In this issue:
  • Online with Ivy
  • Operating Budget - Public Testimony on Thursday
  • Bill Update: HB111 and HB151
  • Ways and Means Committee
  • Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • American Rescue Plan Act
  • Events and Reminders
Online with Ivy
Join me this week on Saturday, April 10th at 10:00am on my official legislative Facebook page for a live update. This month I'll be covering the latest from the House Ways and Means Committee, the status of the budget, the American Rescue Plan and more. I will be available to answer any questions or comments you may have. I hope to see you there!

You can RSVP to the event here and share it on Facebook.

If you haven't already, please visit the new House Coalition website at for the latest updates from our caucus.
Operating Budget - Public Testimony starting on Thursday
Last week, the Finance Subcommittees in the House closed out on their budget process. Now, the House Finance Committee will review the subcommittee recommendations to the Governor's Amended Budget Allocation for FY22. You can view the House Finance Subcommittee Closeout Reports on the Legislative Finance Division Website.

This week, Alaskans will have a chance to voice their opinions on the operating budget, HB69, and the Mental Health budget, HB71. The House Finance Committee will be taking public testimony on the operating budget on the following dates from the following communities:

Public testimony will have a 2 minute time limit. Please call 30 minutes prior to the end of allotted time or testimony will close early. For more information on testifying telephonically, click here. You can also submit written testimony to [email protected]. After public testimony, House Finance will make amendments to the budget before heading to the House Floor for a floor vote in mid-April.
Rep. Spohnholz Bill Update: HB111 and HB151
From left to right: Pakak Sophie Boerner, First Alaskans Institute fellow, and Rep. Ivy Spohnholz presenting HB111 to the House Labor and Committee on March 31, 2021.
Last week, I had two bills heard and moved from the House Labor and Commerce Committee: HB111 and HB151.

Oral health is just as important as the rest of our health, but many Alaskans face barriers to dental care. For many populations, traditional dental care may not be available due to a variety of factors: socioeconomic barriers, lack of licensed dentists in rural Alaska, and challenges with mobility due to illness or disability. Dental hygienists provide critical preventative dental care. This bill addressed these barriers by allowing experienced Alaska-licensed dental hygienists to practice independently with an Advanced Practice Permit. HB 111 will allow them to provide screenings and cleanings in community based settings, in rural Alaska and for low income populations independently, similar to the way that nurse practitioners have for many years.

Last year, HB308 enacted temporary changes to Alaska's unemployment insurance (UI) program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This act sunset on April 1 of this year. HB151 retroactively reinstates those provisions previously passed in order continue assistance to Alaska families. Here are the three temporary provisions HB151 reinstates:
  1. Waives the standard one week waiting requirement to begin receiving benefits.
  2. Increases the weekly per-dependent benefit from $24 to $75 and removes the cap of three dependents for which applicants can receive a supplemental benefit.
  3. Ensures that eligible Alaskans will receive UI benefits regardless of whether they are furloughed, laid off, lose work hours, or are forced to stay home to care for family members as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

As co-chair of the House Labor and Commerce Committee, I appreciate the deliberation of the committee members and my co-chair, Representative Zack Fields, on amendments to improve these two pieces of legislation. Both of these bills will be updated and heard next in the House Finance Committee.
Ways and Means Committee
The Ways and Means Committee started last week and I filmed a quick recap after our first meeting. Some key takeaways so far include:
  • Legislative Finance reported that the Unrestricted General Fund (UGF) revenue this year will be roughly equal to UGF revenue received in 1975 - before construction of the Alaska pipeline.
  • In OMB's 10 year plan, the Governor’s office has identified a fiscal gap starting in FY23 of nearly $800 million. This gap must be filled with new revenue or additional cuts.
  • The Governor's FY22 budget proposes overdrawing the Permanent Fund by $2 billion.
  • Department of Revenue's spring forecast projected that FY21 Permanent Fund earnings will provide 65% of our UGF while oil will provide about 25%.
  • The federal government provided 48% of the state’s revenue in FY20 and is projected to bring in over $5 billion in FY21.
  • Alaska's budget has been cut by over $3 billion since FY13 and positions have been cut in six of the last seven years.
  • The American Rescue Plan will bring in billions to the state over the next three fiscal years.

