22nd Alaska State Legislature
Juneau Update for 02-01-01
For Immediate Release: February 1, 2001
The committee hearing process is in full swing as the 22nd Legislature moves forward. The majority of my committee time will be taking care of my responsibilities on Senate Finance. I have been appointed to chair the following finance subcommittees: Labor & Workforce Development, Public Safety and Military and Veteran Affairs. I have requested and have been granted a seat on the Fish and Game subcommittee as well. The entire Senate Finance Committee will scrutinize the University budget. If you have any specific areas of concerns about the budget process, or you need more information about a particular program, please contact me as soon as possible.
Senate Bill 61
I have introduced companion legislation to Rep. Gary Stevens HB 37, the student loan forgiveness bill. SB 61 has already taken into account the recommended changes by the House Special Committee on Education. By introducing a similar bill on the Senate side concurrently with the actions of the House, it is my hope that this will allow Rep. Stevens' bill to move forward more quickly and possibly be on the Governor's desk for his signature by the end of the first session. Since there is a national teacher shortage, Alaska has to find ways to become more competitive. It is imperative that we give our young Alaskans every opportunity to return to live and teach in our great state. Although some interest has been expressed to modify these bills to include other professions, it is my contention that if we keep this legislation simple and clean it has a better chance of passage. I would appreciate any thoughts you may have on this.
I will periodically bring you up to date on the other committees that I serve on during this first session. As a reminder, I sit on Labor and Commerce and the Community and Regional Affairs Committee. Schedules of hearings on these and the other committees are available at the Kodiak Legislative Offices at 486-8116. If there is any legislation of interest, you may be able to request a teleconference at the LIO and have an opportunity to testify.
Coast Guard Readiness
As the incoming chair of the Pacific Fisheries Legislative Task Force, I have been involved with other Western states with concerns about the U.S. Coast Guard and their ability to carry out their mission in times of budget cutting. I have introduced Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 10 urging the U. S. Congress to fully fund the operational readiness and recapitalization requirements of the Guard. Throughout its proud history, the Coast Guard's role as lifesaver and guardian of the sea have anchored our nation in a safe harbor. This resolution sends Congress a clear message that the people of Alaska value the Coast Guard and that we want them to remain ever vigilant to protect our fisheries, stop drug smuggling, keep our nation's waters as free from pollution as possible and to be there when maritime disaster strikes.
I have had several legislators' approach me about commercial, subsistence and sport fish issues. They have expressed interest in learning more. Rep. Gary Stevens and I scheduled the first of what I hope to be many meetings to help educate them and the public in general about the many aspects of the fish industry.
Members were asked at the first meeting to mention the issues most critical to them and what they expect the caucus to address. The primary focus of this caucus will be to provide background information and education to legislators concerning the issues facing Alaska. My overall priorities when examining fisheries issues are habitat protection, sustainability of the fishery in question, and then harvest allocation. We will be particularly sensitive to avoid any redundancy in regards to the House Special Committee on Fisheries. Since I was elected chair, I've scheduled the next meeting of the Fish Caucus for February 9th.
I believe Kodiak is really going to benefit from the close relationship Representative Gary Stevens' and I have, and the one we are forging between our offices. I have met with Gary on numerous occasions as well as having both formal and informal talks between staff. In some cases we will both pursue a course of action to double the impact we might have on certain issues. We will also coordinate our efforts to avoid duplication. In my past experience down here, other offices were not always willing to cooperate for the best interests of Kodiak. Rep. Stevens' and I will host our first constituent teleconference on Tuesday, February 13th from 5 - 6 p.m. at the LIO in Kodiak. Call Lorna or Jeanne for more information. If you missed our last program on KMXT, stay tuned for more talks on that station and KVOK.
My last meeting as a member of the Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation was February 1st. Since the House Speaker appointed Rep. Stevens to that committee, I feel Kodiak will be properly represented on the board. By all means though, if you have concerns about AADC and the upcoming missions at the Kodiak Launch Complex, please let me know.
Business Licenses Online
Alaskan's can now obtain, renew, update and print their state business licenses online at the state's newest interactive website at: http://www.dced.state.ak.us/occ/apps/BLEC_Start.cfm Businesses that utilize the online licensing program can add their business email address and homepage URL to the Department of Community and Economic Development's business directory. Other services available on the State of Alaska's home page at http://www.state.ak.us is fish & game license purchases, applications for state employment, online public notices, the PFD application and consumers may also purchase motor vehicle registrations.
My New Website
Visitors are starting to make the rounds while tracking legislation and getting to know some of the new legislators and agency people. Visitors include Pat Heitman, Ken Parker, Lorna Steelman , Bill Burton and Bob Hatcher all of Kodiak. In addition, I've had quite a few visitors from my new expanded Southeast district including folks from Skagway, Haines, Angoon, Gustavus, Hydaburg, and Metlakatla.
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