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First Session of 30th Alaska State Legislature

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Alaska State Legislature, House District 31
From the Desk of Representative Seaton:

April 3, 2017  Vol. 220


Greetings from Juneau this 77th day of session.  Our coalition remains committed to working toward a fiscal solution that is fair and balanced for all Alaskans, is sustainable over time, and addresses the whole deficit.  The finance committee put in many hours this week working on HB 115, the State Revenue Restructuring Act.  Thank you to everyone who participated in the second round of public testimony.  It is clear that many Alaskans have put time and energy into understanding the issues and solutions facing our state.  The work continues today and tomorrow as we address technical and policy amendments.  The four pillars of the coalition’s fiscal plan are intended to support a thriving economy over the long term; we need to stabilize our budget now because we don’t want to see a recession last another 10 years.
 
This session started out fast paced, and I expect it to get even faster now that we are in the month of April.  Senate Finance has the operating budget on their calendar this week.  After Senate Finance it will move to the floor, and then House and Senate negotiations will begin.  There are always some differences between the House and Senate budget.  This year those differences include a 5% Senate cut to education.  A 5% cut to state funding for our Kenai Peninsula School District equals $5.2 million.  A cut this large could mean a loss of over 50 teachers from our district.  Cuts to state funding also impact the amount the borough is allowed to contribute to our school district. So, between inflation, state funding cuts, and the reduction to what the borough can fund, our school districts get hit three times.  Education is a priority of my caucus and we will fight for restoring the funding. 
 
Though we all would like to be able to finish our work in 90 days, the enormity of the task before us, crafting a sustainable fiscal plan, requires time to do it right.  I will not sacrifice the important work before us to meet an arbitrary deadline that is not based in the constitution. There is just too much at stake.
 
Last weekend was the annual Legislative Skits, where staff get the chance to poke fun at the legislators and everything that happened in the Capitol during session.  It’s healthy to take a moment to laugh at yourself every once and a while. Thanks to all the hardworking performers for providing a night of humor.
 
I enjoyed visiting with several Kenai Peninsula constituents last week.  Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, Mike Navarre, and his chief of staff, Larry Persily, were both in town to provide testimony in House Finance and support for two bills that passed the House Floor.  HCR 7 is a resolution urging the governor to join the legislature in opposing the selection of the G South Alternative for the Sterling Highway Milepost 45-60 Project and support the Juneau Creak Alternative instead.  Click here for a project description and here for the letter signed by 19 organizations on the Kenai Peninsula in support of this resolution.  HB148 would allow the second-class boroughs (such as KPB) to create a non-taxable service area to provide emergency response services along state highway corridors not covered by existing emergency service areas.  This will allow KPB to establish such a service area along almost 90 miles of the Seward and Sterling highways.  Click here for a map of the proposed area.
 
Also visiting last week was Heather Schloeman from the Kenai Peninsula Boys & Girls Club.  Heather met with my staff and shared updates on all the great services being provided to children in the Kenai, Soldotna, and Kasilof areas.  I look forward to visiting again with the kids in Kasilof when I return to the District.
 
Weekly Survey
 
Please take a few minutes and answer two short questions in my weekly survey.  For the results from last week’s survey click here.  The weekly survey link and results will also be available on my webpage AkHouse.org/rep_seaton
 

Heather Schloeman from the Kenai Peninsula Boys & Girls Club was visiting last week and provided an update on all the great programs provided to children on the peninsula.
 

 

House Finance Committee

Mon. - Fri. 1:30-3:30pm
 

This week budget action has been taking place behind the scenes in the Senate Finance Committee as it continues work on its version of the operating budget.  Senate Finance has noticed meetings on the operating budget for Monday, April 3, at 9:00 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m.  I anticipate that a new Committee Substitute will be made public Monday morning with amendments likely to be taken up afterwards.  As I mentioned last week, once the operating budget has been adopted by the Senate, then we’ll be able to identify and analyze all of the differences.  There will probably be around 200 differences and each will be negotiated and ultimately agreed upon by the Conference Committee.
 
Senate Finance has also scheduled public testimony on SB 23, the Governor’s version of the capital budget bill, on Thursday, April 6, at 1:30 p.m.  Contact our Homer LIO 235-7878 or our Kenai LIO 283-2030 to testify.  If you cannot make it to the LIO, contact the Juneau LIO to get an Off-Net phone number: 907-465-4648.  You can also email testimony to: Finance.Committee@akleg.gov.  I expect that Senate Finance will come out with a Committee Substitute version of the capital budget relatively soon thereafter.
 
