June 29, 2016
How to Get Involved:
- Write emails to the Finance Committee
- Letters to the editor
make a difference. You can send a letter of up to 200 words (shorter letters are more likely to be accepted) to the Alaska Dispatch News by email; or by fax or mail (call them at 257-4308).
Send letters to the Anchorage Press via email or by mail to 540 E. Fifth Ave, Anchorage, 99501.
- Contact the Governor
The Governor can be reached at 269-7450; or alaska.gov.
In this issue:
• Special Session Report
• Upcoming Special Session Agenda
• Survey – Your help needed
• Meet Ivy – Constituent Picnic today!
• APU Master Plan Amendments
On Saturday, June 18th, the House gaveled out of the Special Session with the Senate gaveling out the following day. We accomplished a lot during this time, but failed to reach consensus on some of the most important elements on the agenda. Here is a summary of what happened followed by an update on the NEXT special session scheduled to start on July 11th and some information on local events of interest.
Here are the issues that were on the last special session agenda:
1. Capital and operating budgets passed with funding from the Constitutional Budget Reserve. The Alaska Legislature passed the smallest operating and capital budgets in many years. Of course there is more that can be done to: 1) protect those that are most vulnerable and 2) cut wasteful spending. If you missed my earlier report on the budgets, go to my webpage to read my June 3rd report on the budget.
2. Oil and gas tax credit and subsidy reform (HB 247) We made some progress with eliminating the Cook Inlet Gas credits that were necessary several years ago but which have achieved their goal of supporting development of gas projects in Cook Inlet. However, the version of HB 247 that passed left over $400M in annual subsidies for the oil and gas industry statewide. These subsidies were a smart way to support new project development when we had extra funds. However, in these tight budget times, we need to be careful about this kind of spending especially when the legislature is now considering reducing the permanent fund dividend and instituting new revenue to fund government services and operations. Otherwise, the state could be asking individual Alaskans to give up part of their PFD to pay out subsidies to oil and gas companies.
3. Improving adoption and guardianship for children, and instituting reforms to the foster care system; I am thrilled that we passed HB 27 and HB 200 which require the Office of Children’s Services to work harder to place foster children with family members, keep them in their home school and streamline family and tribal adoption processes.
4. Reform to the state’s insurance laws This bill modified the existing statutes to help folks with higher cost medical issues better access the state health care system.
What didn’t pass
1. Restructuring the Permanent Fund to sustainably fund the State’s operations regardless of the price of oil. It passed the senate, but didn’t make it out of the House Finance Committee.
2. Revenue increases on motor fuel, fisheries and mining--never made it to a vote.
3. Revenue increases on alcoholic beverages, tobacco and a personal income tax. None of these bills made it to the House floor for a vote.
4. Providing medical insurance coverage for the families of police officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty. The House voted to pass this important bill, but I’m sad to report that the Senate leadership refused to hold a vote on the bill. As the daughter of a police officer, I know very well the risks that law enforcement professionals face every day. They deserve the knowledge that we will care for their loved ones should they make the ultimate sacrifice.
Upcoming Special Session
Governor Walker has called the legislature into a “Revenue Only” Special Session beginning July 11th focused on:
1. Restructuring the Permanent Fund, and the way the dividend is funded
2. Revenue measures including a state income tax, a state-wide sales tax, and changes to existing taxes on motor fuels, alcoholic beverages, mining, fisheries, and tobacco products
3. Reforms to the state’s oil and gas tax and subsidy system
Special Session Survey
In preparation for the next Special Session, I am reaching out to constituents again to ask for your help in prioritizing District 16’s agenda. Please take 2 minutes to complete this 10 question survey which will help me better represent East Anchorage.
Constituent Picnic tonight Wednesday, June 29th, 6-7:30pm.
Come join me and Senator Bill Wielechowski at North Russian Jack Park, 801 Pine Street (under the pavilion near the Polar Bear Playground).
APU Master Plan
APU is looking to amend its master plan to allow for development around their campus. They have partnered with Pfeffer Development to create additional commercial spaces should the Municipality of Anchorage’s Planning and Zoning Commission approve the master plan changes. You can review the application here. Submit your comments on or before July 11th when the Planning and Zoning Commission plans to take this up.
For more information contact Corliss Kimmel at 343-7943 or KimmelCA@ci.anchorage.ak.us. The Planning and Zoning Commission will meet July 11th, at 6:30pm in the Assembly Chambers at the Z.J. Loussac Library, 3600 Denali Street. You can testify in person at the meeting or send in your comments. You can review the full document here. There is a link in the lower left hand corner where you can “submit Case comments” as well.
Please reach out to me anytime at my office at (907) 269-0123. You can also reach me by Facebook or email at Rep.Ivy.Spohnholz@akleg.gov. I am here to serve you!