The Senate Republicans met several times this week to continue working on our priorities, including the next phase of our fiscal plan. After more work on the details I will provide this outline to you. In anticipation of budget reductions to keep costs down, this week we asked commissioners to work constructively with us by providing a budget priority list for their department. Our goal is a State government that spends less money more effectively.
AN INVESTMENT IN OUR FUTURE:
On Wednesday the Senate passed House Bill 334, appropriating $1 million to the non-profit organization Arctic Power for continuing work to persuade the U.S. Senate to open the ANWR coastal plain for exploration. An additional $100,000 will go to Kaktovik to assist with their influx of visitors, government officials and reporters. Opening ANWR and commercializing Alaska’s natural gas are two important elements of a fiscal plan for our State.
STATE OF THE UNION:
On Tuesday President Bush addressed the nation (and the watching world). I applaud his continued commitment to protecting our country and providing for our military. He also expressed his commitment to reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. Part of his energy plan includes development of the ANWR coastal plain.
My SB 209, Extension of Railroad Lease Terms, moved from the Senate Transportation Committee Thursday. This bill will help cultivate economic development in communities along the Railbelt by allowing extension of lease terms from 35 to 55 years, enabling long-term financing for major projects. I also introduced two new bills: SB 258 authorizes electronic ballots in State elections and will help visually impaired people vote privately and securely; SB 263 clarifies property law and helps ANCSA shareholders who are deeded land from village corporations to be able to build on their property. To track legislation go to www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/
I’ll appear on a Capitol Focus program on Alaska’s Superstation Sunday at 5 pm to discuss crises in Alaska’s fisheries. The show will air on Channel 2 in Fairbanks, Ch. 8 in Juneau and Ch. 13 in Anchorage.
On Saturday I’ll be at the King Career Center in Anchorage to participate in the Career and Technology Conference sponsored by the Anchorage School District. I serve on the ASD Career and Technology Advisory Council and am particularly interested in preparing Alaska’s students for the Alaska job market.
Last week I noted the arrival of the Olympic flame in Juneau and said this was the first time the Olympic flame had come to Alaska. This is true for the IOC-sponsored Summer and Winter Olympics—but my wife, Carolyn, reminded me that last March the Special Olympics flame came to Anchorage. We were happy to participate in that splendid event.
If you know of other Alaskans who would like to receive my weekly report by email, please contact me at Senator_Loren_Leman@legis.state.ak.us or 465-2095.