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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:
May 30, 2017  Vol. 228

Greetings on this the 12th day of the first special session of the 30th legislature.  I and I’m sure many of you are honoring this Memorial Day with family and friends as we remember those who sacrificed their lives in service of our country.  I appreciate all the services being held in District 31: 10am Hickerson Memorial Cemetery in Homer; 12pm Memorial Day Services at the American Legion in Anchor Point, and a 12:30p barbeque followed by a 2pm Memorial Day Service at the American Legion in Ninilchik, and for those farther north there is the 12:00pm ceremony at Leif Hanson Memorial Park in Kenai.
 
Thank you to all that attended my Homer open house on Thursday.  We counted over 50 people over the more than two-hour event.  There was a robust mix of opinions in attendance which was very representative of the opinions that my staff and I have been hearing from constituents who call and email my office from across Alaska.  There was support for small businesses, education, a vibrant economy, health care, and quality of life.  Based on what I heard, these are issues we all support and with these commonalities it opens the discussion for compromising and moves us in the direction of the Alaska we want for our families and our children’s future.  The debate we had last Thursday was lively and overall respectful for differing opinions and beliefs.  I appreciated hearing from all of you and encourage you to keep sharing your ideas and concerns with me and my office.  If you had any follow up questions or wanted some of the handouts or data I mentioned, please contact my office.  Please share my newsletter with your friends if they have any questions as well about these issues facing our state.
 
While back in the district, I enjoyed visiting with Ninilchik residents at the Ninilchik Emergency Services Pancake Breakfast fundraiser on Saturday.  We got an update on the new fire department and a demonstration of the Life Med helicopter landing.  I also enjoyed the octopus shaped pretzels we found at the Domestic Engineers’ bake sale.
 
Back in Juneau…
 
Last Monday the House passed HB 159, which aims to reduce opioid addiction and abuse by creating sideboards to limit the amount of excess or unnecessary prescription opioids.  Doctors would have to note specifically in a patient’s chart if they want to prescribe more than 7 days for the first prescription.  The House also assigned the conference committee for HB 111, oil and gas tax credits.  HB 111 is one of the key pieces to the fiscal plan that needs to be negotiated this year, but there are many differences between the House and Senate versions. The Senate version converts the cash credits to carry-forward losses but does nothing to lower the $1.4 billion impact they will have on the state’s revenue, while the House version ends cash credits and limits the carry-forward losses to $610 million while increasing tax revenue at low and midrange prices.  We are still waiting for the Senate to assign their conference members.
 
I hope we will see various conference committees meeting this week but we still do not have an alternative revenue proposal on the table, which is crucial to finishing work on the other items.  Without a finalized budget the governor is required to give state employees adequate notice of a potential layoff, generally a month’s notice.  This means on June 1st the state will issue about 18,000 pink slips and the university will issue another 3,500.  The governor has indicated that while he did not want to limit things by a specific revenue bill at the beginning of the special session, if there is nothing on the table by the time pink slips go out he is likely to put one or more proposals forward.  I don’t believe any of the caucuses want to see a shutdown on July 1.  That would not only be chaotic and harmful to thousands of Alaskan state employees, it would also cost the state a significant amount to lay off and rehire everyone.
 
I understand compromise will be necessary in order for us to get our work completed. I am not opposed to considering a broad based tax other than income tax, or even changing tax brackets within the income tax bill that the House passed. However, whatever solution we agree to will need to provide a complete fix and not include budget cuts to education or further cuts to Alaskan’s dividends.
 
Thank you to the constituents across the state who continue to reach out with their support for education.  The members of the operating budget conference committee (3 from the House and 3 from the Senate) have been getting many emails and phone calls in support of education funding.  It’s important to understand that House and Senate conference committee members are representing not only their own personal positions but also the positions of their individual caucuses.  There were 15 Senate Majority members who voted to include a 5.7% cut to education (about $70 million) in the Senate’s version of the operating budget.  This is the position that two of the Senate Majority conference committee members are supporting (the third is from the Senate Minority and voted against the cut to education).  The 22 members of the House Majority Coalition voted not to cut K-12 education below the Governor's budget.  I and the other House Majority representative on the conference committee support this position and will advocate for fully funding education during the conference committee meetings.  Remember, it takes the agreement of two House and two Senate members of the Conference Committee to pass any item in the budget.
 
So if you support fully funding education, it’s important to contact all 15 members of the Senate Majority, not just the two on the conference committee.  Share your concerns and ask them to abandon their targeted cut to K-12 education.  Several weeks ago, the same Senate Majority publicly abandoned their senior citizen Pioneer Home cuts by taking a ‘Sense of the Senate' floor vote.  That same process is available to the Senate Majority now in support of education.  Ask them to take another ‘Sense of the Senate’ to publicly instruct their conference committee negotiators to abandon the education cut and give security back to our school districts.  This would enable school districts to plan for their budgets and enable them to rehire most teachers who received layoff notices. 
Contact the Senate Majority members:
District 31 email: Sen.Gary.Stevens@akleg.gov For other districts click here
 
It is important that legislators hear from you.  Thank you for taking time to be part of this process.
 
Thanks to the over 50 people who attended my open house in Homer last week.
 
