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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:

March 6, 2017 Vol. 216


Greetings from Juneau this 49th day of session.  On Saturday Tina left to take our granddaughter Hazel home.  What exhausting fun to have a five-year-old visitor for the past several weeks!
 
Last week and over the weekend the House Finance Committee took public testimony on the operating budget.  Thank you to the more than 160 Alaskans who called in or showed up to testify, including the 11 from District 31.  Many shared their support for fully funding education and their willingness to pay taxes to ensure that funding.  Others asked for further reductions, or more funding for behavioral health services.
 
At the beginning of last week, the House Finance Committee considered budget amendments from the subcommittees and on statewide items.  First round budget changes in past years were rolled into a new draft of the budget without a committee vote on each piece.  This year each budget amendment was discussed and voted on by the full Finance Committee.  One of the biggest amendments adopted by the committee uses a structured transfer from the permanent fund earnings reserve to fully fund the budget currently under consideration (fiscal year 18, which starts July 1, 2017) and to restore pupil transportation funds by forward funding education.  My hope in fully funding the FY18 budget is that it will allow us to get to work on our biggest job, a comprehensive sustainable fiscal plan. 
 
But we are not out of the woods yet; the House Finance budget fully funds FY18, but we will still have a deficit in FY19. Without new revenue sources and a fully developed fiscal plan, the state budget will lack stability and the Alaskan economy will continue to stagnate. 
 
The governor’s proposed FY18 budget included two draws from the earnings reserve; one for the current FY17 budget that would have essentially gone straight into our other savings account, the constitutional budget reserve, and would not be available for spending.  The second draw would have occurred in FY18, but would not be enough to fully fund that year.  His proposed budget also underfunded pupil transportation by $6.4 million.
 
Our House Finance draft of the budget also takes two draws from the earnings reserve, as the governor proposed, but instead of placing the FY17 draw in the general fund, the money is placed in the Public Education Fund which forward funds education in FY18.  This also reverses the governor’s proposed $6.5 million reduction in pupil transportation funds.  The FY18 draw is placed in the general fund for use in the FY18 budget, and a portion of it is directed to dividends.  There are a few other, smaller components of the amendments but this is the heart of the matter.
 
So, if it is possible to fully fund the FY18 budget, why do we need a fiscal plan?  The answer is simple: it would not be sustainable without new revenue sources.  The FY18 budget now includes an FY18 draw from the earnings, so the FY19 budget cannot use another draw to fund the education budget.  The earnings reserve would begin to drain faster than it can be refilled with new earnings.  Next year’s budget needs to include new revenues to eliminate the deficit.  That is why it is critical for us move the budget out and focus on a fiscal plan this year.
 
Education continues to be a priority to the Coalition, but it is also one of the largest pieces of the budget.  The current House budget includes a one-time 42% reduction in school bond debt reimbursement assistance to municipalities.  While school infrastructure is important, the associated bond debt belongs to the municipalities and not the school districts.  Municipalities have other means to raise revenues or reallocate costs.  A cut to the Base Student Allocation (BSA), on the other hand, goes directly to the school districts.  They have no options to raise revenues or shift costs.  Some members in the Senate have expressed interest in a potential BSA cut of up to 5%, which would be almost $75 million.  The other budget cut option that has been discussed is an increase to the amount that both school districts and municipalities pay for the Public Employees Retirement System and Teachers Retirement System.  I would much prefer to see a cut to municipal school bond debt assistance, which can be offset by new revenues, than to see a cut to the BSA. 
 
Last week I enjoyed visiting with several Kenai Peninsula constituents.  I met with the new CEO of the South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services, Jay Bechtol.  Joyanna Geisler was in town for the AARP conference.  Rick Davis and Bruce Richards from the Central Peninsula Hospital were both here.  Samantha Cunningham, one of our Homer volunteer paramedics, was here with other regional EMS directors from around the state doing blood pressure and stress tests in the capital and also demonstrating how the naloxone kits work to reverse the effects of an overdose from opioids.  The new director and former director of the Homer PRIDE program, Lisa Harbold-Pitta and Susan Drathman were both in town for the annual Key Campaign.  I also enjoyed meeting with both the Soldotna City Manager Mark Dixon and City Engineer Kyle Cornelis.

