Stopping the shipping of prisoners out of state:
Governor Dunleavy is trying to circumvent legislative budget language blocking shipment of prisoners out of state. I think it's time for a clear statutory (and not just appropriations) prohibition on shipping prisoners outside, given the record of Outside for-profit prisons being "crime universities" which have infected Alaska with dangerous gangs. I'm introducing a bill to prohibit shipment of prisoners out of state, and appreciate all the cosponsors of this bill.
: Wellpath and the Dunleavy administration continue to operate API far below capacity, burdening local hospitals with dangerous individuals who have to be guarded one-on-one (while driving up health care premiums for all of us with private health insurance). I'm introducing a bill to require API to have 55 bed capacity, the bare minimum required to allow our hospital ERs to function as they should, for Alaskans with medical emergencies. I will also keep advocating to pass HB 86, my bill to prohibit for-profit privatization of API, which has been heard in HSS but has not passed yet.
Early Childhood Education
: I'm working with a bipartisan group of legislators on a suite of bills to improve early childhood care and education, reduce the incidence of Adverse Childhood Experiences, and address college affordability. Alaska should be the best place in America to raise a family, and I'm happy that many legislators share that goal. I'll have more details on this initiative in subsequent newsletters.
Transportation issues around our neighborhood
: I worked with a group of legislators, in support of our Community Councils and Anchorage Assembly members, to persuade DOTPF to underground the Seward Highway as part of the ambitious "Midtown Congestion Relief" project. Earlier design options considered an elevated freeway, which would have been disastrous for public safety and land values in Midtown and Fairview. We also worked with Fairview Community Council to expedite a Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study for Gambell and Ingra. We need to resolve the future of those roads in order to attract investment to Fairview. Finally, I'm meeting with local and state staff regarding upcoming transportation projects with the goal of enhancing pedestrian and bike safety, and our business environment, downtown. That includes enhanced pedestrian and bike connections to new development in Ship Creek, including the Downtown Edge condos and the Boardroom/49th State development which is bringing much-needed economic vibrancy near the mouth of Ship Creek.
: As you know, the Dunleavy Administration catastrophic rate hikes have taken effect, but they can be reversed if the Senate passes HB 96, my bill which has already passed the House. Thanks to Senator Begich and many other Senators who have been advocating for Pioneer Home residents and this essential Alaska institution.