Monday May 6th, 2019
Items of Interest in this E-News:
  • Crime Bill
  • Senate Passes Operating Budget
  • Medicaid in Alaska
  • House Closes Loopholes in Assault and Sexual Assault Laws
  • Loan Forgiveness for Health Care Providers Passes the House and Senate
  • Upcoming District 16 Community Councils
House Bill 49: Crime --Coming to the floor
The House Finance Committee has been hearing HB 49 for the last few days. This bill is designed to address some of the community concerns about crime and addresses issues including a lack of tools to fight drug crime, mandatory parole and pretrial release.

There are some legitimate concerns which need to be addressed. For example, moving to mandatory parole for prisoners has resulted in an increased number of parole revocations, from 649 in 2016 to 1,274 in 2017. The details of the bill are still coming out. It is expected to come to the floor in the next few days.
Senate Passes Operating Budget
The Senate passed its version of the operating budget last Thursday, after considering the budget sent over by the House on April 11th.

Last Friday, the House failed to concur with the changes made to the budget in the Senate, which means we are in the final steps of passing a state budget. Members from both the House and Senate have been appointed to a conference committee to work out the changes between the budgets passed by both bodies, come to an agreement, and pass the final budget.

I support some elements of the Senate budget, including full finding for School Bond Debt Reimbursement. The Governor's proposed cut to School Bond Debt Reimbursement would result in an increase in property taxes by $450 for the average home owner in Anchorage.

If you agree that School Bond Debt Reimbursement should be fully funded, email Operating Budget Conference Committee members Rep. Neal Foster , Rep. Tammie Wilson , and Rep. Cathy Tilton.
Medicaid in Alaska
There has been a lot of talk around the capitol building about cutting Medicaid to balance the state budget. What people aren't talking about is the important role Medicaid plays in our state's economy, and how we've only improved the program's efficiency over time.

We are now paying less to keep more Alaskans insured, finding efficiencies to save costs to the state, and bolstering the economy with jobs and healthy workers.

Our state has the highest employment rate in the nation, and deep cuts to Medicaid could result in thousands of Alaskans having to leave their jobs for health related reasons. I support efficiencies, but also support this program that keeps low income working, disabled, retired Alaskans and children insured.
House Closes Loopholes in Assault and Sexual Assault Laws
Sometime ago a man named Justin Schneider strangled a woman until she lost consciousness, ejaculated onto her body, and left her on the side of the road. He served no jail time due to loopholes in our assault and sexual assault statutes.

That case was a wake up call for Alaskans, and the House has passed HB 14 to prevent that from happening again.

HB 14 is just the beginning. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest national Network only 2% of rapes ever result in a felony conviction or jail time. According to STAR, about 37% of adult women in Alaska have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. This means that for the roughly 260,000 adult women in Alaska, over 96,000 have experienced sexual violence.

I thank Representative John Lincoln for introducing this bill. I was one of the first co-sponsors to HB 14. I am proud of the good work we did over the weekend but we still have work to do.
Loan Repayment for Health Care Providers Passes the House and Senate
Representative Spohnholz carried SB 93 on the House Floor
This session I introduced HB 114, also known as SHARP-3, (Supporting Healthcare Access through Loan Re-Payment), which creates a student loan repayment and direct incentives program for healthcare professionals working in rural and healthcare shortage areas.

The program will be 100% privately funded, but housed and administrated by the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS). By administering this program through the state, employees will receive these benefits tax-free. SHARP 3 will help us recruit and retain more health care providers in high-demand fields who agree to work in rural communities or for under-served populations.

Sharp III unanimously passed both the House and Senate last week as SB 93 sponsored by Senator Wilson (R), made it through the legislative process first. I was proud to be a part of this smart, bipartisan effort to make careers as health care providers in Alaska more attractive and address our shortage of health care providers in Alaska.
Upcoming District 16 Community Councils
The most local form of government we have in Alaska is the  Community Council.   We have three in our district. You can find the agendas and more information on the individual community council websites we have linked below. If you don't know which one is yours, call our office at  (907) 465-4940  and we will help you figure it out!

  • Russian Jack - Second Wednesday of the month: the next one is May 8th, 6:30 pm at Wonder Park Elementary School.

  • Northeast - Third Thursday of the month; the next one is May 16th, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Muldoon Community Assembly Youth Facility, 1005 North Ermine St.

  • University Area - First Wednesday of the month: the next one is June 5th, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the University Baptist Church on Tudor Road.
I'll send out email updates fairly frequently during the legislative session. Please let me know if you want to know about anything that I don't cover in the updates. You can reply to this email or give me a call!

Keep in touch!
Phone Number: (907) 465-4940