Last week the House Finance Committee continued work on the updated fiscal plan, HB 115.  On Monday my staff presented the new version of the bill.  The committee heard again from Carl Davis, with the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.  Mr. Davis provided an analysis of how HB 115 would affect Alaskans of various income levels.  His twelve page report is available on BASIS.  The report highlights the need for a combined fiscal plan that uses more than one revenue source; combining use of the permanent fund with a moderate income tax equally spreads the impact across Alaskans in the long term.  Just using the permanent fund, on the other hand, falls the heaviest on low income Alaskans because the dividend is a larger part of their income.    
 
Tuesday Brandon Spanos, Deputy Director of the Tax Division, answered questions on some of the more technical aspects of the bill.  One item that some committee members needed clarified was how the bill deals with s-corporations and partnerships.  The bill does not place a separate tax on these types of businesses. By definition, s-corporations and partnerships pass all of their income directly to the individual owners or shareholders which is then included in that individual’s taxable income.  The bill simply outlines how that pass-through income is to be considered.  Currently s-corporations and partnerships do not pay the corporate tax that regular c-corporations pay.  They were exempted from Alaska corporate tax.  The state had an individual income tax that captured the Sub-S revenue, but the exemption was not removed when the state income tax was repealed.  Every other state that has an income tax applies it to s-corporation and partnership income.
 
On Wednesday the committee took over six hours of public testimony on HB 115.  On Thursday, Brandon Spanos and Ken Alper with the Department of Revenue presented the fiscal notes for HB 115.  The income tax would raise $687 million in its first full year of implementation in FY2020, slightly more than the original version of the bill.  The cost to implement the tax would be about 1.5% of the total revenue it generates.  In FY2018 the draw from the earnings reserve of the permanent fund would provide $1.69 billion to the general fund and $833 million for the dividend ($1250 per person). Place Charts Here? (check with Paul)
 
Thursday we also introduced HB 137, State Council on the Arts; Public Corporation.  This would turn the State Council on the Arts into a quasi-independent public corporation with the intention of giving them more flexibility and ability to leverage private funds for their operations.  On Friday we brought HB 31, Sexual Assault Examination Kits back up, which attempts to reduce the number of untested sexual assault kits in Alaska and increase law enforcement training on how to process the kits.  We also heard HB 49, Extend Board of Direct-Entry Midwives, which moved from committee, and HB 141, Alaska Workforce Investment Board; Funds.
 
Today the committee will take up amendments to HB 115.  Several of the amendments before the committee are technical in nature; they are intended to make sure the language of the bill is very precise and protects the state against tax avoidance.  The amendments (and explanations for most of them) are available online.  HB 115 will also be up on Tuesday.
 
Tuesday we will introduce HB 146, School Tax, PFD Payment for School Tax, which would implement a series of flat tax amounts per person and would direct the money to the public education fund.  The legislature cannot dedicate these funds to education but it can indicate its intention to do so.  HB 31, Sexual Assault Examination Kits, is on the calendar again and may move from committee.  We will also hear HB 144, Extend the Board of Veterinary Examiners, for the first time.
 
On Wednesday we will have a confirmation hearing for Christopher Cooke of the Mental Health Board and will introduce HB 60, Motor Fuel Tax; Transportation Maintenance Fund, and HB 127, Criminal Convictions Overturned; Receive Past Permanent Fund Dividends.  HB 60 would increase our motor fuel tax, currently the lowest in the nation, from 8 cents a gallon to 16 cents and then to 24 cents.  The additional revenue would be used to fund transportation projects like road maintenance and improvement.  My office ran a poll on this bill last month; you can read the results here.  HB 127 would repay dividends to Alaskans who have had their criminal convictions overturned.  Currently you are ineligible for the dividend for any year that you are incarcerated or convicted of a felony; this would return the dividend only to those who are found to be wrongfully convicted.  Friday the committee will hear HB 47, Municipal PERS Contributions and Interest, and HB 131, Relocation Assistance for Federal Projects or Programs.

 


House Finance Schedule for the Week of April 3, 2017:
Mon. – Fri. 1:30 – 3:30 pm unless otherwise noted
 
Monday, April 3, 2017 1:00 PM
HB 115 - INCOME TAX; PFD CREDIT; PERM FUND INCOME
Amendments in Committee
Bills Previously Heard or Scheduled
 
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 9:00 AM
HB 146 - SCHOOL TAX; PFD PAYMENT FOR SCHOOL TAX
HB 31 - SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINATION KITS
HB 144 - EXTEND BOARD OF VETERINARY EXAMINERS- public testimony
HB 137 - ST. COUNCIL ON THE ARTS: PUBLIC CORP.
Bills Previously Heard or Scheduled
 
Tuesday, April 4, 2017  1:30 PM
HB 115 - INCOME TAX; PFD CREDIT; PERM FUND INCOME
Bills Previously Heard or Scheduled
 
