Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With the session well-underway and the Senate Committees working diligently on numerous bills and, of course, the Fiscal Year 2023 state budget, I am pleased to report some progress on my personal legislation.
One of these bills on the move is SB 33, which extends the state’s salmon and herring product development tax credit. The bill also adds similar tax credits for value-added processing in the pollock and cod industries.
In 2003, I sponsored the original legislation creating the Alaska Salmon Product Development Tax Credit. This program is credited as being a major factor in the increase in commercial value of Alaska salmon. A later bill extended the salmon tax credits and expanded the program to include tax credits for herring value-added processing.
I expect SB 33 to advance to a vote of the full Senate very soon.
SB 32 advanced from the House State Affairs Committee on Feb. 3. The aim of the bill is to expand public high school students’ access to college coursework by providing a way for school districts to partner with the University of Alaska to earn dual high school and college credit.
Often called “middle colleges,” dual-credit programs have successfully operated for many years. In Alaska, several school districts are also now participating or developing middle college programs of their own, in collaboration with the University of Alaska. Passage of SB 32 will provide a framework to increase middle college opportunities for students throughout Alaska. The bill does require enrollment in an Alaska public school for participation, with availability to students who have completed the eighth grade. SB 32 requires an annual report to the legislature on student participation, course offerings and the total number of earned credits.
I am hoping to have SB 32 on the House floor for a vote soon.
I anticipate another hearing soon by the Senate Finance Committee on Senate Bill 45, which was first heard by the committee on Feb. 2. The bill’s passage would align state law with federal law by bringing the minimum age to sell or possess tobacco and electronic smoking products (ESPs) from 19 to 21. SB 45 also adds ESPs to the existing wholesale tax structure for other products.
SB 72 was heard by the Senate on Feb. 1. The bill is intended to improve awareness of the importance of civics education among our students. If SB 72 is passed into law, the State Board of Education and Early Development would develop curriculum and related assessment based on the civics portion of the naturalization examination administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship. The curriculum and assessment must also include systems of Alaska Tribal government.
Passage of civics would also be required for a high school diploma. Exceptions would be made for students with a disability and those who receive a waiver from their local school board.
I expect the Senate Finance Committee to take up SB 72 again soon.
BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS APPOINTMENTS
Congratulations to Sara Faulkner of Homer, who has been reappointed to the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board, and Taylor Friend of Kodiak, who has been appointed to the Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Thanks to both Sara and Taylor for their willingness to lend their time and expertise to the state.
If you are interested in serving on one of Alaska’s boards and commissions, you can find more information on the internet at: https://gov.alaska.gov/services/boards-and-commissions/
PERMANENT FUND DIVIDEND APPLICATIONS
You can apply for the 2022 PFD now through March 31. The quickest and easiest way to apply is online at www.pfd.alaska.gov.
Online applications requesting direct deposit are eligible to receive the 2021 payment in the first disbursement at the beginning of October.
If you are applying by mail, I urge your sending the application by certified mail and request a return receipt to ensure it is received by the PFD office.
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, and the State of Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Division.
You can get more information on the program online at: https://www.pickclickgive.org.
KEEPING TRACK OF THE LEGISLATURE
You can track the work of the Senate Majority on the Internet at: www.alaskasenate.org. The site provides a wealth of information on the Majority’s efforts and our membership.
Juneau Public Television Station KTOO produces Gavel Alaska, which broadcasts live and recorded coverage of floor sessions and committee hearings. The programming is also on the Internet at: www.ktoo.org/gavel.
AlaskaLegislature.tv offers live coverage of meetings from the Capitol’s many committee rooms. The service is provided by the legislature.
You can also access information on any bills and resolutions introduced during the 32nd Alaska Legislature through the Bill Action and Status Inquiry System (BASIS) on the Internet at: www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/start.asp.
PLEASE KEEP IN TOUCH
Please let me know your thoughts on the many matters coming before the legislature. If you have the time, I hope you will add your comments to the record as bills and resolutions are heard by legislative committees.
Send me emails at: Sen.Gary.Stevens@akleg.gov
My Capitol phone numbers are 1-800-821-4925 or 907-465-4925.
Thank you for reading this edition of the Capitol Report. I look forward to sharing more information on our work in Juneau in a few weeks.