Greetings from Juneau,
It was wonderful to see and hear from so many of you last weekend at the LIO open house and the tanner crab celebration. The many smiling faces were contagious after 30 years without a Prince William Sound tanner crab opening!
I want to thank you all for your support and for sharing your concerns with me while I was there. As the House finishes up its work on the operating budget and resumes regular committee hearings, heading up to Cordova for the weekend was the perfect way to reenergize for the final stretch here in Juneau.
As I write this (it’s Monday), the House is still working through floor amendments to the FY19 operating budget. All told, there are 84 amendments being debated on the House Floor.
The most controversial, in my mind, happened today (Monday). Amendment #1 passed the House by one vote. It increases state spending by $900 million to fully fund the Permanent Fund Dividend.
I voted no and here’s why. We have heard year after year from the experts that fully funding the dividend without new revenue will result in the program going away entirely in less than five years.
This means, under the plan adopted on the House floor, you will receive a full PFD for another 4 or 5 years, and then nothing after that. While I understand how important these PFD dollars are to rural Alaskans, I believe it is irresponsible to fully fund the PFD with the current fiscal situation of the state. We need a fiscal plan that ensures the continuation of the program for future generations.
Please email me at Rep.Louise.Stutes@akleg.gov or call my office at 465-4087 with your comments and concerns on this important issue.
Fisheries Next Tuesday:
Next Tuesday, April 3rd, at 10 a.m. the House Fisheries Committee will be introducing a new committee substitute (CS) to HB 199, explaining the changes, and taking committee questions. We had originally planned on hearing the CS yesterday, but the draft needed another revision to get it fine-tuned. The changes in the CS are substantial and I believe the new version will be a workable product for industry, as well as a much needed update to our fish habitat permitting law. We will be taking public and invited testimony at a subsequent hearing. I am hesitant to provide an exact date and time for testimony as I am writing this, but I anticipate it being next week. Please go to https://goo.gl/gHBVhq in your web browser to view the fisheries schedule and confirm the time for public testimony.
Fisheries Next Thursday:
It was our intention last week to hold confirmation hearings for two appointees to the Board of Fisheries: Duncan Fields of Kodiak, and Orville Huntington of Huslia. Unfortunately, due to the operating budget debate on the House Floor, we were unable to hold our scheduled meetings.
Next Thursday, April 5th, at 10 a.m. the House Fisheries Committee will be holding the confirmation hearings and public testimony for Duncan and Orville. Duncan is facing some pretty fierce opposition from sport fishing sectors and we will need all hands on deck for public testimony. The call-in number for public testimony is 1-844-586-9085.
Needless to say, having a representative on the Board of Fisheries from our district is a rare opportunity that would be invaluable for our region. If you would like to submit written testimony, please send it to HouseFisheries@akleg.gov and I will make sure it is added to the public record and distributed to committee members.
File for your PFD
Tomorrow, Saturday, March 31, is the last day to file for your PFD.
If you have not done so, please go to pfd.alaska.gov to apply online or to find out how to apply by mail. Mailed applications must be POSTMARKED no later than March 31st to be considered timely.
Every Friday, I post the legislative schedule for the following week to my Facebook page. Your input is crucial in the crafting of legislation and I want to encourage you to check the schedule at the end of each week so you do not miss any chances to testify.
If you would like to take part in any of the public testimony opportunities on any bills of interest, please let my office know by calling 465-4648, or by emailing me at Rep.Louise.Stutes@akleg.gov
All meetings can be viewed at www.akl.tv
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.
State House Representative for District 32
Proudly Serving Kodiak, Cordova, Yakutat, and Seldovia