The 27th Alaska Legislative Session has ended. It was a particularly busy session this year (however, I think we say that every year). Every year, no matter what else gets done with regards to our priorities, I realize that one of AML's strongest functions is to help municipalities maintain local control. There are a few Legislators who feel they can make our decisions better than we can. Oh, contraire!
We were able to maintain the $60 million Revenue Sharing fund and were then able to get an additional $25 million added to it for this year, bringing the total to $85 million. This will give each municipality an approximate 41% increase over last years' check. If you haven't yet seen the AML spreadsheet on YOUR approximate Revenue Sharing amount, email the office or call, and we will get you those numbers.
Here is a list of the bills that DID pass and that were worked on by AML on behalf of municipalities. There are also many that did NOT pass that we felt were a bit destructive and would have negative impacts to municipalities. Keeping bad bills from passing is oftentimes just as important as helping good bills pass.
HB 125 - TITLE: "An Act moving the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development and relating to duties of that department; relating to the exercise of peace officer powers granted by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board; and providing for an effective date."
HB 131 - TITLE: "An Act establishing the Alaska Community and Public Transportation Advisory Board and relating to a long-range community and public transportation plan; and providing for an effective date." One seat will be for a member who "represents municipalities that operate modes of public transportation."
HB 196 - TITLE: "An Act relating to the power project fund and to the bulk fuel revolving loan fund; establishing a bulk fuel loan account and making the bulk fuel loan account and the bulk fuel bridge loan account separate accounts in the bulk fuel revolving loan fund; providing for technical assistance to rural borrowers under the bulk fuel bridge loan program; relating to the administration and investment of the bulk fuel revolving loan fund by the division in the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development responsible for community and regional affairs; and providing for an effective date." This bill simply moved the Bulk Fuel Revolving Loan Fund from the Alaska Energy Authority to the Division of Community & Regional Affairs, which will then have both the Revolving Loan Fund and the Bulk Fuel Bridge Loan Program housed in the same division. This will result in a streamlined process for obtaining Bulk Fuel Loans.
HB 250 - TITLE: "An Act relating to the renewable energy grant fund and recommendation program; and providing for an effective date." The Renewable Energy Grant Fund was set to expire in 2013. This bill pushed that date up to 2023. The amount available remains $50 m.
HB 284 - TITLE: "An Act making appropriations for the operating and loan program expenses of state government and for certain programs, capitalizing funds, amending appropriations, and making reappropriations; and providing for an effective date." Alaska Land Mobile Radio was funded to the tune of $2,650,000. It also requires a cost-share plan be developed and implemented prior to the FY2014 budget request. It also appropriates $60 million dollars from the General Fund to the Community Revenue Sharing Fund.
HB 366 - TITLE: "An Act establishing an Alaska intrastate mutual aid system and relating to the duties of the Alaska division of homeland security and emergency management and the duties of the Alaska State Emergency Response Commission." This bill allows the adoption of NEMA/FEMA framework for mutual assistance among participating political subdivisions for prevention, emergency response and recovery from local disaster emergencies.
HCR 23 - TITLE: Establishing and relating to the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission. This commission has a seat available from "one member from a local government or an association of a local government."
HJR 34 - TITLE: Urging the United States Congress to fund all the facilities and vessels necessary for the United States Coast Guard to fulfill its Arctic missions, including icebreakers and an Arctic Coast Guard base. This legislation formalizes two of the Alaska Northern Waters Task Force's recommendations: 1) Forward base the US Coast Guard in the Arctic; and 2) Fund icebreakers and other ice capable vessels.
SB 160 - TITLE: "An Act making and amending appropriations, including capital appropriations, supplemental appropriations, and other appropriations; making appropriations to capitalize funds; and providing for an effective date." This bill provided another $3,500,000 for the Alaska Land Mobile Radio system for emergency response security upgrades to the software. It also provided $6,060,000 for Community Block Grants. The Dept. of Corrections received $470,000 for ALMR; the Dept. of Health and Social Services received $297,500 for ALMR; the Dept. of Natural Resources received $2,960,000 for ALMR; the Dept. of Public Safety received $1,470,000 for ALMR. Also included is the sum of $25 million appropriated from the general fund for Community Revenue Sharing payments to be distributed according to AS 29.60.855 and 29.60.860 (current Revenue Sharing distribution formula). This bill also provides $25 million to be distributed as state aid to school districts according to the average daily membership for each district. Also of interest, the sum of $25,000 is provided to the Governor for the purpose of "providing information that may influence the outcome of an election on initiatives that will appear on a statewide election ballot in 2012.................."
SB 182 - TITLE: "An Act amending the amount of state funding provided to school districts for pupil transportation; relating to the local contribution for public education; relating to the vocational and technical instruction funding factor for public school funding; establishing in the Department of Education and Early Development a voluntary parent and early childhood education program for pre-elementary aged children; and providing for an effective date." Since 2001, the required local requirement for city and borough districts has been calculated by applying the four mills to a reduced assessed value, thereby creating a lower "effective mill rate." Under current law, the local effort is determined by including only 50% of the increase in assessed value at 1999 + full and true assessed value increases after 1999 @ 50% times 4 mills. Each year, the reduction in local effort due to only including 50% of increased assessed value is paid for with state general funds. As assessed value continues to grow, the discount gets larger and the state pays more of the required local effort.
Because the growth of assessed value since 1999 has been different for each city and borough school district, the effective mill or Education mill rate paid for each city and borough school district is different.
Currently, based on Full and True Value, the lowest mill rate is 2.65 mills.
This legislation sets all city and borough school districts to the same Full and True Value and removes the provision for the 50% deduction of assessed value after 1999.
All-in-all, we feel that it was a fairly productive year for Alaska's municipalities. We must all work on these issues together, however. So, please; stay involved!