Senate Finance Committee bills

by Senator Lyman Hoffman

Hello –

It is day eighty-eight and sunny in Juneau! This week, the Senate Finance Committee worked on the following bills, SB 69: Assisted Living Homes/House Rules, HB 76: Extending COVID-19 Disaster Emergency, SB 55: Employer Contributions to Pers and SB 10: Free and Reduced Tuition for Essential Worker.

The Senate Community & Regional Affairs committee heard a lengthy presentation on Broadband and its’ issues related to expansion in Alaska.

This week, the Senate passed SB 65: Liability Consulting Health Care Provider. This bill will relieve the unpaid consultants from medical malpractice liability. Many Alaska communities do not have specialist medical professionals. Doctors in rural communities rely on the ability to call specialists in urban hubs to seek expertise. SB 65 also ensures the primary doctor cannot use the consultant to decrease their own liability. SB 65 moved to the House and has been referred to the House Health & Social Services Committee.

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds for Libraries

The ARPA includes billions of dollars in library-eligible funds from several programs. The plan allocates $200 million for libraries through the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Money will be sent to state library administrative agencies, who will allocate to local libraries. 

In addition, libraries can apply to the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund to receive 100 percent reimbursement for purchases of equipment to provide Internet connectivity and devices to the public.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities will each receive $135 million, and 60 percent is to be used for direct grants for which libraries are eligible. Plus, more than $170 billion is appropriated for K-12 schools and $40 billion to higher education. Library services should receive funds from this source as well.

Alaska Community Forest Council offering Arbor Day Grants

May 17th, Arbor Day, is America’s national tree planting holiday. Arbor day is celebrated on the third Monday in May. It is a day set aside to educate children about the significance of trees and honor the crucial role that trees play in our communities and lives.  

The Alaska Community Forest Council is offering grants ranging from $200-$500 to support activities that promote Arbor Day in Alaska. The Council meets quarterly to review applications and announce grant awards. Grant applications are accepted year-round. The grants are aimed at local governments, schools, and nonprofit organizations. Contact: Gino Graziano, council member, 907-786-6315, [email protected] For a grant application, go to http://forestry.alaska.gov/community/council.