A little over three months remain in the interim, but it will not be long before legislators return to the Capitol in Juneau as Governor Walker has called us into this year’s third special session, which is scheduled to begin Saturday, October 24th. During the special session, we will consider two key issues related to development of a liquefied natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to tidewater at a cost of $45-65 billion. The special session could last thirty days.
Special Session Agenda
Part of the discussion will center on the governor’s proposal to buy out TransCanada’s share of the natural gas pipeline, which he believes will give the state a seat at the negotiating table with industry as the project comes to fruition. With an estimated cost of at least $70 million for the buyout you can expect a thorough debate on its risks and rewards before any decision is reached.
The governor is also asking legislators to reinstate a reserve tax on undeveloped North Slope resources, similar to a bill passed in 1975 allowing the collection of oil revenue before construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. In 2006, Alaskans voted on a reserves tax ballot measure, with 65% of voters saying no to the tax. Some lawmakers have already stated objections to the idea, which they feel is punitive toward industry, and I expect this proposal to receive heavy scrutiny as well.
I look forward to learning more about both of these issues in the special session and sharing that information with you. As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments on our work.
If you have the time, I encourage you to tune into live coverage of the special session through Juneau public television station’s Gavel Alaska and on the internet at: http://www.360north.org.
On Thursday, October 1st, direct deposits were entered into bank accounts, and checks were mailed to Alaskans meeting the eligibility requirements for this year’s $2,072 Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). This year’s PFD amount tops the previous high of $2069 in 2008.
Officials are still reviewing many applications to determine eligibility, a process which can take some time to complete. Legislative offices and the Legislative Information Offices can look into the status of applications to determine what steps may need to be taken to complete an application, but do not have the ability to force a PFD payment or intervene in an appeal.
District P Newsmakers
Thank you to the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, the local police, state troopers, Kodiak Mayor Pat Branson, members of the legal community, social workers and school district personnel who joined Kodiak Representative Louise Stutes and myself on Monday, October 5th for a well-attended community meeting on the island’s serious drug problem. Thank you, too, to all those who joined us for the discussion. It was a great opportunity to share perspectives and hear from the public on this critical issue.
Congratulations to the Homer High School Girls Cross Country Team, winners of the 3A Alaska State Championship earlier this month. This is the second straight cross country state title for the Mariners.
Congratulations to Dr. Bob Crumley, Superintendent of the Chugach School District, on being named the Alaska Superintendents Association’s (ASA) Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Crumley has been leading the district, which includes Senate District P schools in Chenga and Tatitlek, for over a decade. He is a past recipient of the Alaska Performance Excellence Award, the Malcom Baldridge National Quality Award for Excellence in Education, and the New American High School Award. ASA has forwarded his name for consideration for the 2016 National Superintendent of the Year Award.
Congratulations to the City of Cordova on the completion of the Cordova Center. City offices are moving into the new facility this month. A grand opening celebration is scheduled for Friday, November 6th.
Congratulations to Cordova’s Cathy Pegau on the upcoming publication of the mystery novel Murder on the Last Frontier. The book is set in Cordova in 1819 and is the first in a series of novels she is writing.
Congratulations to Homer High School student Falcom Greear on his selection to the National Association for Music Education mixed choir All-National Ensemble. Falcom is one of 673 students selected for the ensemble nationwide.
Congratulations too all those elected to office in the local elections on Tuesday, October 6th. I wish you the best as you work on the many matters affecting our communities in the years ahead. Thank you as well to all of the others who put their names on the ballot for your commitment to serving your communities.
A Moment to Brag
My wife, Rita, and I were pleased to be present last month when our son, Matt, was presented the Innovation Award at the Burbank International Film Festival for his feature film Twelve. Matt’s award, along with our daughter, Anna, being named one of Alaska’s Top Forty Under Forty, and the wedding of our daughter, Natalie, next month, has made this a banner year for the Stevens’ children and we could not be happier or prouder.
Help With State Issues
Senate District P’s legislative offices are available to assist you with issues involving state government throughout the year. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call.
The Homer office can be reached at 235-0690. The fax number is: 235-4008.
The phone number for the Kodiak office is 486-4925. The fax number is: 486-5264.
The State Capitol office can be reached toll free at 1-800-821-4925. The fax number is: 465-3517.
E-mail me at: email@example.com.
Thank you for reading this edition of the Interim Report. I will update you on the special session in November’s column.