by Rep. Zach Fansler
While basketball March Madness goes on around the state (and Nation!) the legislature is also in the midst of our own “march madness” working on the budget, advancing legislation, and holding mid-session constituent meetings.
Last week the State House considered amendments on the House floor five days in a row with over 32 hours of floor debate. On Monday we had the 3rd reading of the operating budget bills (HB 57 & HB 59). Now that the operating budget passed the House floor it will head over to the State Senate for consideration.
I have introduced a number of pieces of legislation being considered in committees – check out the Selected Bill Highlights below to read more about them. At the end of this month I will be back in Bethel for Cama-i and to meet with constituents, stay tuned for more details.
Cama-i Dance Festival
Cama-i is March 31st to April 2nd. I will be travelling back to Bethel to attend the festival and to meet with constituents along with my staffer Michelle Sparck. I recently sponsored an Honorarium Citation for Cama-i and will be presenting it this year at the festival in Bethel. Stay tuned for more information about Meet & Greet opportunities while Michelle and I are in town for Cama-i.
Did You Know? – Former Amchitka Workers
In 1993, Congress had included a directive in a defense bill to look into the workers’ health problems and a UA study showed that Amchitka workers’ radiation-related cancers were much more common than in the general population (leukemia rates were 10 to 18 times higher.)
If they died, the money could go to their widows, children or grandchildren. Compensation comes in a $150,000 lump-sum payment and, in some cases, smaller annual payments for lost wages.
If you or a relative worked in Amchitka at any time you may be eligible for compensation for working under hazardous conditions with dangerous radiation levels due to nuclear testing. Amchitka workers are eligible for regular medical checkups and compensation if they contracted radiation-related cancers. If they have already passed away, their widows or other survivors may retain benefits from the Department of Defense. If you have any questions about this, you may reach out to my office or Robert Doehl of the State Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs.
ROBERT A. K. DOEHL, Deputy Commissioner
State of Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
In the News
Bethel Search & Rescue – Our dedicated Bethel Search & Rescue volunteers were recently featured in an Alaska Daily News article. I recently sponsored an Honorarium Citation for the Bethel Search & Rescue and am looking forward to delivering it in person while I am back in Bethel for Cama-i later this month. Many thanks to the amazing volunteers with Bethel Search & Rescue for all of your hard work keeping our residents safe when they get caught out in the elements.
VPSO, PCE, Public Broadcasting Support – KYUK featured a story this week on amendments seeking to cut funding from the VPSO, PCE, and Public Broadcasting programs. Rural communities understand how important these programs are to us off the road system and I was proud to defend the VPSO program this week when we considered the state operating budget on the House Floor.
Selected Bill Highlights
HB 57 – Operating Budget/Loans/Funds: This appropriations bill encompasses the operating budget for the State of Alaska. This bill will head to the Senate for consideration next.
HB 59 – Mental Health Budget: This appropriations bill is the budget for the Alaska Mental Health Trust. It just passed the house floor and will head over to the Senate for consideration next.
HB 106 – Civil legal services fund: This bill would establish an additional funding mechanism for Alaska Legal Services. This would give the legislature the option of levying up to 25% of court fees for Alaska Legal Services in times of a fiscal certainty. This bill has been passed out of the House Finance committee and will head to the House Floor once approved by the Rules committee.
HB 111 – Oil and Gas Production Tax, Payments, Credits: This bill would restructure the oil and gas tax credits in a way that helps ensure oil companies contribute their fair share for developing our resources. This bill has been passed out of the House Resources committee and is being heard in the House Finance committee. If you are interested in providing comments on this bill you can email the committee.
HB 115 – State Revenue Restructuring: This bill proposes a restructuring of Alaska’s revenue by implementing a state income tax, a capital gains tax, and restructuring Permanent Fund draws. It is being heard in the House Finance Committee. If you are interested in providing comments on this bill you can email the committee.
HB 141 – AK Workforce Investment Board Funds: This bill provides continued funding for Alaska’s Technical Vocational Education Program which includes funding for Yuut Elitnaurviat and University of Alaska programs in our region. This bill was passed out of the House Labor & Commerce committee and is waiting for a hearing in the House Finance committee.
HB 175 – National Popular Vote: This bill would ratify a compact for the state of Alaska to allocate our electoral votes in presidential elections to the candidate who wins the popular vote nation-wide. This compact would only take effect if enough states ratify the compact to represent a majority of the electoral votes (270). The goal of this compact is to ensure each vote is equal and that votes in “swing states” aren’t more valuable. I am the primary sponsor on this bill.
HB 176 – Ground Emergency Medical Transport: This bill would allow emergency medical transport service providers to be reimbursed up to the full amount allowed by the federal government. Currently emergency medical transport service providers are typically reimbursed for less than their actual costs which puts a strain on these services. I am the primary sponsor on this bill.
PFD. It’s that time of year again and the PFD application deadline is quickly approaching. If you haven’t applied yet be sure to visit the Permanent Fund Dividend Division and fill out your application now!
Federal Taxes. Don’t forget to file your federal taxes, or request an extension, by the April 18, 2017 deadline!
I’m here for you, so please keep in touch on matters important to you and your family! Have a good one.
Rep. Zach Fansler, Alaska State Representative; District 38 – Akiachak, Akiak, Aniak, Atmautluak, Bethel, Chefornak, Chuathbaluk, Crooked Creek, Eek, Platinum, Goodnews Bay, Kasigluk, Kipnuk, Kongiganak, Kwigillingok, Kwethluk, Marshall, Mekoryuk, Napakiak, Napaskiak, Newtok, Nunapitchak, Oscarville, Quinhagak, Russian Mission, Tuluksak, Tuntutuliak, Nightmute, Toksook Bay, Tununak, Lower Kalskag, Upper Kalskag.