AMHS up for hearing in House Transportation on February 15

Links offered to matters before House Special Committee on Fisheries

Rep. Louise Stutes, House District 32

Greetings from Juneau,

I wanted to give you a quick update on how things are going down here.

Last week, the House passed HB 287 which seeks to early-fund education. After years of delayed budget action in the legislature, pink-slips have become an annual source of dread for our teachers who are choosing more and more often to leave the state in search of stability. HB 287 takes education out of the line of fire and allows school districts to budget without worrying whether the legislature will pass the operating budget on time. Stability in education funding results in a stable learning environment for our youth.

Speaking of stability, the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has suffered similar problems in their ability to provide an annual sailing calendar due to legislative inaction. The AMHS Reform Steering Committee will be in front of the House Transportation Committee on Feb. 15th, at 1:00 p.m. to talk about the need for reform and a possible transition of the AMHS to a public corporation. Tune in to www.akl.tv to watch the meeting.

I have some good news to report that I’m sure most of you are already aware of. Early in the morning on Feb. 9, Congress passed a spending bill that included $200 million for various fisheries disasters. Among those included are the 2016 Gulf of Alaska pink salmon fisheries.

At my initial request in the Fall of 2016, Governor Walker petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare a fisheries disaster for pink salmon runs across the Gulf of Alaska. In January of 2017, former U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker accepted the State’s request and officially declared those fisheries a disaster. This provided the initial framework to receive funding. Since that time, myself, other coastal legislators, and the State of Alaska have been meeting with and writing letters to our Congressional Delegation to ensure that funding was put into a supplemental bill.

Although it took longer than any of us would have liked and the funding will be spread thin across multiple fisheries disasters, I am reserving judgment until it is determined what proportion of that funding Alaska will receive. This is what I know so far: $200 million for fisheries disaster relief will be distributed to NOAA. We are speaking with the Governor’s office daily to determine how much of that funding Alaska will receive, what the process will be for fishermen to access those funds, and when we can expect distribution. I will send an update as soon as I know more.

Fisheries Committee Last Week:

Last week, the House Fisheries Committee heard presentations on the permitting process from the Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Environmental Conservation. You can watch the meetings by typing in the following links:

Tuesday, February 6: Presentation on the permitting process from the Department of Fish and Game:

goo.gl/LkTyzW

Thursday, February 8: Presentation on the permitting process from the Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Environmental Conservation:
goo.gl/7vGt6x

 

Fisheries Committee This Week:

Earlier this week on Tuesday, the House Fisheries Committee heard and held HB 272-Tangle Lakes State Game Refuge, sponsored by Representative Josephson and HB 149-Boards of Fisheries and Game Meetings, sponsored by Representative Chenault.

You can watch the hearing of those two bills here:

goo.gl/cpjTj2

HB 272 would establish a game refuge on approximately 156,000 acres of state land in the Tangle Lakes region, north of the Denali Highway and west of the Richardson Highway.

To learn more about this bill, you can view the documents here:

goo.gl/wq14RK

HB 149 would change the three-year meeting cycle to five years and adds Kenai to the Southcentral region as a location to hold Board of Fisheries meetings.

To learn more about this bill, you can view the documents here:

goo.gl/rHpLKe

Today, February 15th, at 11 a.m. the committee will hear a presentation by the Department of Natural Resources on its permitting process. Tune in to www.akl.tv to watch the meeting. You can also find the presentation on BASIS here:

goo.gl/vhDdUZ

Committee schedules are released on Thursday afternoon and I will send another update in next Monday’s paper with the weekly schedule and public testimony opportunities. The schedule will also be posted on my Facebook page by Friday.

As always, please contact me and tell me how you feel. Whether your thoughts are on the budget, new revenue, fisheries or transportation issues, or something that is important to you and your family, I’m here for you and will always endeavor to work on your behalf.

Sincerely,

 

Louise Stutes

State House Representative for District 32

Proudly Serving Kodiak, Cordova, Yakutat, and Seldovia

Rep.Louise.Stutes@akleg.gov

(907) 465-2487

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