Hundreds turned out for the ferry rally this afternoon.
— Mollie Barnes
Congressman Don Young has been spotted in town. Tonight he’s holding a Meet & Greet at the Juneau Yacht Club. Details can be found on the Facebook event page.
— Mollie Barnes
Ten students participating in the Senator Ted Stevens Legislative Internship program will be recognized Friday by University of Alaska and enjoy some coffee too.
From 11 a.m. to noon, the university will host a coffee social at the Alaska State Capitol for legislators and students, who have worked as interns during this legislative session.
The students include students from all three University of Alaska campuses — University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Southeast and University of Alaska Fairbanks — and from every region of the state.
They include Nicole Bearden, UAS; Miranda Dordan, UAA; Erik Gunderson, UAA; Jayden Hodgson, UAA; Erin Laughlin, UAS; Radames Mercado-Barbosa, UAA; Shiela Morrison, UAA; Robin O’Donoghue, UAA; Stuart Relay, UAF; and Marc Robertson, UAA.
— Ben Hohenstatt
Here’s what some are saying on Twitter about Alaska Legislature. #AKLeg
— Chris Dimond (@dimond_chris) March 19, 2019
— AK Senate Democrats (@AKSenateDems) March 19, 2019
— University of Alaska (@UA_System) March 20, 2019
Today the House DOA Subcommittee voted to reject the Gov’s elimination of @alaskapublic funding. We voted on four budget items, and I was happy to see support for public radio, public TV, and emergency alerts: Votes ranged from 8-0 to 6-2 in favor of public media programs. #akleg pic.twitter.com/94lkBMw0f2
— Representative Zack Fields (@repzackfields) March 19, 2019
— AK House Republicans (@AKHouseRepubs) March 20, 2019
Sen. David Wilson's bill would give Alaskans the option of donating all or a portion of their PFDs directly to the general fund: "SB 92 is about the freedom to make your own decision" https://t.co/EoeZCkyHHT #akleg #akgov pic.twitter.com/HcWAFjd80J
— AlaskaSenateMajority (@AKSenMajority) March 19, 2019
— Mollie Barnes
Most of the events on the fiscal policy tour announced this week by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office are being hosted by a conservative political organization, prompting blowback.
Dunleavy’s office on Monday announced five public events around Alaska next week, plus a planned appearance on a statewide radio program and a Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce event.
The five events listed as public are being hosted by Americans for Prosperity, which online describes the events as private and lays out terms by which attendees must abide. The release from Dunleavy’s office did not mention the affiliation.
Ryan McKee, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Alaska, said he understands why there might be confusion. He said the group is renting the space and has the right to remove anyone who is disruptive and make sure the venues aren’t over capacity.
But he said Tuesday that the event is open to all on a first come, first served basis. He recommends people register in advance. Details on registration weren’t mentioned by Dunleavy’s office until Tuesday, after questions about the event were raised.
“We would love opposing viewpoints. We’d love questions,” McKee said. “We really want this to be a discussion.”
Senate Democratic Leader Tom Begich said Dunleavy is obligated to promote “open and transparent public forums” and should cancel the Americans for Prosperity-hosted events.
McKee said there are advantages to the group hosting.
“I don’t think it would have been proper for the governor, in a recession, when he is cutting a lot of things, I don’t think him spending a bunch of money on a tour would have probably been the best move,” McKee said, adding later that the group is not paying for anyone outside its own staff to attend.
He said he hopes other groups host similar events to help further the policy discussion.
Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow said by email that Dunleavy is planning events or meetings working with various interested parties.
He said Dunleavy’s office worked with Americans for Prosperity-Alaska and the Alaska Policy Forum to help host and organize the public forums.
Panelists for the events, as described by Americans for Prosperity-Alaska, include Dunleavy and other state officials, a regional director of the group and the executive director of the Alaska Policy Forum, whose self-described mission is to promote policies “that grow freedom for all.”
McKee said the idea of having forums where people could ask questions of those involved in crafting Dunleavy’s budget was pitched to the governor’s office.
Jeremy Price, a former Americans for Prosperity-Alaska state director, is a deputy chief of staff to Dunleavy. McKee, who was announced as Price’s replacement earlier this month, said he worked with Dunleavy communications director Mary Ann Pruitt on the meetings idea. He said he hasn’t spoken with Price since becoming state director about these events.
The state faces a projected $1.6 billion budget, and Dunleavy has faced pushback for a budget proposal that includes sweeping cuts to education, the university system, health and social service programs and Alaska’s ferry system, and tax collection shifts that would benefit the state but cost some local governments. Legislators so far have shown little interest in his proposals to change the collection of certain taxes related to fisheries and petroleum property.
He also has proposed constitutional amendments on taxes, spending and the annual check Alaskans receive from the state’s oil-wealth fund, the Alaska Permanent Fund.
Dunleavy wants to give voters a say on new or higher taxes and replace an existing spending limit some see as too lax. The dividend measure is aimed at ensuring the dividend program is not changed without a vote of the people.
McKee said his group supports the proposed constitutional amendments dealing with taxes and spending. It has not taken a position on the dividend piece, he said.
— The Associated Press
Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced that he will be hosting a series of town halls across the state to discuss his budget proposal. He later drew fire from critics after it was unveiled that Americans for Prosperity, an organization funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, would be hosting the town halls, and regulating who receives tickets.
Vince Beltrami, the president of the Alaska AFL-CIO responded on Twitter saying, “It’s clear he’s on the side of corporate America. He’s inviting them in to profitize Alaska while our economy goes down the toilet and we lose 15,000 to 20,000 jobs. In the meantime the governor’s at private events, while he drops this terrible budget that does away with everything important to Alaskans, drops it on the legislature to deal with, make them take the heat. And then he takes off to these private events. Come on governor, this isn’t what Alaska’s all about.”
— Alaska AFL-CIO (@AKAFLCIO) March 20, 2019
— Mollie Barnes
Senate Finance is meeting this morning. They just moved Senate Bill 41 out of the committee. It was an act relating to the number of Superior Court judges. It’s a bill to add two judges to the court, which would be effective on July 1.
Now they are discussing Senate Bill 54, which is an act approving the transfer of certain Alaska Railroad Corporation land.
Later today, at noon in front of the Capitol people plan to hold a Rally for the Alaska Marine Highway System. According to the Facebook event, there will be burgers, hot dogs and civic engagement.
— Mollie Barnes