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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:

January 30, 2017 Vol. 211


Greetings from Juneau this 14th day of session.  On Thursday I had the privilege to see Lance Peterson receive the Individual Artist award from the governor.  Lance has spent decades crafting quality theatre on the Homer spit and inspired many community members to step onto the stage.  This award is well deserved.
 
Last week Gunnar Knapp, Professor Emeritus of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), presented to the House Finance Committee.  His presentation focused on different potential fiscal plans and how fiscal and economic predictions look over time.  I was particularly struck by how much variability there can be.  Our fiscal predictions tend to look like nice smooth lines, but we have all experienced how often predictions of price or markets fail.  I also hosted two Lunch and Learn meetings that looked at our current fiscal challenge - one with Gunnar Knapp and the second with Cliff Groh.  At this point I believe everyone understands that doing nothing is not an option.  Both presentations put forward parameters and questions that need to be considered as we pursue potential solutions.
 
Regarding the state’s budget, I have been looking at multiple approaches to contain costs.  One option I have pursued in the committee and with individual departments is reducing future healthcare costs by improving nutrition and wellness.  For example a recent study in Canada estimated $12.5 billion in annual savings if residents had adequate levels of vitamin D. I view this as a rare cost savings opportunity. Simply by changing habits, along with a bit of education on the impacts of Vitamin D in northern climates, we have the ability to save millions in short and long term medical costs.
 
On a different note, I was grateful to learn that Central Peninsula Hospital has received a grant to start a 6-8 bed detox center.  Many communities on the Kenai Peninsula have been taking the initiative on programs to help address the addiction epidemic the state is facing, including the needle exchange in Homer.  This center is much needed infrastructure.
 
I enjoyed meeting with constituents, Nancy Lord, who came to town for Lance’s award, and Haejin Han from Homer’s Head Start program last week.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of you as the session progresses!
 
Amber from our Homer LIO will be having a “Lunch and Learn” at the Homer Public Library on Monday Feb 6th from 12-1pm.  She will be providing information on how to track issues in the Alaska State Legislature and how to be more engaged in the legislative process.  You can contact Amber at 235-7878.
 
Please check out my new Alaska House Majority Coalition webpage:  AkHouse.org/Rep_Seaton/ and our new Alaska House Majority Coalition Facebook page.


 
Lance Peterson (center) receiving his Individual Artists award with Governor Walker and other award recipients last week.
 

 

 

House Finance Committee

Mon. - Fri. 1:30-3:30pm

The House Finance Committee heard overviews from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and from all but six departments, which are scheduled for next week as you’ll see below.  The Finance Committee adopted work draft versions of the operating budget HB 57 and the mental health budget HB 59 that just made some technical corrections to the language sections of the bills.  Substantive changes to the budget bills will be made through the Committee’s amendment process at the end of February/beginning of March.
 
The House Finance Committee heard from the Alaska Travel Industry Association on a proposal for tourism marketing funding through a self-assessment tourism improvement district model with a state match. 
 
With regards to Mr. Knapp’s presentation this week,  Mr. Knapp modeled different fiscal proposals and highlighted the implications of them over time.  He also left the Committee, and the public, with some salient points to consider:

  • There are many potential ways to address Alaska’s fiscal challenge and end unsustainable draws on our savings.
  • They all involve some combination of:
    • Cut expenditures
    • Increase revenue
    • Cut dividends
    • Save less of our Permanent Fund earnings
  • The less we use any one option the more we have to use the others.
  • We need to talk to more about what combination of options is feasible, sustainable and best for Alaskans.
  • We need to talk less about why we don’t like particular options. 
 
On Thursday evening we also held the first hearing on HB 23, Insurance for Dependents of Deceased Fire & Police.  This bill is aimed at ensuring continued medical insurance for the surviving spouse and dependents of firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty.  A version of this bill passed the House unanimously at the end of the special session last year, but did not move out of the Senate.  Last year’s version would have insured the survivors through the existing PERS system, but not all municipal firefighter's or police are included in PERS.  This newest version would create a separate fund, outside of PERS, that eligible survivors would apply to for medical coverage.  There are still some questions to be answered about exactly how the fund will work and who is and should be included.  Public Testimony will be this Wednesday, February 1st, at 2:30 p.m.
 
Next week, the Committee has a full schedule:
 
Monday, January 30, 2017                                                           
FY18 Budget Overviews:
  • Department of Law
  • Department of Fish and Game
  • Department of Corrections                                                           
 
Tuesday, January 31, 2017                                                           
FY18 Budget Overviews:
  • Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
  • University of Alaska                                                                          
  • Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
 
Wednesday, February 1, 2017                                                   
  • Indirect Expenditure Report:   presenters: Brodie Anderson, staff to Rep. Foster; Alexei Painter, Legislative Finance Analyst, Legislative Finance Division; Dan Stickel, Chief Economist, and Ky Clark, Economist, Department of Revenue
  • HB 23-INS. FOR DEPENDS. OF DECEASED FIRE/POLICE
Public Testimony-will begin at approximately 2:30 PM.
 
