Leg with Louie: Live in Juneau!

Hello Friends!

Juneau is the very best location for the Alaska State Capitol. It rains here all day and all night and all day and all night – completely taking away the guilt one might feel about spending an entire day inside of a building, instead of say, outside of a building – walking, running, skiing, bungee jumping, or merely frolicking. The weather is perfect for the start of the Alaska legislature.

The People’s House remains in a brawling state of disorganization right now – though I am told that negotiations are a constant. Perhaps an egalitarian and practical Committee of the Whole will emerge where both parties share power equally?  

Senate Finance Committee is running the show in the Legislature right now, which provides some reassurance. The deliberations over the Dunleavy Budget – projected to make landfall in mid-February – will be led by the capable Senator Stedman – with his cookie duster mustache and no BS demeanor.  The composition of the Senate Finance Committee (including Co-Chair Natasha Von Imhof, Senator Bill Wielechowski, Senator Click Bishop, Senator Lyman Hoffman, Senator Donny Olson and others) seems pragmatic, regionally representative, and a bulwark against the uncertainty inherent to a $1.6 Billion budget deficit.

Unlike other years, the confirmation hearing (job interview) process for appointed commissioners is happening very early in the session, pushed no doubt by the Dunleavy Administration to wrap before the budget discussions consume the building. There may be some value in proceeding deliberately with these confirmation hearings. The proposed Commissioner of the Department of Administration was interviewed by the Senate Finance Committee where he provided a false accounting of his employment history and subsequently withdrew his name for consideration.

The Senate Resources Committee took up the appointment of Jason Brune on Friday afternoon.  Mr. Brune was selected by Governor Dunleavy to serve as the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. This appointment has the potential to impact Pebble Mine. Mr. Brune worked diligently to move Pebble forward while employed by the global mining firm Anglo American, a former chief investor to the Pebble Project.  If confirmed by the Legislature, Mr. Brune will be in a position as DEC Commissioner to approve critical state water quality and air quality permits the mine will need. We and other critics of the appointment are concerned about Mr. Brune’s objectivity in such matters.  

Of additional note - Mr. Brune provided a very political non-answer to the committee when asked if he personally believes that climate change is caused by human activity. His response should give us all some pause: It was essentially that his personal opinion does not matter, since he works for Governor Dunleavy and will be working on the Governor's agenda - which does not include climate change as evidenced by the scrubbing of the Climate Action Leadership Team report from the official website. Once the House organizes there will additional opportunity for legislators on the House Resources committee to ask specific questions of Mr. Brune about his approach or non-approach to climate change.

We expect that all of our elected leaders will act in the best interest of Alaskans.  Should they decide otherwise, know that we are working to ensure the Administration hears Alaskans' voices loud and clear. Make sure you are heard>>

Whether the game is fixed, or not, it pays to keep your eyes wide open as this session unfolds. Keep making contact with your Legislators, alert them to your concerns, ask their positions on critical matters, argue with them and look for that precious bit of common ground. They work for Alaska, and you are part of it.

Over and Out, Brother Truckers!
Louie Flora
Government Affairs Director

Hearings of Note this Week:

Monday, January 28 – 3:30 p.m.
Senate Resources Committee

Confirmation hearing for Doug Vincent-Lang – Commissioner, Department of Fish and Game

Tuesday, January 29 – 12:00 p.m
Lunch and Learn
General Overview of the Seafood Processing Industry by Nicole Kimball, Director of Pacific Seafood Processors Association

Tuesday, January 29 – 1:30 p.m.
Senate Transportation Committee 

Consideration of Governor’s Appointees: Commissioner – Designee, Department of Transportation – John Mackinnon

Thursday, January 31 – 9:00 a.m.
Senate Finance Committee 
Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority overview

Thursday, January 31 – 1:30 p.m.
Senate Labor and Commerce Committee
Presentation: Opportunities for Innovation in Alaska – Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER)

Thursday, January 31 – 1:30 p.m.
Senate Transportation Committee
Overview: Glenn Highway Integrated Corridor Management Study

Friday, February 1 – 9:00 a.m.
Senate Finance Committee
Presentation: Indirect Expenditures by Legislative Finance Division and Department of Revenue

Friday, February 1 – 3:30 p.m.
Senate Resources Committee
Overview: Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission


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