough votes to advance their two major pieces of legislation: HB 115 (income tax and Permanent Fund POMV plan) and HB 111 (oil and gas taxes/credits). Both bills remain stuck in the House Finance Committee, and legislators have no idea when they might be ready for primetime. This stalling represents a huge setback in getting Alaska’s budget under control and helping our struggling economy.

House Republicans have continued to advance ideas that would close the budget deficit, provide fiscal certainty to businesses, and avoid imposing taxes on Alaskan families. A major component of our fiscal plan, House Bill 192, has not even received a hearing. My caucus and I are dedicated to completing our work on time and in 90 days. Unfortunately, multiple critical hearings have been canceled and House Floor votes have yet to occur despite our having less than two weeks to go.

 

Tax Bills Update

This year we have seen nine different tax proposals introduced, and none of them have advanced to a vote on the House Floor. These bills, most of which were introduced by the House Democratic Majority, increase the cost of running small businesses, reduce Alaskans income, tax essential commodities, and hurt our state’s biggest employers. None of these bills close the fiscal gap, but they will all grow the cost of living for Alaskan families.

Alaska is in the midst of a serious recession, and I am generally not comfortable with new or higher taxes on our struggling economy. Our government must be creative with its resources, and find new innovative ways to live within its means before turning to taxes on Alaskans. I will be tracking all of these tax proposals as they move through the process, and will keep you posted as to their different financial implications for our communities and families.

 

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Alaska. Now is a good time to reflect on the ways we can work to prevent assault and support survivors. By working together and pooling our resources during the month of April, we can highlight sexual violence as a significant public health, human rights and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts. Standing Together Against Rape, a non-profit serving victims and encouraging prevention of sexual violence in Alaska, has many events planned during the month of April including:

Trusted Adult Superhero Day: 2nd Week of April, throughout Anchorage

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: Saturday, April 29th, 11:30 a.m., University Center Mall

International Denim Day: Wednesday, April 26th, All Day, throughout Anchorage

To find out more or see ways you can help, visit: http://www.staralaska.com/sexual-assault-awareness-month.html

Opioid Crisis

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.

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. House Bill 24 now heads to Governor Bill Walker’s desk, where we hope swift action will be taken to sign this legislation into law.

Seward Highway Project Update

Following the recent snowfall, the project has resumed its normal pace of work. For a full project overview from the Alaska Department of Transportation, click here. DOT put out the following statement regarding Brayton Drive:

Beginning Monday, April 10 at 8:00pm, Brayton Drive will be 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