 
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 .

 

I always enjoy meeting with the Key Campaign members to discuss disability services when they are in town for their annual rally:  (left to right) Marcie Livesay (ResCare Alaska), Lisa Harbold-Pitta, the new Homer PRIDE program director, and Susan Drathman, the former PRIDE program director and Key Campaign volunteer.
 

 

House Finance Committee

Mon. - Fri. 1:30-3:30pm
 

On Monday and Tuesday of last week, House Finance finished consideration of budget subcommittee amendments and statewide budget amendments.  The two biggest items from that round of amendments are already discussed in the newsletter introduction.  On Wednesday, a new draft of the budget bill was presented to the committee, incorporating those amendments.  The House Finance draft budget reduces unrestricted general fund expenditures by $40.7 million from the governor’s budget and by $100.5 million from last year’s management plan for state agencies and statewide items such as debt and state retirement assistance. 
 
Thursday through Saturday the committee scheduled over 15 hours of public testimony.  There was a diverse range of comments, including some that asked for further budget cuts, but many of the testifiers supported a comprehensive fiscal plan to fully fund important components like education and behavioral health.  Thank you to everyone who turned out to testify.
 
Today the committee will consider HB 49, Extend the Board of Direct Entry Midwives; HB 56, Commercial Fishing Loans; HB 81, Alaska Energy Efficiency Loans; and HB 106, Civil Legal Services Fund.  Each of these bills is fairly short and straight-forward, but because today will be the first day they are heard in committee each will likely be held over for an additional hearing.  This ensures the public has adequate time to understand and comment on the bill.
 
Starting Tuesday, the committee is back to work on the operating budget and will be taking amendments from all finance committee members.  Operating budget amendments, discussion, and passing out the final draft will likely take longer than expected as the Republican minority has put forward over 300 amendments.  The new electronic amendment system created by the Legislative Finance staff has worked well to streamline the amendment process, however each allocation change has to be in a separate amendment.
 

 


House Finance schedule for the week
Note time changes and additional meetings
 
Monday, March 6, 2017  1:30-3:30 PM      
HB 49 – EXTEND BOARD OF DIRECT-ENTRY MIDWIVES
HB 56 – COMMERCIAL FISHING LOANS
HB 81 – AK ENERGY EFFICIENCY LOANS: ELIGIBILITY
HB 106 – CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES FUND
 
Tuesday, March 7, 2017 10:00 AM - NOON
HB  57–APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS
HB  59–APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET
Amendments
 
Tuesday, March 7, 2017  1:30-5:30 PM  
HB  57–APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS
HB  59–APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET
Amendments
 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM
HB  57–APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS
HB  59–APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET
Amendments
 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017  1:30-7:00 PM      
HB  57–APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS
HB  59–APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET
Amendments
 
Thursday, March 9, 2017  1:30-3:30 PM      
HB  57–APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS
HB  59–APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET
 
Bills Previously Heard or Scheduled
 
Friday, March 10, 2017  1:30-3:30 PM       
Bills Previously Heard or Scheduled
 
Saturday, March 11, 2017  9:00 AM
Bills Previously Heard or Scheduled
 

 

It was great meeting up with Joyanna Geisler (Kenai Peninsula Independent Living Center director) who was in town for the AARP conference.

FY18 Budget & District 31 
 
My staff has prepared a summary of the House Finance FY18 operating budget work draft that includes the changes made by subcommittees.  The summary includes those programs and services that people from District 31 have called to check on with my office.  If you need more information or are not seeing a program that you are interested in, please contact Amber in the Homer LIO, Mary in the Kenai LIO or Jenny in my office to assist you.  

 
The new South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services CEO, Jay Bechtol, and I met to discuss social services and substance abuse grants.
 
 

Legislative Budget & Audit Committee

Meets as needed throughout the year.