Thursday, February 2, 2017                                                         
  • HB 61-PERM. FUND:DEPOSITS;DIVIDEND;EARNINGS
(This is the Governor’s proposal for his Fiscal plan.)
 
Friday, February 3, 2017                                                               
  • HB 61-PERM. FUND:DEPOSITS;DIVIDEND;EARNINGS
  • SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET (to FY17 budget)
Presented by: Pat Pitney, Director, Office of Management and Budget
 
In addition, the House Finance operating budget subcommittees are well underway with their meetings.  The subcommittees have to complete their work by February 24th and report back to the full Finance Committee with the subcommittees chair’s recommendations for budgetary and/or statutory changes. Click here to find a list of subcommittees and their meeting schedules.
 

 

I enjoyed visiting with Haejin Han of Homer's Head Start program and other Head Start staff from around the state.

 

Budget
 
For a summary of how some areas of the Governor’s budget would affect our district please refer to our Dec 22 newsletter or contact Jenny for a copy.  There are more summaries from the Governor’s website at www.omb.alaska.gov
 
CAPSIS:  Reminder to those wishing to enter a capital project into CAPSIS, the system is now open.  The deadline is February 13, but if you would like Jenny to review your request before you submit it, please enter your request into CAPSIS by January 31.   Similar to the last two years, I do not anticipate any available funding for community capital projects entered through the CAPSIS system due to our state’s fiscal deficit and need for a sustainable budget. 

 
Tina and I enjoyed visiting with Homer resident, Nancy Lord, while she was in town for the Governor's Arts & Humanities Awards.

 

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.
 
  • (H) Labor & Commerce
    • Jan 30 Monday 3:15 PM – HB 18 RACE CLASSICS
    • Feb 01 Wednesday 3:15 PM HB 49 EXTEND BOARD OF DIRECT-ENTRY MIDWIVES 
  • (S) Labor & Commerce
    • Feb 02 Thursday 1:30 PM SB 14 TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANIES 
  • (S) Resources
    • Jan 30 Monday 3:30 PM SB 30 APPROVAL: ROYALTY OIL SALE TO PETRO STAR
    • Feb 01 Wednesday 3:30 PM SB 3 SMALL VESSEL WASTEWATER EXEMPTION; 1% ART 
  • (H) Fisheries
    • Jan 31 Tuesday 10:00 AM - HB 14 LEG. APPROVAL OF BRISTOL BAY SULFIDE MINE
    • Feb 02 Thursday 10:00 AM HB 56 COMMERCIAL FISHING LOANS 
  • (H) Transportation
    • Feb 02 Thursday 1:30 PM HB 51 SMALL VESSEL WASTEWATER EXEMPTION 
  •  (S) Health & Social Services
    • Feb 03 Friday 1:30 PM SB 36 OPTOMETRY & OPTOMETRISTS
 
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.
 
Call Amber at the Homer LIO for more information: 235-7878.
 
 
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.


 
I had a chance to meet with Aliza Kazmi and Carmen Lowry of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault last week. I appreciate the support the network provides to Alaskans and the shelters in our communities.
 
 
Bits & Pieces
 
New members sought for Snowmobile Trails Advisory Council
Applicants must submit a letter of interest that describes their professional background and snowmobile interests, experience, and knowledge, and three professional references to Darcy Harris, the State Trails Program Coordinator, via email at darcy.harris@alaska.gov no later than February 20 at 5 p.m.
 
Nominations Open for Principal Awards
The Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals is accepting nominations for the 2017 National Distinguished Principal. Nominations are due February 24. Complete the nomination form attached and send it to Kim Bautista, AAESP Vice President, at bautista_kim@asdk12.org.
 
Creative Writing to UAA/Alaska Dispatch Contest
February 10 is the deadline to enter the 35th Creative Writing Contest coordinated by the Alaska Center for the Book and sponsored by the University of Alaska Anchorage and Alaska Dispatch News. All ages are invited to submit their best efforts in poetry, fiction, and/or nonfiction. Questions: creativewritingcontest@alaskadispatch.com.
 
 

 
Over the last two weeks, Juneau's League of Women Voters brought several school groups into our House Finance Committee room to learn about the legislative process.

 


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
Note: we will have a new Majority Coalition website soon!  The new link will be provided in future newsletters.

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

 
Follow me on Facebook at Representative Paul Seaton

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


 

 
Newsletter Archives

For past newsletters:
Jan 23, 2017 Newsletter
Jan 16, 2017 Newsletter
Dec 22 Transition Newsletter

 
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