Wednesday, April 5, 2017  1:30 PM
Confirmation Christopher Cooke – Mental Health Board of Trustees
HB 60 - MOTOR FUEL TAX; TRANSPORTATION MAINT. FUND- public testimony
HB 127 - CRIM. CONV. OVERTURNED: RECEIVE PAST PFD- public testimony
Bills Previously Heard or Scheduled
 
Thursday, April 6, 2017  9:00 AM
HB 114 - BOILER/PRESSURE VESSEL INSPECTION REPORTS- public testimony
HB 120-DEPT OF LAW: ADVOCACY BEFORE FERC- public testimony
HB 121-OCC. HEALTH AND SAFETY CIVIL PENALTIES- public testimony
Bills Previously Heard or Scheduled
 
 
Thursday, April 6, 2017  1:30 PM
HB 47 - MUNICIPAL PERS CONTRIBUTIONS/INTEREST- public testimony
HB 131 - RELOCATION ASSISTANCE FOR FED. PROJ/PROG- public testimony
Bills Previously Heard or Scheduled
 
Friday, April 7, 2017 1:30 PM
HB 111- OIL & GAS PRODUCTION TAXES AND CREDITS
Amendments
Bills Previously Heard or Scheduled
                                                                     
Saturday, April 8, 2017 10am
HB 111- OIL & GAS PRODUCTION TAXES AND CREDITS
Amendments
Bills Previously Heard or Scheduled

Public Testimony:  Contact Homer LIO 235-7878 or Kenai LIO 280-2030 for more information.  Email testimony to:  HouseFinance@akleg.gov

 

These beautiful silk paintings were created by Kenai Peninsula school district - Fireweed Academy students in grades third through sixth.  The art project was the result of a three week study of climate change.  Each silk panel was painted with a different climate change theme.  The Juneau LIO was so impressed they dedicated four panels in the Capital hallway this month. 
 
Speaker Edgmon and I met with (left to right) Louie Flora of The Alaska Center, Bert Hunter of Connecticut Green Bank, and Chris Rose of REAP-Renewable Energy Alaska Project. 
 

FY18 Budget & District 31 
 
There are no changes to either the Senate or House budgets at this time.  Click here to review last week’s update.  If you have questions on department budgets not listed last week, please contact Jenny in my office.  
 
 

Legislative Budget & Audit Committee

Meets as needed throughout the year.

No meeting was held last week nor scheduled for this week.

Other Committees
For more information on what is happening in other committees, please go to the Committee Chair’s newsletters which are linked here and also  located on the  Alaska House Majority Coalition webpage:  AkHouse.org.
 

Rep. Paul Seaton

Thanks for signing up for my newsletter and engaging in the public process. I try every week to keep you abreast of issues and bills discussed at the committee level, where YOU have an opportunity to participate.




 

Public Testimony Opportunities
In addition to those already noted above.
Contact the Homer or Kenai LIOs noted below for more information.

Monday: 04/03
1 pm House Judiciary
HB 172  Industrial Hemp Production Licenses
 
1:30 pm Senate Judiciary
SB15: E-Cigs: Possession & Sale to Minors
 
3:15 pm House Labor & Commerce
SB 14  Transportation Network Companies (Uber)
 
3:30 pm Senate Resources
SB88: AK Mental Health Trust Land Exchange
 
 
Tuesday: April 4
9 am Senate Finance
SB 6  Industrial Hemp Production
HB 16  Driver’s License Requirement; Disability: ID & Training
 
9 am Senate Labor & Commerce
SB79: Opioids Prescriptions; Database; Licenses
 
3 pm House Health & Social Services
HB186: Food Donations
HB164: Protect Vulnerable Adults/Long Term Care
 
Wednesday: April 5
9 am Senate Finance
HB23/SB48: Insurance for Dependents of Deceased Fire/Police Officers
 
9 am Senate Labor & Commerce
SB95: Mariculture Revolving Loan Fund
 
1 pm  House Judiciary
HB79: Omnibus Worker’s Compensation
 
1:30 pm House Finance
HB127: Receive PFD if Criminal Conviction Overturned
 
3:15 pm House Labor & Commerce
HB195: Insurer’s Use of Credit History/Scores
HB171: Employment of Prisoners
 
3:30 pm Senate Resources
SB89: Shellfish Enhancement Projects, Hatcheries
 
Thursday: April 6
1:30 pm Senate Finance
SB23: Capital Budget
 
3 pm House Health & Social Services
HB54: Terminally Ill: Ending Life Option
 
 
Friday: April 7
9 am Senate Finance
SB78: Perm. Fund Dividend Contribution Lottery
 
1 pm House Resources
HB130: Game Refuge/Critical Habitat Area Boundaries
HB177: Aquatic Invasive Species
 
