by Senator Lyman Hoffman
It is day 53, this week the Senate Finance Committee moved SB 22: Intensive Management Surcharge/Repeal Termination date, see more information on the bill below. The committee heard and held SB 55: Employer Contribution to PERS. In addition, the committee received an overview from the Alaska Energy Agency, and a slight overview of the Governor’s Executive Order 119. E.O. 119 splits the Department of Health & Social Services into two departments. About an hour before the committee started their hearing, the Governor withdrew E.O. 119. I understand the Governor plans on continuing to work on this, but will do it properly, through legislation. And finally, the committee reviewed the Centralized Services Initiative for the departments of Administration and Transportation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The Senate Community & Regional Affairs Committee moved SB 15: Open Meetings Act/Penalty. See information on this bill below.
Sending my deepest sympathy to the family, friends, and communities on the passing of Senator John Sackett. May the love, prayers, and support from all Alaskans, bring comfort during this most difficult time.
Up to $6 Million in Annual Environmental Justice Grants
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the availability of up to $6 million in grant funding under the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Cooperative Agreement Program and the Environmental Justice Small Grants (EJSG) Program.
To learn more about pre-application assistance calls and how to apply for funding, visit: https://www.epa.gov/environmental-justice/environmental-justice-collaborative-problem-solving-cooperative-agreement-0. Interested applicants are encouraged to participate in a pre-application assistance call or webinar on March 5, March 10, March 23, or April 7. More information is available at: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/environmental-justice-small-grants-program#Assistance
Applicants interested in either funding opportunity must submit grant proposal packages by May 7, 2021 to be considered for the available funding. For more information on EPA’s environmental justice grants, funding, and technical assistance programs, visit: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice.
SB 15 Open Meeting Act; Penalty
The Senate Community and Regional Affairs met and moved CSSB 15(CRA). This bill supplements existing law HB 170, which passed in 1965 by then Representative Ted Stevens. HB 170 established the Open Meetings Act, requiring meetings of agencies of the state and its subdivisions to be open to the public with certain exemptions. SB 15 adds a $1,000 civil penalty for elected or appointed members of governmental bodies who knowingly violate the Open Meetings Act. Alaska Public Office Commission is tasked with investigating and administering fines. SB 15 moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 22 – Intensive Management Surcharge/Repeal Term Date
In 1994, the legislature initiated an “Intensive Management Program” overseen by the Board of Game, which relied on observation and scientific analysis to manage Alaska’s game populations. If a population drops below what is required to meet the needs of Alaskans and remain healthy; Intensive Management will investigate into the causes of the low population numbers.
In 2016, hunters supported a surcharge ($10 for residents and $30 for nonresidents) on hunting licenses to support the program. Since passage of the surcharge, an average of $4 million per year is raised. SB 22 repeals the sunset date and allows the program to continue as it has since 2016. SB 22 passed on the Senate Floor and will be transmitted to the House of Representatives for deliberation.
PFD Application due March 31st. Apply at mypfd.alaska.gov.