Senator Berta Gardner

May 18, 2015

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Serving Midtown, Spenard, and UMed

State Capitol Bldg. Rm 9
Juneau, AK 99801
Phone: 907-465-4930
Call Me: 1-800-331-4930

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Governor Bill Walker
Anchorage Office
550 W. 7th Ave, Ste 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 269-7450

Lt. Governor Byron Mallott
Anchorage Office
550 W. 7th Ave, Ste 1700
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 269-7460

The Public Has Spoken:
Expand Medicaid Now!

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Representative Tuck and Senator Gardner listening to Alaskans on Thursday night.
Representative Tuck and Senator Gardner listening to Alaskans on Thursday night.

As you may know, the legislature was granted a 12 day recess with the stated goal of coming back to our home districts and listening to our constituents.  Despite having ample opportunity to do, the controlling Majority caucus failed to schedule a single hearing allowing public testimony in any legislative committee during that time.  This has been deeply troubling to me.

Why was there a denial of a public forum?  I am not sure.  I do know that hundreds, if not thousands, of Alaskans have contacted my office, with reasonable demands that we get back to work.  My Democratic colleagues in the Senate, as well as those in the House Independent Democratic Minority caucus, decided that we would hold our own hearing, in light of the inaction by the Majority.  So, that’s what we did!

Thank you to all who attended our listening session on Thursday night at our new LIO building.  It was meaningful to hear testimony from engaged Alaskans, the vast majority of whom support education funding and the Governor's efforts to expand our Medicaid program.  Although we were scheduled to end the listening session at 7:30, we went over by more than an hour, as it was of vital importance that we listen to every inpidual that wished to testify.

In fact, over 120 of you took time from your busy lives to appear before us and reiterate that it is far past time to address these issues and enact the will of the people.  One testifier said, “the Majority has been dragging their feet…defying the wishes of the great majority of Alaskans.”  5 people did testify against Medicaid expansion, and although I am not in agreement with them on that issue, I applaud them for sharing their thoughts with us.

A representative democracy functions best when legislators listen to their constituents and act accordingly.  The primary role of a legislator should be listening to constituents and acting on their behalf.   The system breaks down when the lines of communications are closed.    My hope is that cooler heads will prevail, and those courageous enough to make their voice heard will receive the attention of those legislators in the House and Senate Majority.  If not now, when?

I’m Berta and I’m still listening,

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office

signed: Berta

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