Hannan talks next steps with constituents

Hannan talks next steps with constituents

Juneau Representative meets with voters at Douglas Library for a town hall meeting

Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, met with constituents at the Douglas Public Library Monday evening to discuss what happens now that Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s cut to the state budget have been allowed to stand.

The representative’s message was both big and small picture, talking about what’s going to happen the next couple of days, and larger changes to the state that could be enacted to potentially avoid such contentious political fights in the future.

“We don’t have a fiscal problem,” Hannan told the roughly 30 people gathered at the library, “we have a revenue problem.”

Hannan said that the state’s funds have been too tied to oil for too long, and that when the price of oil fell several years ago, the state’s revenue fell too.

It was time, she said, that the state start looking at other sources of revenue. She said that she had proposed a tax on nicotine vaping products, but that had failed to make it out of committee.

“You don’t know how many lobbyists there are,” Hannan said, “until you introduce a bill to tax vaping.” She said that cannabis vaping products are taxed along with all other marijuana products, but not so with nicotine products like Juul electronic cigarettes. She told the crowd that Juul had sent a representative from San Francisco to urge her to reconsider.

Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, meets with constituents at the Douglas Library, Monday evening to talk about the state budget and what happens next. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, meets with constituents at the Douglas Library, Monday evening to talk about the state budget and what happens next. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

She said that there hadn’t been any serious talk about new taxes in the legislature for several years, but in light of recent budget shortfalls, people were starting to come around.

“I think there’s a critical mass of people in this state that are willing to talk about oil and gas tax reform,” she said.

In addition to reconsidering the tax credits given to oil companies, there were a number of small taxes that could be enacted, which taken together, could produce significant income and make a dent in the state’s budget deficit.

“We don’t have a lot of state taxes unless you’re industry,” she said. She also said she was in favor of a progressive income tax. “I think it taps into our migratory, seasonal workers. Many of those people make their living in Alaska but they’re not paying Alaska,” she said.

One member of the audience asked if there was a way that the University of Alaska could be made more efficient in order to bring costs down.

“(The) Board of Regents is set up to make those decisions,” Hannan said. “I don’t want to micromanage the regents but I think the administration has made it clear that cuts need to be made.”

She referenced the Board of Regents meeting that took place earlier Monday, but was not aware of what transpired there.

The talk turned to House Bill 2001, currently in the House Finance Committee and under deliberation all week. The bill could potentially restore some of the funding cut by Dunleavy’s vetoes, but that bill too, is subject to veto.

The difference with HB 2001 is that it is the bill needed to appropriate funds for the Permanent Fund Dividend, a priority for both Dunleavy and his supporters in the legislature.

Asked whether it would have just been better to have gone to Wasilla, and tried to negotiate with the whole legislature there, Hannan replied that the law which said the governor had the power to set a location for a special session had never been used. Had the majority of the legislature gone to Wasilla it would’ve set a precedent that would make it more difficult to challenge the governor’s power on the matter more difficult.

“The day you go to Wasilla is the day your capital moves,” Hannan said she had heard other legislators say.

Hannan urged constituents not to lose hope, and stressed that options were still available. She expressed optimism that HB 2001 could be passed, but refused to speculate how many legislators would be in Juneau in the coming weeks.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or at psegall@juneauempire.com

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Sept. 25

Here’s what to expect this week.

Police vehicles gather Wednesday evening near Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei, also known as ]]Brotherhood Bridge Trail, while investigating a homicide. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Police: Woman was walking dogs when she was killed

JPD said officers are working “around the clock” on the criminal investigation.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, a Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew-member observes a foreign vessel in the Bering Sea, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter on routine patrol in the Bering Sea came across the guided missile cruiser from the People's Republic of China, officials said Monday, Sept. 26.  (U.S. Coast Guard District 17 via AP)
Patrol spots Chinese, Russian naval ships off Alaska island

This wasn’t the first time Chinese naval ships have sailed near Alaska waters.

An Alaska judge has ruled that a state lawmaker affiliated with the Oath Keepers, Rep. David Eastman, shown in this February 2022 photo, may stay on the general election ballot in November even though he's likely ineligible to hold public office  (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge ordered delaying certifying the result of the race until a trial scheduled for December.

Water rushes down Front Street, just a half block from the Bering Sea, in Nome, Alaska, on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022 as the remnants of Typhoon Merbok moved into the region. It was a massive storm system — big enough to cover the mainland U.S. from the Pacific Ocean to Nebraska and from Canada to Texas. It influenced weather systems as far away as California, where a rare late-summer storm dropped rain on the northern part of the state, offering a measure of relief to wildfire crews but also complicating fire suppression efforts because of mud and loosened earth. (AP Photo / Peggy Fagerstrom)
Repair work begins in some Alaska towns slammed by storm

ANCHORAGE — There’s been significant damage to some roads and homes in… Continue reading

Sniffen indicted on sexual abuse counts

Sniffen will be arraigned Monday.

In this undated file photo the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska is shown. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)
Oil price drop endangers plan to fund Alaska schools a year early

If oil prices fall, amount is automatically reduced to an amount the state can afford. At

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Juneau Police Department announces technology and reporting updates

Emergeny services and direct reporting will not be interrupted

The hoverfly can perceive electrical fields around the edges of the petals, the big white stigma, and the stamens. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Electric flowers and platform plants

You cannot see it, it’s electric.

Most Read