Legislative Update: A salute to the Coast Guard for all they do

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I want to take a moment to acknowledge Cordova’s residents, particularly the men and women of the Coast Guard and their families, who are affected by the continued government shutdown in Washington D.C. 

I have spoken to our congressional delegation and it goes without saying that they are doing everything in their power to break the stalemate. I know all too well where we would be without you and I just want to say that we, as a community, appreciate you and the life-saving services you provide for our loved ones. My prayers are with you for a swift resolution.

What’s Going on in Juneau?

As stated in my recent update, negotiations to form a majority in the House are still ongoing. While I would rather be holding committee hearings, I can assure you that we are working hard towards a solution.

The administration and the Senate are looking to make very deep cuts to the budget and forming a majority with strong coastal representation is the only way to protect our communities and rural way of life. The bottom line is, it is worth taking the time to get this right.

In the meantime, we are moving forward with what work we can. Although official work begins in committee, the House is holding informational hearings for legislators and staff on our state’s job forecast from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the state’s revenue forecast from the Department of Revenue, as well as an economic outlook from the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER).

Under normal circumstances (the House being organized), the House Finance Committee would be hearing presentations to prepare members for the budget process. In this instance, the Governor has not transmitted the new budget and has until Feb. 13th to do so. In light of that, the House is going forward with presentations this week ahead of the formal committee process to better prepare all members and their staff to act on that budget once it is received.

2016 GOA pink salmon disaster relief update

I met with the Governor’s Office earlier this week to see if there was any news from NOAA on when an application process might be in place.

According to the most current information, NOAA still expects an application process in place sometime February that will run through April. Further, payment distribution is slated to occur from April through June. I would strongly caution against viewing this timeline as anything more than an estimate at this point, however, as there are many factors, the shutdown being one, that can affect the speed at which the federal government moves.

The governor has assigned a point person in the administration to monitor NOAA’s progress and keep us informed. For my part, I will keep you informed as best I can.

I will update you in the newspaper, on Facebook, and via email as soon as I have more particulars about when/where/how to apply.  Please email my fisheries aide, Matt Gruening, at matt.gruening@akleg.gov if you would like to be added to our disaster relief update list.

Remember, I work for you, so please do not hesitate to reach out to me with your thoughts on this issue.

Sincerely,

Louise Stutes

Louise Stutes is the State House Representative for District 32 proudly serving Kodiak, Cordova, Yakutat and Seldovia. Reach her at rep.louise.stutes@akleg.gov or (907) 465-2487. Follow her at facebook.com/RepLouiseStutes or twitter.com/RepLouiseStutes.