Editor’s note: Here are excerpts from Senator Murkowski’s update from Capitol Hill
Column of Dec. 19. Read the full update online at https://www.murkowski.senate.gov/press/newsletters
It’s been a busy December, overhauling our nation’s outdated tax code and moving
one step closer to achieving the decades long goal of opening a small portion of the 1002 Area within the non-wilderness portion of ANWR to responsible resource development. Here’s a quick update with what’s been happening here in D.C. and how it may impact you. As always, you can keep track of what I’m working on for Alaska in the U.S. Senate by following me on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Tax Reform: On December 2, the Senate passed a comprehensive tax reform package that aims to encourage the economic growth needed to create jobs and generate wealth, while reducing taxes. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act contains a section I wrote that opens a small portion of non-wilderness 1002 Area of ANWR for responsible energy development. It is a small area with big potential for both Alaska and our nation. Allowing responsible development generates new wealth, reduces both immediate deficits and long-term debts, creates high-paying jobs, refills the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, strengthens our national security, and helps keep energy affordable for families and businesses.
Title I of the tax reform bill provides relief for hardworking Alaskans and their families by doubling the standard deduction, doubling the child tax credit and increasing the refundability, and reducing the tax brackets at every income level. It stimulates economic growth and takes the actions we need to get the economy back on track. Ninety-nine percent of the businesses in Alaska are small businesses, so reducing their overall tax burden and allowing for full expensing will be an important benefit.
- Improving Access to Healthcare: The Senate recently passed my bill which provides a land transfer of 19.07 acres in Sitka, improving access to healthcare throughout Southeast Alaska. This legislation will allow for a much needed expansion by Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) by providing a potential future site for both primary and acute care facilities, as well as employee housing.
- 477 Legislation to the President’s Desk: The Senate unanimously passed Tribal Employment and Training legislation. This bill will strengthen and reform the “477 Program”, a comprehensive Native employment and training program aimed to improve the quality of life in every region of Alaska through innovative workforce development initiatives, expanding self-sufficiency and employment opportunities of Alaska Natives and American Indians.
- A Boost for Local Economies: My bipartisan legislation with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to boost local economies, jobs, and small businesses passed the Senate Banking Committee. The legislation gives local credit unions more flexibility to offer loans to small businesses, allowing treatment of loans for small residential buildings as residential loans with lower interest rates. By correcting this disparity, we are not only providing individuals with better access to loans, but also working to stimulate economic growth.
- Monument Designation: Responding to local input, President Trump signed presidential proclamations reducing the size of two national monuments, Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante, both located in Utah. The Antiquities Act has been misused in recent administrations to make sweeping withdrawals that ignore local concerns. Lost in those decisions have been the voices of the people who actually live in the areas affected by these designations. The proclamations issued by the President reduce two of Utah’s monuments to a more appropriate size, in keeping with the intent of the law, while continuing to protect areas of historical and scientific significance.I previously introduced a bill called the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act, to facilitate greater local input and require state approval before national monuments can be designated on federal lands and waters.