1:30 pm Senate Finance
SB50: Increase Studded Tire Fee
 
Public testimony (when scheduled) can be given in person at your LIO or call (907) 465-4648 prior to the meeting for a phone option.  Written Comments are best addressed to the chair of the committee where the bill is being heard.  If you are interested in a public testimony meeting that is not listed above please call the Kenai LIO 283-2030 or Homer LIO 235-7878.  For a full list of all upcoming meetings, please visit the Alaska State Legislature’s webpage at akleg.gov
 
Have you met Amber?  Amber works at the Homer Legislative Information Office and wants to know what bills and subjects District 31 community members are interested in.  She will notify you of hearings and when you can provide oral testimony to the Legislature.  The LIO is a great source of information regarding State issues and legislation.  They carry copies of both the US and State Constitutions and can help you register to vote.  Call Amber at 235-7878 or stop by at 270 W. Pioneer Ave, Homer.  For those in the northern part of District 31, call or stop by to see Mary in the Kenai LIO at 283-2030, 145 Main St. Loop.  Click here for a list of other LIOs around the state.
 
 
Following Bills & Committees

Access bills and committee schedules through the Legislature’s BASIS home page.  Get automatic alerts when a bill is scheduled for hearing or public testimony by signing up for “Track Bills in BTMF”.  Most committee hearings are broadcast on Gavel-to-Gavel at www.360north or through the Live Now tab on the BASIS home page. 
 
NEW!  "Chat with Legislative Information Staff
Monday-Friday between 8:30am and 4pm you will find a new chat interface in the lower right corner of AKLeg.gov. The LIO staff can help answer questions about finding things on the website, answer questions relating to tracking legislation and help you get in touch with your legislator. Let us know how we can help you!
 
Legislative Information Offices (LIO)Our Homer and Kenai LIOs are a great resource for tracking bills and participating in hearings.
 
Homer: Amber Corey 235-7878, 270 West Pioneer Avenue
Kenai: Mary Bea Byrne 283-2030, 145 Main St Loop, Suite 217
 
POMs Email is the preferred method of communication for our office.  POMS is currently operational but may experience a delay in reaching our office.  If needed, contact your local LIO office who can email us your comments.
Alaska House Majority:  Education is a priority of my caucus and we will fight for restoring the funding. Though we all would like to be able to finish our work in 90 days, the enormity of the task before us, crafting a sustainable fiscal plan, requires time to do it right.  I will not sacrifice the important work before us to meet an arbitrary deadline that is not based in the constitution. There is just too much at stake.
 
 
Bits & Pieces
 

Pre-School in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Children who will be four years old by September 1, 2017, have an opportunity to attend pre-kindergarten classes at their local area school in the fall. To qualify for the classes, parents and guardians must contact their local area school to schedule a Pre-K assessment, and complete an application prior to the school screening appointment date.  Click here for more information and list of schools, phone numbers and screening dates. Contact KPBSD:  907-714-8888.
 
Board of Massage Therapists – Proposed Regulation Changes
Proposed change to the occupational license fees. Deadline to provide comments:  5pm May 2, 2017.  Contact: Jun Maiquis 907-465-2537.
 
New Burn Permits Required Starting April 1
General burn permits for open debris burning and use of burn barrels are required starting April 1 in areas under state wildland fire protection. Contact Tim Mowry, Division of Forestry, 907-356-5512 tim.mowry@alaska.gov
 

Contact Us

If you would like to speak to me regarding a specific issue, it is helpful to first get in touch with the member of my staff handling related issues. 

Homer: May-December
270 W. Pioneer Ave., Homer AK 99603
907-235-2921 or 1-800-665-2689; Fax: 907-235-4008

Juneau: January-April
State Capitol – 120 4th St., Juneau, AK 99801
New location: Room 505
907-465-2689 or 1-800-665-2689; fax: 907-465-3472

Kenai: 907-283-9170 (will transfer automatically to Homer or Juneau)

Rep. Paul Seaton Rep.Paul.Seaton@akleg.gov
website:  http://akhouse.org/rep_seaton/

Jenny Martin Jenny.Martin@akleg.gov
Constituent issues and questions, General Capital & Operating Budget information,CAPSIS requests, Personal Legislation

Taneeka Hansen Taneeka.Hansen@akleg.gov
Legislation & Sustainable Fiscal Plans in House Finance, Personal Legislation
 
Joan Brown Joan.Brown@akleg.gov
Operating Budget, Finance Subcommittees
 
Arnold Liebelt Arnold.Liebelt@akleg.gov
Operating Budget, Finance Subcommittees

Tom Spitzfaden  Tom.Spitzfaden@akleg.gov
Intern
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Rep. Seaton's Session Contact Information:
 

Mailing Address:
State Capitol - 120 4th Street,
Juneau, Alaska 99801
Phone: (907) 465-2689
Toll-free: 1-800-665-2689
Fax: (907) 465-3472
email: Rep.Paul.Seaton@akleg.gov

http://akhouse.org/rep_seaton/
 

 
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