Volume 9: Issue 11                               April 29, 2017 

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We're doing a lot with smaller bills right now while negotiators jockey for position on the biggest pieces.  It feels like a giant rock rolling really slowly toward the finish line - everybody wants to push their stuff, nobody wants to get their toes crushed.

The Senate passed a couple of bills in the last two weeks to help protect seniors, one to declare Indigenous People's Day, and another to help the Arts Council do its work with less state money.  There were bills that helped keep job training going, keep phone services for the deaf & hard of hearing, and to keep health insurance for the widows and orphans of cops & firefighters killed in the line of duty.  Plus there were some I voted against, like ending most scholarships for UA students.

In the background, budget writers are negotiating and we're all trying to move one another one way or the other on the revenue pieces.  Things have gotten a little quieter - at least in public view - now that legislators have moved their cars back to their home districts and are getting ready for what looks like a long effort to move people off entrenched positions to a deal that can get enough votes to pass.

I'm on the conference committee on SB 26, the bill to set up rules for how Alaska uses Permanent Fund earnings to keep our state's economy stable.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Coming Back from Loss

The fire at Project Playground at Twin Lakes was awful.  My family loved that playground - my kids sold lemonade to contribute to it, and the grandbabies loved to play there!  You know we'll rebuild it.  You can contribute through the Juneau Community Foundation.  And you can come to the first big meeting about it on Tuesday, May 2 at 5 pm at Centennial Hall.
Thunder Mountain Students

Mara Sheakley-Early makes a point of bringing her government students to the Capitol to meet with their legislators.  Rep. Parish and I had a great time answering their questions and talking about Alaska's future with the young people who are Alaska's future.

Good Call

Governor Walker decided to cancel a study on privatizing all the design engineers at the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities.  That was the right move.  DOT has a pretty good mix of in-house and contract engineers right now.  They watch the dollars, and keep a lineup of projects on tap so our state has good infrastructure for the money.

Keeping a good crew on staff ensures we don't leave federal money on the table - in fact they usually get money at the end of the fiscal that other states couldn't use.  Using contractors gets the benefit of special expertise we don't need full-time and the flexibility to scale the workforce up and down with the work.  Nobody's showed me any cost savings yet from the idea of outsourcing everyone.  So instead of spending money to study it, Alaska will put that money into roads and bridges.  Good call, Governor.


Thanks to these community members for
helping make Southeast a great place to live!
  • Amazing Altruist -  June Degan won a First Lady's Volunteer Award, and boy did she deserve it.  June heads the all-volunteer board of directors for Haven House, a transitional home for women getting out of prison. She was one of the founders way back in 2007. Based on some proven ideas, Haven House's unique model works, and it can be duplicated in any community in Alaska.  Well-deserved, June!
  • Great Gardening - You know what's amazing?  People who make a living doing something, and still share their wisdom about it for free.  Ed Buyarski and David & Margaret Lendrum are all in the landscape and garden business.  Ed has done a weekly segment called Garden Talk on KTOO public radio for years. David & Margaret have hosted a weekly show from 8:30 - 9:00 every Saturday morning on KINY Radio for at least as many years called Conversations with Alaska Gardeners.  As the weather warms up and the plants start growing, they both deserve kudos for giving back to everybody in our region who likes to get their hands dirty.
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.

Dennis Egan
Alaska State Senator
District Q