In this issue:
  • Ways and Means Committee
  • HB141 (Rep. Spohnholz): Appropriation Limit
  • Public Process for New Anchorage COVID-19 Relief
  • Anchorage Elections Reminder
  • Virtual Meetings for Corporations 
  • Vaccine Information
  • Reminder - PFD Applications due March 31
Ways & Means Committee
As Chair of the House Special Committee on Ways and Means, I am excited to announce our first meetings on Tuesday, March 30th and Thursday, April 1st. Some have asked, "Why create a Ways and Means Committee now?"

Our state's oil production has fallen by 75% since its peak in the early 1980s. State oil revenue has dropped by almost $6 billion since peak revenue in FY13 when it was 95% of our unrestricted revenue. So while oil revenue made up 95% of our budget a decade ago, it’s currently less than 25% of our budget.

Now, the Permanent Fund makes up 65% of our unrestricted revenue. Alaska has transitioned from being an oil state to being an investment state.

Alaska's budget deficit is still about $2 billion with a flat budget and a statutory PFD. We have done the following:
1) Cut state spending by over $3 billion from its peak in FY13.
2) Restructured the Permanent Fund to use it to pay for government in addition to PFD's.
3) Spent about $16 billion from state savings accounts with less than $1 billion remaining.

Yet we still have a fiscal gap.

Our revenue still doesn't meet our spending needs even after years of budget cuts. Some have suggested we could spend more of the Permanent Fund to pay for large PFDs and the operating budget.

Overspending from the Permanent Fund in the short-term is like a farmer eating their "seed" corn. It works for today but it will cost us tomorrow with less earnings every year in the future to pay for PFDs and essential government services and higher taxes needed in the future.

The Ways and Means Committee will frame our work to address the growth of state government, explore new forms of revenue, and shine the spotlight on a real comprehensive solution for Alaska's fiscal crisis. Here is the schedule for next week:

  • 11:30AM Tuesday, March 30: Alexis Painter (Legislative Finance) will present on Alaska revenues and expenditures. Neil Steininger (OMB) will also present on Alaska's 10 year budget plan.
  • 11:30AM Thursday, April 1: We will hear a presentation from the Department of Revenue on revenue projections, as well as Angela Rodell (Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation) who will present an overview on the Permanent Fund.

As we focus on our work in Ways and Means, it is critical we involve Alaskans from all walks of life in the public process. I will keep you posted on key takeaways and opportunities to get involved as the committee begins our work.
HB141 (Rep. Spohnholz): Appropriation Limit
Alaska’s budget crisis can only be solved with a comprehensive fiscal plan. That includes the need for new revenue to meet Alaskans’ needs for essential government services like public education, public safety, courts, and road maintenance. However, keeping our spending under check is a major piece of the puzzle. 
In the past, when oil prices and revenue were high, we spent money without restraint, which made our current fiscal situation tougher than it needs to be. If we had invested more of those dollars we might not even have a fiscal gap today.
I have introduced HB141 to modernize Alaska’s spending cap that is part of a comprehensive, and sustainable fiscal plan.

What does HB141 do?
  • It limits state spending to the average of the past three years as adjusted for population and inflation.
  • It makes important exceptions for school bond debt reimbursement as well as federal appropriations.
An updated spending cap is one element of a comprehensive and sustainable fiscal plan that will maintain funding for Alaska’s essential government services while ensuring we manage spending growth in times of high oil prices. HB141 will be heard next in Ways and Means and then House Finance. You can read our full press release on HB141 here.
Public Process for New Anchorage COVID-19 Relief
Early in March, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 authorized $1.9 trillion in relief funds to help Americans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is huge for helping Alaska transition out of the pandemic. In the coming weeks, the Legislature will be looking at ways to best spend the flexible funds for state government to support those most impacted by COVID-19 and get our economy back on track.

While the Legislature awaits further guidance on the roll-out and implementation of ARP, Anchorage community members have the opportunity now to speak on the local government funds that will be allocated to the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA). Last year, the MOA received $156 million from the CARES Act, and our local leaders used those funds to support our health care workforce, fund rent and mortgage relief, secure housing for our most vulnerable populations, and much more. On Friday, March 19, the MOA began its public process to receive input on the next allotment of federal stimulus monies - currently an unknown amount.

The MOA will receive funding in two tranches: 50% of the dollars will be received within 60 days of the signing of ARP, and the other 50% will be received 12 months later. The following is the current public process schedule (the full press release and public comment schedule can be found here).

Phase 1: Assess, Review, Public Dialogue, and Initial Allocations
  • Thursday, March 25, 6 p.m., Special Assembly Meeting, In-Person, in the Assembly Chambers: public hearing and vote on resolution with initial allocation of 20 to 25% of the dollars to the MOA.

