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REPORT FROM JUNEAU: WEEK 4

Senator Loren Leman
Anchorage, AK
February 8, 2002

SPENDING CAP ADVANCES:

This week Senate President Rick Halford confirmed our caucus approach that spending reductions and controls should be in place before substantial new taxes are implemented. An important component of spending controls is Senate Joint Resolution 23, a constitutional amendment that will limit future spending growth. SJR 23 passed the Senate last year, and on Wednesday it moved from the House Judiciary Committee and is now in House Finance.

SCHOOL DAYS:

The vitality of Alaska schools is very important to me and I have been visiting with delegations of students, parents, teachers and administrators. The Galena School District’s Interior Distance Education of Alaska (IDEA) program held a town meeting in Juneau this week that I attended. IDEA has worked to support parents who teach their children at home and I applaud their efforts to provide quality education. The Department of Education and Early Development has proposed new regulations for statewide correspondence schools. Some of the new regulations are good, but others are troubling. I am encouraging the Department to make changes. The regulations can be viewed and commented on at www.eed.state.ak.us.

GENERALLY SPEAKING:

Tuesday Air Force Lt. Gen. Norty Schwartz, the Commander of the Alaska Command, and Army Maj. Gen. Willie Nance, program executive officer for the National Missile Defense (NMD) program, visited us. During their update on military activities in Alaska they discussed the important role of our State in U.S. military strategy, which will increasingly emphasize quick response by light, highly mobile forces. Gen. Nance talked about the impact of NMD on the Delta Junction area, the jobs that will be created and how using Alaska contractors is a priority.

BILLS ON THE MOVE:

My Senate Bill 153, which transforms the Underground Storage Tank grant program to a loan program, moved from Senate Finance with unanimous “Do pass” recommendations on Wednesday. The bill continues the restructuring of the program so that “Mom and Pop” operations will be able to borrow at competitive rates to clean up old fuel storage sites. Also on Wednesday I introduced SB 281, which prohibits employment of people with serious criminal convictions at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

CAPITOL VISITORS:

In addition to visitors already noted I enjoyed meeting a student delegation from Wrangell High School; Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Gabrielle LeDoux; Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Rhonda Boyles; and Miss Erin White’s 4th grade class from Juneau Christian School.


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.

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