Governor’s budget needs to be revamped

Dear Governor Mike Dunleavey,

The Unit 4 villages, Akiak, Akiachak, Kwethluk, and Tuluksak are letting you know that we are totally opposed to your budget proposal that cuts deep into essential services without considering raising revenue to continue the needed services to survive in our poverty stricken villages in Western Alaska. You could do better in saving our communities throughout Alaska.

We have reviewed your budget and it needs to be revamped to make it work for the best interest of the Peoples of Alaska.

Thank you so much for your time.

Mike Williams Spokesman for Unit 4 Villages

Black Hills Hairy Man update

This is Kenneth Hargens from down here in the Black Hills of western South Dakota. (Formerly of Alaska Interior, Formerly of Oregon, formerly of wherever the Army sent me!) Some Hairy Man news from down here in the Lower 48. A couple weeks ago there was a ‘Bigfoot’ Conference held in Hasting, Nebraska. It was very well-attended with over 700 folks coming to the town. This was a capacity crowd for the meeting areas which featured several knowledgeable speakers with a wealth of experiences and science backgrounds. I am going forth with my own small seminar in the coming spring. It has been very cold here in the Black Hills and Big Horns. Colder even then Dawson City, Yukon. I have not checked the temps in your area for a while. But, stay warm up there and enjoy the longer days. I always enjoy the Delta Discovery news. I hope to visit my old ‘haunts’ on the Gerstle and Tanana Rivers some day.

Kenneth Hargens Rapid City, SD

Murkowski comments on Draft EIS for Pebble Mine

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today (Feb. 22nd, 2019) issued the following statement after the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) released the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the Pebble mine project in southwest Alaska.

The Army Corps has now released a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Pebble mine. While it will take time to review this 1,400-page document and its supporting materials, I have begun to do so and encourage all Alaskans to do the same, because it is critical for us to understand the potential impacts of this project. Those who are interested will have an opportunity to submit written comments and participate in public meetings around the state in March and April. As I have said before, we must have confidence that Bristol Bay’s world-class fisheries are fully protected, and I expect the Army Corps process to remain fair, rigorous, and transparent as Alaskans provide their views.

The DEIS is expected to be published in the Federal Register on March 1, 2019, opening a public comment period to ensure that all Alaskans have an opportunity to weigh in. The Army Corps will also conduct public meetings across the state in March and April.

Senator Lisa Murkowksi Washington, D.C.

Supporting the Families of Our Military: Military Spouses Have Much to Offer Fairbanks Economy

Our active duty military service members serve and defend the nation and we honor them for their sacrifice. But spouses of our service members also play a huge role in the mission. They must be resilient, adaptable to change, patient, and gracious as they serve alongside their partner in the often-unpredictable lifestyle demanded of those who serve our nation. They support their partners, raise families in an ever-changing environment, and are asked to transfer their profession across state lines. My gratitude to those who serve and protect our nation is limitless—and this gratitude extends to their families and partners.

It is also important to me to ensure the transitional lifestyle of thousands of service members and their families is as seamless and welcoming as possible here in Alaska. Military spouses bring valuable skills, education, and experience to the community in a variety of professions. Each state government has different rules and standards for occupational licensing, and Alaska strives to make it easier for the spouses of active duty service members as well as those retiring out of service.

But in the fall of 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Fairbanks business leaders contacted my office about the difficulties military spouses were facing in obtaining occupational licenses. Since 2011, Alaska allows military spouses to receive courtesy expedited occupational licenses while they fulfill Alaska state requirements. It was troubling to me that we had only learned seven years later that more clarity is needed on how military spouses could get their Alaska occupational licenses in a timely manner.

Last year, I introduced House Bill 262, which would help the Legislature and the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development identify how the state can help improve the current process. My bill passed the House floor unanimously on April 13 and stalled in the Senate. Now, as State Senator, I reintroduced this bill as Senate Bill 11. This bill will improve oversight of the current occupational licensing system by requiring the department to submit an annual report to ensure military spouses have the ability to put their skills and experience to work in Alaska.

In fact, introducing the bill in the first place improved communication between the department, occupational boards, the Legislature, U.S. Department of Defense, local governments, and military families. Passing this bill now will ensure that communication and accountability continue for future generations. On Thursday, March 7, the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee will hear an overview of occupational licensing procedures before giving SB 11 its first hearing this year. I am grateful to Chair Reinbold for this opportunity.

I understand moving to a new state and obtaining a new occupational license can be a daunting and stressful process for military spouses and their families. A simple reporting mechanism helps the Legislature identify where these challenges may lie and how we can best correct them. State officials have a duty to help ease the transition for those families coming to Alaska who serve our nation, and this is one way we can do that.

It is my hope that by facilitating communication between occupational boards, the state government, and the greater military community, Senate Bill 11 will help military spouses put their skills to work in Alaska. However, there is still much work to be done. As the Senator for the City of Fairbanks, Fort Wainwright, and Badger Road, I will closely watch other ways in which we can help our service members and their families feel welcome with these commonsense pro-military and pro-economy measures.

If you, your spouse, family member or friend experienced any difficulty receiving an occupational license in Alaska, please feel free to call my office at (907) 456-7423. I am honored to help serve those who serve our nation.

Senator Scott Kawasaki Juneau, AK

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