We also heard from Angela Rodell, CEO of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC), on ways we can continue to sustain the Permanent Fund for future Alaskans. The Permanent Fund is currently valued at about $74 billion. If we continue to take careful measures to limit our spending to the 5 Percent of Market Value (POMV), the fund should hit $90 - $100 billion in about 10 years. The Permanent Fund Corporation supports enshrining the POMV in the Alaska Constitution. This would provide necessary fiscal certainty as the APFC carries out its mission. The POMV produces the largest portion of our UGF revenue to pay for the PFDs and essential government services like teachers, troopers and transportation. If we don’t protect the Permanent Fund from being spent down like we have spent over $16 billion of Constitutional and Statutory Budget Reserves, we will reduce the amount of funds for PFDs and essential government services, and will have to raise more money from taxes to balance the budget. 

You can keep track of this committee and updates from my colleagues at the Alaska House Coalition page (

Upcoming Ways and Means Schedule
11:30AM Thursday, April 8: We will hear a presentation on Alaska's Economic & Labor Issues by Dan Robinson (Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development).
11:30AM Saturday, April 10: We will hear from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy on the impacts to Alaskans of various budget balancing measures.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
From left to right: Rep. Harriet Drummond, Rep. Andi Story, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, Rep. Sara Hannan, Rep. Chris Tuck, Rep. Calvin Schrage, Rep. Geran Tarr, and Rep. Cathy Tilton wearing blue for Go Blue Day as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and although this is the second year we could not rally in-person for the annual "Go Blue" Day, I am grateful we were able to still meet virtually. Sen. Micciche, Sen. Kiehl, Rep. Hopkins, and myself spoke on the need to prevent child abuse in our state. Thank you especially to Rep. Tarr who has continued to organize this event for years with Joy Lyon at the Southeast Alaska Association for the Education of Young Children (AEYC).

There is so much work our state and community members must do to decrease rates of child abuse and prevent it from occurring. The Strengthening Families approach is a research-informed strategy we can implement which focuses on five protective factors: strengthening parental resilience, building social connections, learning about parental and child development, identifying tangible resources to meet basic needs, and supporting social and emotional competence of children. You can learn more about these protective factors and other ways to make a difference in child's life through the Child Abuse Prevention Month resources from Alaska Children's Trust.
American Rescue Plan Act
I know there are many constituents who are following the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021. There is an opportunity for public comment to the Municipality of Anchorage for how the Anchorage Assembly should prioritize approximately $100 Million expected from ARP. Anchorage residents are encouraged to attend testify at upcoming meetings and contact Assembly members about how to best utilize this funding.

You can click here to submit feedback to the Municipality of Anchorage on COVID-19 funding. Additionally, you can find an overview of the various public meetings the Assembly will be hosting by clicking here. Here are a couple other resources you can read to better understand how these federal funds will impact Anchorage.

Events and Reminders
  • Friday, April 9, 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., In-Person Work session and Town Hall in the Assembly Chambers with meeting Live Streamed on YouTube and GCI Channel 9
  • 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Second meeting to discuss and finalize allocations.
  • 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.: Town Hall style discussion.
  • Tuesday, April 13, 5 p.m., Regular Assembly Meeting, In-Person, in the Assembly Chambers
  • Meeting to introduce the resolution or ordinance with final allocations.
  • Friday, April 23, 12noon to 1 p.m., In-Person Work session and Town Hall in the Assembly Chambers with meeting Live Streamed on YouTube and GCI Channel 9
  • Review of resolution or ordinance with final allocations.
  • Tuesday, April 27, 5 p.m., Regular Assembly Meeting, In-Person, in the Assembly Chambers
  • Public hearing and vote on resolution or ordinance with final allocations.

The next meeting is tonight. You can find the link to the meeting and details here.
Meets 7:00PM on the 1st Wednesday of each month. There are no scheduled meetings during the summer (June, July, and August).

The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30PM Wednesday, April 14 at the Zion Luther Church and Zoom.
Meets 6:30PM on the 2nd Wednesday of each month (except July and August) at Zion Lutheran Church, 2100 Boniface Pkwy (CLICK HERE for a link to a map) and Zoom (link posted the week of the meeting).

The next meeting is scheduled for 7:00PM Thursday, April 15 via Zoom.
Meets 7:00PM on the 3rd Thursday of each month via Zoom until further notice.

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