Phase 2: Plan, Public Dialogue, and Final Allocations
  • Friday, March 26, 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.: Work session to review federal guidance and begin discussion to determine allocations of remainder of funds.
  • 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.: Town Hall style discussion.
  • 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.
Anchorage Elections Reminder
Please make sure you vote in the upcoming Anchorage election. If you have not received a ballot, please call the Voter Hotline at (907) 243-VOTE (8683) to request a replacement ballot package. You may also visit an Anchorage Vote Center to vote.

Why is it important to vote in this upcoming local election?
  • May0r: This election determines the mayor who will lead Anchorage for the next three years. If no candidate reaches a 45% threshold for mayor in the general election, the election will go to a top-two runoff, and there will be mayoral runoff election in early May.
  • School Board: There are four at-large seats with three year terms (except for Seat B). The Anchorage School Board has made difficult decisions related to virtual learning and other supports throughout the pandemic, and as kids transition back to in-person learning, it is important we elect local leaders to balance the interests of education, families, and public health.
  • Nine municipal bonds are on the ballot which will fund every-day public services, including capital improvement projects, public safety, transit facilities and the Loussac Library, parks and trails, and the Anchorage Police Department.
  • Midtown Anchorage (Assembly District 4) voters will have another question on their ballot related to the recall of Assembly Member Felix Rivera, who is the Acting Chair of the Assembly. This is for Midtown voters only.

For help with the basics of voting and your ballot, the League of Women Voters has a Ballot Review guide for this election. Once you have filled out your ballot, you can return it using a first-class stamp or by dropping it off at a drop box. The regular municipal election secure drop boxes are at the following locations, and I've highlighted key drop boxes that are in House District 16 and around Anchorage:
  • Anchorage School District Education Center – 5530 East Northern Lights Boulevard
  • Begich Middle School – 7440 Creekside Center Drive
  • City Hall – 632 West 6th Avenue, Parking Lot
  • Election Center – 619 East Ship Creek Avenue
  • Loussac Library – 3600 Denali Street
  • New! Planning and Development Center (MOA Permit Center) - 4700 Elmore Road
  • UAA Alaska Airlines Center – 3550 Providence Drive
Virtual Meetings for Corporations 
Over the past year, we have seen organizations adapt swiftly to the pandemic through virtual teleconferencing - an option allowed under the state COVID-19 disaster emergency. Corporations, ANCSA Corporations, and nonprofit organizations have all supported permanent authorizations to meet virtually. However, due to the expiration of the state public health emergency, these entities face significant legal difficulties to meet virtually.

On Saturday, March 20, the Alaska House passed SB24 without any opposition. This bill would authorize virtual corporate board and shareholder meetings, as well as nonprofit board and membership meetings. I was pleased to carry SB24 for Senator David Wilson who originally drafted this legislation.

One thing I want to make clear: this does not require corporations or nonprofits to hold their board and shareholder meetings virtually by law - but it does allow it if the organization's by-laws allow it. If organizations have not already done so, they will need to allow virtual meetings in their bylaws. This is one of many positive innovations we've seen from our lives shifting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I look forward to seeing this legislation signed by the governor.
COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments
It has been absolutely incredible to see Alaska leading the nation in COVID vaccinations! All Alaskans 16 and older are now eligible. This is thanks to a phenomenal collaboration between tribal health, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, tribal and local governments, and countless frontline workers across the state. While we continue fighting this pandemic, we need to maintain our focus on reaching herd immunity by encouraging everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Visit to find available appointments across Alaska. If you have not received your vaccine yet, there are multiple appointments available in Anchorage. Thanks to the Anchorage i-team who designed the website and incorporate vaccine sites from the entire state.

If you need help making an appointment, please call the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services at 1-907-646-3322 to schedule a vaccine appointment. The phone line operates from Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Sat-Sun: 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Language interpretation services are available.
REMINDER: PFD Applications due on March 31st
Make sure you and your loved ones have filed your PFD applications! The deadline is next week 11:59PM on March 31, 2021.

You can easily file electronically using a myAlaska account to electronically sign, which only takes a couple minutes. For more information, go to If you file online requesting direct deposit, you will be eligible to receive your 2021 payment in the first disbursement at the start of October. If you file online requesting payment by check, or by submitting a paper application, you will be eligible to receive your 2021 payment in the second disbursement at the end of October.
I'm Here for You
If you haven't already, please visit the new House Coalition website at for the latest updates from our caucus.

Feel free to give me a call or send me a message anytime, I would be happy to hear from you.
Phone Number: (907) 465-4940
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