Together a Broad-Based Tax, House CS-SB26 Permanent Fund Protection Plan, and HB111 Oil & Gas Production Taxes & Credits, along with sensible budget cuts, make up the Alaska House Majority Coalition’s complete, comprehensive and sustainable fiscal plan.  Your testimony, phone calls and emails are helping to shape the Coalition’s four-pillar plan which fully funds our state budget
 
  • Broad-Based Tax:  Email your Senator and get their commitment to include a broad-based tax as part of the fiscal solution this year.
  • House CS-SB26 Permanent Fund Protection Plan:  Email your Senator and request their support for an equitable plan which balances out the PFD regressive reductions with a progressive broad-based tax.
  • HB111:  Email your Senator and ask them to restore the bill to the House version. 
More resources are on my website or call my office if you have more questions.
For more resources on the budget and economy click here and here for a report on the fiscal model.
 
Operating & Capital Budgets

Operating
 
With many lawmakers returning to their districts last week, there has been no change to the operating budget, HB 57.  I am hopeful we will start seeing movement on some of the other bills subject to the Governor’s call this week.  Once that occurs we can expect more negotiations on the operating budget.
 
Capital
There’s also been no change to the status of the capital budget bill, SB 23.  As I mentioned last week, the capital budget is generally the very last appropriation bill to be finalized and passed.  This is because the capital budget also includes the supplemental bill along with last minute technical fixes and operating changes that might be needed.
 
FY18 Budget & District 31
 
There are no changes to the operating and capital budget summaries from several weeks ago: click here for House Operating -- Senate Operating -- Senate Capital.  These summaries reflect some of the items in each budget that district constituents often contact my office about.  If you have additional questions, contact my staff Jenny. 
 
In January, the Senate Republican Majority polled Alaskans on K12 education funding, broad-based taxes, and adjusting oil company tax credits. Those results showed Alaskans favor a comprehensive fiscal plan that includes reducing tax credits for the oil and gas industry, a broad-based tax, and continuing to fully fund K12 education.
 
By April, the House Majority Coalition passed their entire fiscal plan including budget cuts, a guaranteed PFD, income tax, full funding for K12 education, and adjustments to oil company taxes/credits.
 
Now, as the Special Session begins, we are curious to know where public opinion stands.  Please take a minute to complete the survey.  There are only 10 short questions which are identical to the ones sent out in January.
 

Click here to take the new survey.
 
Click here to review the January survey results.
 
Here are links to calculators to let you get a rough idea of possible impacts on your own household:

Household cost of Senate Majority PFD cap.
Household cost of House Majority Income Tax. 
 
Thank you for taking a few minutes to take the survey. 


House Finance
House Finance did not meet this week.  As of today there are no House Finance meetings scheduled this week.  I expect the committee will meet again once the Senate has passed their version of the motor fuels tax.  The capital budget will also receive a committee hearing at a later date, once we are closer to resolution on other items.
 

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
Due to the 24 Hr. Rule being in effect, please contact the Homer or Kenai LIOs noted below for more information.

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
 
Update:  Homer LIO
Reminder as of May 10, the Homer LIO transitioned from a full time office to "open as needed".  Phone and email messages will be checked frequently.  For those on the Homer LIO email list, notices will still be sent out regarding upcoming meetings and public testimony.  The office will open for teleconferences that the community wants to participate in if they have prior notice (please give the Homer LIO at least one day’s notice prior to the meeting date).  If you would like your name added to the email list or you have other questions, contact Amber at the Homer LIO:  235-7878  LIO.Homer@akleg.gov.  The Kenai LIO remains open full time, year round:  283-2030 LIO.Kenai@akleg.gov.
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

Public Comment: Kasilof River Special Use Area South Side Improvement Project
Department of Natural Resources is taking public comment on site concept plans for the Kasilof River Capital Improvement Project on the south side of the river.  The department received capital monies to improve access and sanitation facilities to support the personal use fisheries at the mouth of the Kasilof River. The concept plans are available for review beginning May 18, 2017 through August 31, 2017.  For additional information about the Kasilof River Special Use Area and the proposed site concept plans visit: http://dnr.alaska.gov/mlw/kasilof/.
Public meeting: Soldotna Wed. June 14, 6:30-8:30p at Joyce Carver Memorial Public Library in the Community Room.  Email public comments to: christianna.colles@alaska.gov or ben.hagedorn@alaska.gov; or Fax: 269-8913 by Aug 31, 2017. More information: Christy Colles at (907) 269-8116 or Ben Hagedorn at (907) 269-8111.
 
National Trails Day in District 31
Kachemak Bay State Park: June 3 contact: kbayvolunteer@gmail.com  Kids activities, trail maintenance, hiking, etc.
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge:  June 4 at 2pm for hiking.  Contact: Michelle_ostrowski@fws.gov 260-2820
 
 
Public Comments on Regulations for Marine Pilot License & Pilot Stations/Pickup Points
Click above link for draft regulations and more information. Deadline to submit comments is 5pm June 2.  Send comments to: jun.maiquis@alaska.gov
 
Proposed Changes to Child Care Assistance program
Dept. of Health and Social Services is taking comments on proposed changes to regulations on the child care assistance program related to the program rates, enrollment authorization, family contribution toward care, and continued participation. Deadline is 5pm June 5, 2017.  Send comments to:  samantha.ray@alaska.gov   (907) 269-4681
 
Proposed Changes to Community Based Waivers
Dept. of Health and Social Services is taking comments on proposed changes to Medicaid Home & Community Based Waiver services, Person-Centered settings, and other general provisions.  Deadline is 5pm June 5, 2017.  Send comments to:  jetta.whittaker@alaska.gov   907-465-1605
 

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
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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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