Hello again. With three weeks left until the legislature’s scheduled adjournment on Sunday, April 19, the Capitol building is a busy place. While Senate and House committees continue their discussions on various bills, the Senate Finance Committee will be holding additional hearings on next year’s Operating Budget (HB 72) including public testimony early this week. A Senate floor vote on the budget is scheduled for Thursday, April 2.
As you know, declining oil revenues have put us in a position of budget cuts that will impact all state agencies. If you have the time, I encourage you to add your comments to the record durning the Senate Finance Committee’s budget hearings.
Public Testimony Schedule
Public testimony on the budget will be taken through Senate District P’s Legislative Information Offices at the following times:
Cordova, Monday, March 30 at 6 pm.
Homer, Tuesday, March 31 at 10:30 am.
Kenai Area and Kodiak, Tuesday, March 31 at 2:30 pm.
The Seante Finance Committee asks that anyone wishing to testify on the budget arrive 15 minutes prior to the end of the allotted time period or testimony will close early. If you are a member of a group with the same message, in the interest of time, they also ask that a spokesperson is selected testify for the entire group.
If you live in a community with a legislative information office, but are unable to access it during the specified time period, you may send your written testimony to the Senate Finance Committee via email@example.com
The 24-Hour Rule
Following the Senate vote, the budget bill will be returned to the House for concurrence with our changes. In the highly-likely event the House does not accept the Senate changes, three members from each legislative body will be appointed to a conference committee to iron-out the differences between the two budgets. Once the conference committee is appointed, the work of legislative committees will fall under the 24-Hour Rule. This means bills and resolutions may receive a committee hearing with a twenty-four hour notice, and legislation can move quickly to a floor vote.
If you have any questions regarding the status of bills and resolutions, do not hesitate to call my office or the LIO in your community for assistance.
Personal Legislation Update
SB 75 passed the Senate State Affairs Committee on Tuesday, March 24th and is awaiting a hearing by the Senate Finance Committee. The bill will give Alaska federally recognized tribal governments the ability to take part in the Permanent Fund Dividend’s popular Pick.Click.Give. program should they choose. Thank you to the staff of the Native Village of Afognak for approaching me about this idea, and for their assistance in developing and supporting the bill.
SCR 1 had its first hearing in the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, March 26th. This legislation creates a task force to explore how to provide civics education to students to give them a better understanding of what citizenship means.
Thanks to all who answered my recent survey on marijuana legislation. More than twice the number of people on the District P e-mail list responded to survey after it was reposted on social media sites. Of that total, nearly 83% of the respondents said they voted to both legalize and commercialize marijuana in Alaska, compared to 6% who supported legalization only. About 85% of the respondents said they support marijuana businesses in their communities. About 71% of the respondents do not favor the state making marijuana concentrates illegal.
As you may know, the deadline to file for this year’s Permanent Fund Dividend is Tuesday, March 31. If you’ve not already done so, I encourage you to file your application soon. If you need a paper application, please stop by the Legislative Information Offices in Cordova, Homer, Kenai and Kodiak.
On the subject of the PFD, we’re interested to know how you filled out your application, how you use your dividend, and your thoughts in general on the PFD. If you have a moment, please fill out this brief, online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PY63FZN
District P Newsmakers
Congratulations to Katie Koester, who was recently hired as Homer’s new city manager. I have had the opportunity to work with Katie during her time as a member of Representative Paul Seaton’s legislative staff, and through her work with the City of Homer. I look forward to working with Katie in her new capacity.
Congratulations to the Ninilchik Senior Citizens Center on its 35th birthday. The center’s services to the community are greatly appreciated.
Congratulations to the Seldovia Sea Otters, winners of this month’s Alaska 1A boy’s basketball championship. The title is the first in school history.
Congratulations to the Homer Peewee C Team their second consecutive state hockey championship earlier this month.bv
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, 120 4th Street, State Capitol, Room 3, Juneau, AK 99801.
You can E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading this edition of the Capitol Report. Please keep in touch and let us know if we can be of any assistance to you.