From the Desk of Rep. Paul Seaton
Feb. 27, 2012
Greetings from Juneau on this 42nd day of the 90-day session. We have been very busy this past week though it has not been in movement of bills. The week before final entry of capital requests is always hectic. We have also been trying to work out details of Alaska gasline encouragement with a bill that will allow State coordination and possible participation in any of several large transmission lines, North Slope or otherwise. We have also focused on LNG gas storage tanks for communities and exploration of ‘new’ basins across the State, all the while keeping an ear to the hearings on the Senate side about potential oil and gas tax proposals.
A number of constituents have been concerned about hydraulic fracturing fluids and I have been talking with the AOGCC about disclosure of the contents of the actual fluids. There is currently a voluntary reporting at FracFocus but the AOGCC is considering adding a regulation to require such disclosure for Alaska.
House Finance Committee is now scheduled to hear my Pick-Click-Give bill and Prohibition of Sale of Nicotine to Minors this week.
Last week we were pleased to visit with Anna Fisher, Katie Kirsis, Hanna Mikois, Susan Drathman, David Branding, Peg Coleman, Rachel Romberg, and Jessica Lawmaster all from Homer.
Last week we heard from Superintendents Duncan Ware of Delta Greely School District, Phil Knight of Aleutians East Borough School District, and Rich Carlson of Klawock School District. Bills heard last week were HB 242, SB 8, HB 256 and HB 330. HB 242 Public school funding: Digital Learning, establishes a “digital learning funding factor” in law to assist school districts to implement a full range of digital technology solutions. The factor is added as a multiplier in the student based formula that is used to determine the funding for each school district. SB 8 seeks to increase participation in the biennial Youth Risk Assessment Survey in order to meet the 60 percent participation required by the Center for Disease Control for the survey to be validated for assessment recording and reporting of reliable results. HB 256 repeals provisions relating to the power and duties of the Department of Education and Early Development to intervene in a school district to improve instructional practices. HB 330 establishes a Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Standards; requiring the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to provide information and resources to the task force; establishing state education standards; amending the authority of the Department of Education and Early Development to adopt education standards.
On Monday we will have a presentation by Superintendent Mike Brawner of Nome School District. Then we will hear HB 272 which would allow students who go to school in Alaska and stay here after completing their approved courses an interest reduction of their student loans. HB 242 Digital Learning will be heard again. At Wednesday’s meeting we will have a presentation from Superintendent Jacob Jensen, Valdez School District and a continuing discussion of HB 272. On Friday we will hear from Superintendent Jeff Thielbar, Skagway School District and hear HB 313 that would base the funding for each school district in the state on the count for the preceding fiscal year instead of the current count. This bill needs some work because larger school districts that have significant fluctuations from one year to the next would be adversely affected. HB 256 will be heard again on Friday. HB 256 repeals provisions relating to the power and duties of the Department of Education and Early Development to intervene in a school district to improve instructional practices.
Health and Social Services
Last week we heard two bills, HB 288 and SCR 1. HB 288 addresses the problem that when an individual is incarcerated in a state correctional facility the State cannot use Medicaid for health needs. Changing the law would apply a new strategy to bill the Medicaid system. SCR-1 would designate May of each year as Lupus Awareness Month. Both these bills passed out of Committee. On Thursday morning we had a joint session with the Senate HSS committee to hear testimony from Key Campaign members. The Key Campaign advocates for developmentally disabled individuals.
This week we will hear HB 310 and HB 218. HB 310 temporarily reinstates the child and adult immunization program in the Department of Health & Social Services. HB 218 would prohibit an insurer from using a drug formulary system of specialty tiers under certain circumstances. Specialty tier drugs are new innovative drugs that are sometimes very expensive. At Thursday’s meeting we will hear from The Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association.
Last week the committee passed HJR 33, urging the United States Congress and the President of the United States to work to amend the Constitution of the United States to prohibit corporations, unions, and other organizations from making unlimited independent expenditures supporting or opposing candidates for public office. “Individuals” was removed from the list, leaving corporations, unions, and other organizations - so the bill addresses the Citizens United case. The bill next moves to the House Judiciary Committee. The committee also passed three other items: HB 254, establishing the Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council and relating to the preservation, restoration, and revitalization of Alaska Native languages; HB 304, relating to the membership of the Alaska Fire Standards Council; and HJR 34, urging the United States Congress to fund all the facilities and vessels necessary for the United States Coast Guard to fulfill its Arctic missions. This included icebreakers and an Arctic Coast Guard base. HR 10, supporting the Electoral College and opposing the Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote interstate compact, was heard and the committee will continue discussion. This resolution is unique in my history because it addresses a bill in the Senate supporting The National Popular Vote. Considering a resolution opposing the subject of a bill we have not yet considered makes it difficult to reasonably consider the subject.
This week the committee will hear HB 316, an Act relating to military facility zones in the state; relating to the development of housing in military facility zones; and relating to the financing of projects in military facility zones. The Committee will also hear HB 2, an Act relating to certain investments of the Alaska permanent fund, the state’s retirement systems, the State of Alaska Supplemental Annuity Plan, and the deferred compensation program for state employees in certain companies that do business in Iran, and restricting those investments; and providing for an effective date. On Thursday the committee has confirmation hearings for the State Commission for Human Rights, Board of Parole, Personnel Board, and Alaska Police Standards Council.
Last week we heard and passed HCR 23, requesting that the legislature create an Alaska Arctic Policy Commission. The duty of the Commission would be to craft a comprehensive arctic policy for Alaska that will address the impacts of climate change, arctic development, increasing militarization of the arctic, arctic shipping and other issues. We heard and held HB 263 which requires oil and companies that receive the benefit of state participation in their projects in the form of production tax credits and/or exploration incentive credits, to provide the state with the description, purpose, and general location of oil and gas capital expenditures. HB 289 creating a tax credit for natural gas storage tanks was heard, along with HB 9, dealing with an in-state gas pipeline and the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation. The committee also held confirmation hearings on Board of Game, Big Game Commercial Services Board, and Fisherman’s Fund Advisory and Appeals council members. We will hear the appointees again on Friday of next week, so if constituents wish to review the qualifications of the appointments and submit comments to my office, they should do so.
This week we will hear HB 9 and HB 289 again on Monday. HB 328, my legislation to require separate accounting of oil company corporate income tax will be heard on Wednesday, along with HJR 32 requesting the federal government to remove the Wood Bison from the Endangered Species List. On Friday we will resume confirmation hearings, and hear HB 340 removing land from the Petersville Recreational Mining Area
Legislators continue to work on the FY13 Operating and Capital Budgets. Proposals submitted through the Capital Project Submission & Information System (CAPSIS) continue to be reviewed and our office appreciates the time and effort put in to the quality submissions received this year. Seventy eight projects were submitted to District 35 alone, totaling $300,300,397 of requests! Though the deadline has passed for submitting capital requests, letters of support for projects are still accepted.
Louie Flora, Resources, HB 58, HB 59, HB 71, HB 85, HB 89, HB 104, HB 123, HB 298, HB 328 907- 465-2689 Louie_Flora@legis.state.ak.us
Heather Beggs Budget, State Affairs, HB 60, HB 302 907- 465-2028 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Jane Shows Education, Health & Social Services, Scheduling, Newsletter Contact, Constituent Relations, HB 57, HB 224 907- 465-2689 Mary_Jane_Shows@legis.state.ak.us