22nd Alaska State Legislature
Information from Senator Ben Stevens (R)

Click image for large 5'' x 7'' picture, 153.5k Session:
State Capitol, Room 119
Juneau, AK 99801-1182
Phone: (907) 465-4993
Fax: (907) 465-3872

716 W 4th Avenue, Suite 510
Anchorage, AK 99501-2133
Phone: (907) 269-0200
Fax: (907) 269-0204

Session Begins

Published: in the January 2002 WestSide Pulse
Contact: Senator Ben Stevens at (907) 465-4993

The second session of the Alaska State Legislature convened on January 14th. One of the first items of business for the State Senate was the organizational change due to Senator Drue Pearce's resignation. Some changes to the committee memberships and chairmanships were made and I have been assigned the chairmanship of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. I have also become a member of the Senate State Affairs Committee and the Senate Resources Committee.

As Chairman of the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee, I am looking forward to working on the various pieces of legislation that address Alaska's workforce laws such as industrial safety, unemployment and workers' compensation, employee benefits, and several other labor related issues. Deborah Grundman, a member of my staff, will be the Labor and Commerce committee aide and will work to schedule legislation for hearings, arrange public testimony, and thoroughly review the committee bills.

The Senate Resources Committee, under the Uniform Rules of the Alaska State Legislature, has jurisdiction over the programs and activities of the Departments of Natural Resources, Fish and Game, and Environmental Conservation. The State Affairs Committee has jurisdiction over the programs and activities of the following Departments: Administration, Military and Veterans' Affairs, Corrections, Public Safety, the Office of the Governor, and public facilities under the Department of Transportation. Kristy Tibbles and Sara Nielsen of my staff will work on these committees, reviewing legislation and keeping me informed of any related issues.

I will also serve on some of the Senate Finance budget subcommittees and will have the opportunity to work on the effort to develop a long-term financial plan for the State of Alaska. I believe this is one of the most important issues the legislature faces this session. Last November I attended the Fiscal Policy Caucus, a bi-partisan group of legislators, who have proposed a broad package to close the fiscal gap by implementing various revenue generating actions which might include: a sales tax, a income tax, capping the permanent fund, use of "excess" earnings (earnings that remain after PFD payout and inflation proofing), an alcohol tax, a motor fuel tax, a cruise ship tax, and an employment tax. Several other members of the Legislature believe there must be a spending cap in place prior to the implementation of any taxation. This issue, the fiscal gap, will supersede all other issues this session. I am optimistic the legislature will implement actions to generate additional revenue while limiting any additional spending. Just what these actions will be remains to be determined.

For those of you who are monitoring the proposal for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a rural subsistence priority for the use of Alaska's fish and game resources, please voice your opinions by voting on my online snap poll. My web page can be accessed at www.akrepublicans.org. Your input will be helpful.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or to let me know your thoughts on issues that will impact you and your family. My Anchorage office is closed for the session but you can contact me in Juneau, toll free, at 866-465-4993, send a letter, or email me at Senator_Ben_Stevens@legis.state.ak.us.

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