There were no meetings planned last week or 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 3/6
1pm House Judiciary
HB 120 DEPT OF LAW: ADVOCACY BEFORE FERC
 
3:15pm House Labor & Commerce
HB 141 AK WORKFORCE INVESTMENT BOARD;FUNDS
 
3:30pm Senate Resources
Consideration of Board of Game appointees: Ted Spraker & Lawrence Van Daele
Big Game Commercial Services Board:  Adam Trombley
 
4pm Senate Finance
SB 70 APPROP. LIMIT/BUDGET PROCESS/PERM FUND
 
6:30pm House Resources
HB 111 OIL & GAS PRODUCTION TAX;PAYMENTS;CREDITS
 
Tuesday 3/7
8am House Community & Regional Affairs
HB 148 SECOND CLASS BOROUGH SERVICE AREAS
 
10am House Fisheries
HB 76 MARICULTURE REVOLVING LOAN FUND
HB 128 SHELLFISH ENHANCE. PROJECTS; HATCHERIES
 
1:30pm Senate Labor & Commerce
SB 16 FIDUCIARY ACCESS TO DIGITAL ASSETS
SB 32 PRESCRIPTIONS FOR BIOLOGICAL PRODUCTS
 
3:30pm Senate State Affairs
SJR 1 CONST AM: GUARANTEE PERM FUND DIVIDEND
 
5:30pm House State Affairs
HB 44 LEGISLATIVE ETHICS: VOTING & CONFLICTS
HCR 1 AMEND UNIFORM RULES: ABSTAIN FROM VOTING
 
Wednesday 3/8
1pm House Judiciary
HB 121 OCC. HEALTH AND SAFETY CIVIL PENALTIES
 
3:15pm House Labor & Commerce
HB 79 OMNIBUS WORKERS' COMPENSATION
HB 108 FIDUCIARY ACCESS TO DIGITAL ASSETS
 
Thursday 3/9
1:30pm Senate Labor & Commerce
SB 56 PRODUCT WARRANTIES & REQUIRED UPDATES
 
3:00pm House Health and Social Services
HB 25 INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR CONTRACEPTIVES
HB 123 DISCLOSURE OF HEALTH CARE COSTS
 
3:30pm Senate State Affairs
HB 16 DRIV. LICENSE REQ;DISABILITY:ID &TRAINING
SCR 4 TASK FORCE ON UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS
 
Friday 3/10
8:00am House Education
HB 137 ST. COUNCIL ON THE ARTS: PUBLIC CORP.
 
8:00 Senate Education
SB 66 ST. COUNCIL ON THE ARTS: PUBLIC CORP.
SB 17 STEVENS/INOUYE UNIVERSITY EXCHANGE PROG.
 
1:00pm House Resources
Confirmation hearings: AK Oil & Gas Conservation Commission
 
3:15pm House Labor & Commerce
HB 132 TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANIES
SB 14 TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANIES
 
3:30pm Senate Resources
Public testimony on AK Oil & Gas Conservation Commission:  Hollis French & Dan Seamount

 
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

 
Thanks to Kachemak Selo school for sending in artwork to display in the Capitol! Their work is featured outside the Governor's floor.  If your school would like to send in their art, contact Jenny in my office.
 
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.
 
 
Bits & Pieces
 
Alaska Artistic License
The state of Alaska is opening a call to all Alaskans to brainstorm, create, and submit designs for their ideal license plate. Please get in touch with Alicia Norton in Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins office, at 465-3732, or alicia.norton@akleg.gov.
 
Public Comment on Marijuana & Alcohol Regulation Changes
Public comment period ends March 30, 2017, for the following alcohol and marijuana proposed regulation changes:
  • Application requirements for marijuana retail store and product manufacturing licenses
  • Ownership change to be reported
  • Effect on license of restriction of sale
  • Marijuana Retail Store Notice Requirements
  • Testing requirements for marijuana and marijuana products
  • Consumption at wineries
  • Common Carrier Rules for Marine Vessels
  • Alcohol server education requirements
Please contact Jedediah R. Smith of the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office at jedediah.smith@alaska.gov or (907) 334-2195.
 
Public Comment on production tax lease allowance
Department of Natural Resources has extended the public comment period to April 6, 2017. Contact Jhonny Meza at (907) 269-8774 or jhonny.meza@alaska.gov.

 
It was sure great to have my granddaughter Hazel here this past week.  Here she is checking out my chair in the House Finance committee room.
 

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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