Events and Legislation Highlights
NORTHERN WATERS TASK FORCE
The Task Force’s final report is finally complete. Those interested can view it on the website (www.anwtf.com), or go to the direct link here: http://www.housemajority.org/coms/anw/pdfs/27/NWTF_Full_Report_Color.pdf (Large file - almost 5 MB).
I’m privileged to have been a part of the Task Force and proud of the work completed: the Final Report is by far the broadest and clearest statement of Alaska’s Arctic Policy to date. I would like to thank Chairman Reggie Joule and his staff for all their work, all the Task Force members, and particularly all who participated in the public hearings across the state.
The three priority recommendations highlighted in the report were:
1. Providing Alaskans with opportunities to be involved in Arctic policy. This is an ongoing state, federal, and local process which priority #2 will help address.
2. Creating an Alaskan Arctic Commission, which will enable Alaska to be better prepared and to develop a state strategy for the Arctic. HCR 23 establishing the Alaskan Arctic Commission was introduced today and I will actively support it. View the legislation here: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?session=27&bill=HCR23
3. Urge the United States Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Ratification is vital for many reasons, including for the United States to claim sovereignty of the Arctic seafloor more than 200 miles off Alaska’s north coast and for Alaska to reap the economic benefits that will be derived therefrom. Last session, my Resolution, HJR 19, supporting ratification passed the Legislature: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/27/Bills/HJR019Z.PDF
RESOLUTION ENCOURAGING CONGRESS TO FUND ICEBREAKERS AND AN ARCTIC COAST GUARD BASE
I am sponsoring another piece of legislation arising out of the Northern Waters Task Force Recommendations: HJR 34. The Resolution was introduced today on the House Floor and assigned to Military & Veteran Affairs and State Affairs Committees. The United States currently only has one operational polar icebreaker, the Healy, and no Arctic Coast Guard Base – the closest base to the Bering Strait is currently over 900 miles away in Kodiak. The Resolution highlights this lamentable lack of icebreakers and an Arctic Coast Guard Base. It’s my hope that this resolution will forward the discussion regarding these needs and eventually help to convince the powers that be in DC to fund additional icebreakers and an Arctic Coast Guard Base. You can read the Resolution and associated documents here: http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_bill.asp?session=27&bill=HJR34
HB 256: DEMANDING BETTER FOR OUR STUDENTS
This Wednesday, February 1, 2012, I testified before the House Education Committee on House Bill 256, support of Yupiit School District and all rural students. I am a co-sponsor of the bill, which would guide the State to more constructive and collaborative relationships with intervention districts. A little history:
Senate Bill 285, passed in 2008, served to implement Judge Sharon Gleason’s mandate in the Moore v. State of Alaska case. In the Moore case, Judge Gleason noted that the Department of Education and Early Development should do more to intervene in schools where annual yearly progress had been stymied for years. With last week’s settlement of the case, that aspect of SB 285 is on its way to completion.
At the same time, it is important that the Department work collaboratively with school districts in intervention. SB 285 gave the Department the ability to withhold finances to a district. This is the tool the Department has consistently chosen to use, even while more appropriate tools are available.
HB 256 removes the hammer from the Department, leaving the tools of cooperation on best practices with which to help districts improve.
PFD APPLICATIONS DUE MARCH 31, 2012
For those who haven’t applied for their dividends, why wait? I encourage you to apply on-line today at the PFD website – be sure to save your confirmation email.
VISITORS FROM HOME TO THE CAPITOL
·Ron Hoffman, President/CEO, AVCP Housing Authority
·Robert Nick, Chairman, AVCP HA
·Allen Joseph, Grant Writer, AVCP HA
·Joe Klejka, Mayor, City of Bethel
·Gene Peltola, Vice Mayor, City of Bethel
·Kurt Kuhne, Executive Director, Yuut Elitnaurviat