Hello again from Juneau.
We are almost a third of the way through this year’s legislative session. With committee meetings, floor sessions and the like, there is a lot going on in the Capitol right now. Of course, a lot of work remains before adjournment on Sunday, April 15, but we are optimistic we will finish by then.
The Budget Process
As mentioned previously, I am serving on the Senate Finance Committee this year. Tasked with the responsibility of developing the budget and debating any bill that has a financial impact to the state, Finance is a busy and interesting committee. I am enjoying my role on the committee and am pleased to be able to give District P a seat at the table as we develop the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.
Early Education Funding
On Feb. 7th, the House voted 34-4 to pass HB 287. It calls for funding education separately, with the idea that its early passage will help remove uncertainty school administrators face in developing their district’s budgets and retaining good teachers and other personnel. Although the bill received great support, unfortunately, the House did not identify a funding source for the bill, leaving its fate uncertain.
HB 287 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration. If passed by the Senate, HB 287 will be effective for just FY ’19. A permanent solution to this problem is SB 131, which I have sponsored. The bill ensures passage of a separate education budget by the first day of April each year. SB 131 is awaiting a Senate Finance Committee hearing.
Personal Legislation on the Move
On Jan. 31, the Senate State Affairs Committee passed SB 8. The bill is awaiting a hearing by the Senate Finance Committee. The idea behind to bill is to give Alaska’s federally recognized tribal governments the ability to take part in the Permanent Fund Dividend’s popular Pick.Click.Give. program should they choose.
The Senate Finance Committee will be hearing SB 15 on Friday, Feb. 16. The bill is intended to ban sales of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, and similar products to minors.
You can find more information on these bills and my other personal legislation online at: http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Member/Detail/30?code=STG#tab7_3
File for Your PFD
The 2018 Permanent Fund Dividend application period continues through Saturday, March 31st. The easiest way to apply is via the PFD Division’s website at www.pfd.alaska.gov. If you are applying by mail, please send your application by certified mail and request a return receipt for your records.
Several local nonprofit organizations are participating in the Pick.Click.Give. program again this year. The program offers you the opportunity to donate all, or part of your PFD in $25 increments to the nonprofit organization of your choice.
Pick.Click.Give is run by the Alaska Community Foundation in partnership with the Rasmuson Foundation, the Foraker Group, United Way of Anchorage, and the State of Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Division.
You can get more information on the program through the PFD Division’s website.
This week, school board members from around the state will be in the Capitol to advocate for public education as part of the Alaska School Board Association’s Fly-in. We will also be seeing several of Alaska’s harbormasters and members of the Farm Bureau this week.
It was great to see Yakutat City and Borough officials during their recent trip to Juneau. Among other recent visitors from Senate District P were business owners taking part in the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce Fly-in. We also had a chance to talk with managers and board members of Cordova Electric Cooperative, Homer Electric Association, and Kodiak Electric Association, who were in Juneau for the Alaska Power Association’s State Legislative Conference.
When you finalize your travel plans to Juneau, please give my office a call so we can make sure to find a time to get together while you are here.
Session Contact Information
Your thoughts on the many matters under consideration in Juneau are always welcome. You can reach me by phone at 1-800-821-4925 and in Juneau at 465-4925. My fax number is 465-3517.
My mailing address is: Senator Gary Stevens, Alaska State Legislature, 120 4th Street, State Capitol, Room 3, Juneau, AK 99801
You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading this edition of the Capitol Report. I look forward to giving you another update on legislature’s work in a few weeks.