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FROM JUNEAU: Week 13
by Senator Loren Leman
April 06, 2001
AND SENSE: On Thursday night the Senate Finance Committee reported
the Senates versions of the Operating Budget and Mental Health
Budget. We debated 16 amendments offered by the Democrats on the
Senate floor today and will take the final votes on the full bills
on Monday. A conference committee will be appointed to resolve differences
between the Senate and House versions. One of the items in the Senate
version is $12.3 million for Learning Opportunity Grants. These
are targeted grants for schools to improve performance on the high
school competency exam and for textbooks and supplies. Funding for
the University of Alaska was also increased. We also provided funding
for 12 new troopers and Fish & Wildlife officers. Medicaid increases
were driven by formulas in this federal/state matching fund program.
Otherwise, we held the line on spending increases, after accounting
for bonded indebtedness and the increased costs for the State employee
contracts approved last year.
ON THE MOVE: Senate Bill 121, the Right-of-Way Leasing Act revisions
legislation that I sponsored, moved from the Senate Resources Committee
on Tuesday with a Do Pass recommendation from all committee
members present. It is one of several bills the Republican Majority
is working on to help with Alaska gas commercialization. It is scheduled
for a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Monday, April 9.
Bill 133, the High School Competency Exam bill by the Senate HESS
Committee, passed the Senate last week and was considered by the
House Special Committee on Education Thursday. That committee amended
the bill, removing some of the provisions affecting special education
students. It now moves to the House HESS Committee. Differences
in the House and Senate versions will likely be worked out in a
FIRES: You may have read an April 6 article by Martha Bellisle
in the Anchorage Daily News regarding firefighting aircraft. Unfortunately,
she was inaccurate in her reporting. What is true is that I am very
concerned about the fire danger expected on the Kenai Peninsula
and south Anchorage Hillside this summer. Being able to respond
quickly to a fire outbreak is paramount to defend life and property.
I have suggested some possibilities to the Department of Natural
Resources. If you would like to see my response to the ADN article,
VISITORS: On Wednesday I was very pleased when my wife Carolyn
and daughter Nicole appeared in the visitors gallery during the
Senate session. Carolyn had decided to pay a surprise visit from
Anchorageand surprised I was. It brightened my time in Juneau.
Also visiting on Wednesday and Thursday were Melinda Dewey, her
son Roger and granddaughter Virginia (see picture). Virginia attends
Turnagain School with Nicole. Last year Melinda lost her husband
Dean, a family friend, in a fishing accident near Cordova, and after
I introduced the family on the Senate Floor they were present for
the approval of a citation honoring his memory.
NINILCHIK GIRLS: Last weekend the Ninilchik Wolverine girls
won the State championship in 2A basketball, their fourth championship
in the last six years. I am particularly fond of this community
where I was raisedand commend the team and their fine coach,
Dan Leman, my cousin.
If you know of
other Alaskans who would like to receive my weekly report by email,
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