Senator Dennis Egan's Newsletter
Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau

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       Juneau, AK 99801-1182

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Volume 7: Issue 11 April 10th, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Weekly Highlights

SB 88 Retirement Choice- Third time’s a charm!  I’m happy to report my retirement bill had its first hearing earlier this week.  I’ve introduced a similar bill twice in the past, so keep your fingers crossed for this round.  SB 88 would give public employees a choice between earning a defined benefit pension or a defined contribution retirement saving plan – whichever works better for the life they have planned.  It will save the state money right away, and benefit Alaska’s economy in the long term.

Cruise Ship Funds- Five years ago, Alaska reduced its taxes on cruise ship passengers.  We reached a deal that lowered their fees, and shared $5 per passenger with the first seven cities they visited.  The version of the operating budget that passed the Senate took away that money for the ports-of-call to sit in an account until who knows when.  Coastal cities use that money to serve the ships and their passengers – especially in ways that reduce impacts on Alaska residents.  I’m working hard with my colleagues to put back the appropriation so the money goes where we all agreed it does the most good.

Selena is an exchange student from Germany spending the semester in Juneau. Senate page Jacob Pennell hails from Wasilla.
Selena is an exchange student from Germany spending the semester in Juneau.  Senate page Jacob Pennell hails from Wasilla.  The Capitol really can bring people together!

Daylight Saving Time Bill Goes Dormant-Good news!  The House State Affairs Committee sent SB 6 to a subcommittee with members from Wasilla, Anchorage, and Sitka. I think they’ll take the Interim to look at the bill.  I’m glad a Southeast Alaskan is on there to look out for our economy: tourism, broadcasting, the investment managers at Department of Revenue and the Permanent Fund...

We’ll need to stay vigilant, but I’m glad to see the tide turn on this.  It would really be bad to divide Alaskans – from each other and from the rest of the United States.  Thanks to each of you who have testified and written about this one.

State Employee Contracts and Wages-I’m really ticked about this.  The Senate Finance Committee took public testimony, and then after it was closed voted to break the State of Alaska’s word to our public employees by de-funding their contracts for next year.  That’s not a fair way to do business.  They voted down my amendment on the Senate floor to put the money back.  We’re cutting our budget, but there’s a right way to do it.  This is one of my highest priorities for the conference committee that works out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget.

A couple of hundred folks turned out in spitting April rain to rally for public school funding.
A couple of hundred folks turned out in spitting April rain to rally for public school funding.

Education Funding- There was a big rally today (April 11) to support education funding.  My inbox is absolutely full with messages from Alaskans who get it: we can’t cut kids and have kindergarten classes with more than 30 children if we want a bright future for Alaska.  This is another one the Senate Finance Committee cut deeply after public testimony was closed.  And pretty much every Alaskan who testified said we should increase education funding!  This one will go to the very end, and I’ll work on it if it takes a special session or divine intervention or anything else.

Juneau’s own Ella Goldstein was a great guest page one day this week.
Juneau’s own Ella Goldstein was a great guest page one day this week.

Kudos from Juneau

Thanks to these community members for
helping make Southeast
a great place to live!

I appreciate the work by a group of Alaska Native Tribal members and University of Alaska Southeast professor Lance Twitchell to have a point on Heintzleman Ridge in Juneau called by its Tlingit name Tlaxsatanjín (Idle Hands, or Hands at Rest). The name will be officially put on federal maps. This marks the first time a Tlingit name has an official listing in the federal Geographic Name Information System.

Kudos to Haines fishermen Blake Ward, Chris Olsen, and Brad Badger, who will be honored by the Red Cross later this month in Anchorage.  With winds of 70+ knots ripping through Lynn Canal last September, fishing boats were rushing to shelter when the F/V Kyra Dawn nearly took the life of her captain.  Had it not been for the three men’s bravery saving skipper Woody Pahl, there would have been a tragedy at sea that day. 

Kudos to Harborview Elementary School teacher Tom McKenna for being named Principal! Tom has been teaching at Harborview for the past 10 years and won numerous awards, including the BP Teacher of Excellence Award.  A big Kudos to Tom and good luck!

Thanks for reading Legislative Corner.  I hope you'll always feel welcome to contact my office, just call, write, or use one of the links in this newsletter.

[signed] Dennis Egan

Dennis Egan
Alaska State Senator
District Q

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