March 31, 2015
733 W 4th Ave
Anchorage, AK 99501
State Capitol, Rm 419
Juneau, AK 99801
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Senator Dan Sullivan,
Sen. Dan Sullivan
Senator Lisa Murkowski,
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Congressman Don Young,
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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We’ve got less than 20 days left in Juneau and plenty to accomplish. Among my priorities for the end of session are Medicaid expansion, responsible budget reductions and public safety – all issues that you have told me are important to you!
I’d like to thank all who have visited me in Juneau, contacted me throughout the session or provided testimony on legislation or the budget. This lets me know your priorities and helps me better represent you.
Today constituent Xavier Mason visited me to discuss education issues
Anchorage Crime Hearing
At the request of Senators Ellis, Gardner and myself, the Judiciary committee held a hearing last week to examine the recent spate of crimes in Anchorage. We heard from Anchorage police, the Department of Public Safety and corrections officers and learned that all of the shootings this year are believed to be drug-related.
They explained that the increase in crime is largely due to reduced police staffing and the resulting decrease in officer-initiated activities. This means that the police have shifted from a proactive approach to stopping crimes to reacting when crimes occur. We also heard conflicting testimony from Mayor Sullivan, who said crime has not increased in Anchorage.
We will continue to ask questions and look for solutions to make our community safer. Even in a challenging budget year, public safety must be a top priority. I will look for ways to help support the special units that were once so effective at lessening and preventing crimes.
Senator Olson and I participated on a panel on the damaging health effects of flame retardants. I am introducing a bill to ban certain types this session
Emergency Fix to Oil Taxes
This morning, my colleague Rep. Les Gara and I introduced emergency legislation to fix a fundamental flaw in our current oil tax structure. As we grapple with a $3.5 billion dollar deficit and Alaskans face painful budget cuts, we are paying out more in oil tax credits than we are receiving in production taxes. If this continues, we will pay out $700 million in credits in the next fiscal year, while only receiving $300 million in production taxes. This net loss of $400 million is a burden that Alaskans cannot support.
Our bill is designed to ensure that for the next two years, three of the most profitable fields in Alaska pay a more competitive minimum tax and that credit payouts are reduced. This temporary solution will still protect our explorers and smaller producers, while providing approximately $1.4 billion in new revenue to Alaska over the next two years.
Senator Wielechowski and Representative Gara introduce an emergency fix to a major oil tax flaw – we cannot pay out more than we take in
Respecting your Vote on Marijuana
Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 30 by a vote of 17-3. This bill updates the state criminal code, however, it fails to remove marijuana as a controlled substance and creates felony offenses for simple possession. I know many of you have strong feelings on both sides of this issue, but I believe we must respect the vote of the people. For those reasons, I voted to uphold Alaskans’ vote by voting against SB 30.
Leaving marijuana as a controlled substance, with the likes of heroin and cocaine, goes against the intent of the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol. We can and must safely regulate marijuana without preserving the harsh penalties of keeping it a controlled substance. That is what the voters intended and what I tried to honor by offering an amendment to SB30, though it failed on the Senate floor.
A second major issue with the current version of SB 30 is the felonization of marijuana possession. At a time when incarceration costs the State over $50,000 per year and 64% of all inmates are non-violent offenders, adding potentially significant costs to the Department of Corrections is unnecessary and not financially responsible.
Senate Bill 30 will now be considered by members in the House. Additional changes will surely be made by committees and on the House floor. I encourage you to get in touch with your Representative and participate in the forthcoming opportunities for public testimony.
Student Art in the Capitol
Since 1988, the Art in the Capitol program has highlighted art created by Alaskan students of all ages. On every landing of the main stairwell, a rotating display of art created by children and teenagers is hung for all visitors to the Capitol to enjoy. Currently, there are some beautiful works from East High School on display. Congratulations to all these students for their hard work and creativity!
Some of the incredible art created by students at East High School
You are also always welcome to contact me directly. I am here to represent you!
Alaska State Senator
District H - Anchorage