After the intellectual, moral, racial, political, and physical trauma of 2020, this year is starting to look OK, like a new day and not a false dawn. The monumental federal investments proposed by the Biden-Harris Administration in Pittsburgh on Wednesday are smart and just and envision a modern America we might be OK sending our kids off into. The Thrive Agenda, an ambitious proposal to be introduced in Congress this April to activate an economic transformation on principles of justice and racial equity, union jobs and clean energy, would alchemize a fine inheritance for our offspring from our turbulent hour.
Right here at home, there are bills in the Alaska State Legislature that sing in the spirit of the Thrive Agenda. Our esteemed Communications Director Leah Moss has created a most helpful page on The Alaska Center website, which allows users to get a brief understanding of the bills that we are supporting and opposing. Check it out here. (scroll down the page to see the bills)
While both Biden's "Build Back Better" plan and the THRIVE agenda are being proposed at a federal level, there are ample state-level policy opportunities that can help move this kind of work forward. The following bills, if passed, would increase employment, racial equity and justice, clean energy, voting access, and other principles embodied in and supported by the national THRIVE agenda that is rising up to the horizon of these United States in 2021.
SB 17 - A measure by Senator Tom Begich to increase public buildings' energy efficiency would create hundreds of jobs in the clean energy construction field in Alaska. This bill aligns with many key themes or "pillars" of the THRIVE agenda. To wit: Creating good jobs with access to unions; Reinvesting in public institutions that enable workers and communities to THRIVE. SB 17 was heard in Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee and is expected to pass along to Senate Labor and Commerce Committee next week.
HB 123 - State Recognition of Tribes by Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky proposes formally recognizing the Tribes in this State and the first people who have governed themselves for millennia. The federal government has a special and unique relationship with Tribes that the State would formally acknowledge through this bill. This bill aligns with the THRIVE "pillar," which calls for Strengthening and healing the nation-to-nation relationship with sovereign Native Nations. HB 123 passed this week from the House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs and now heads on to the House State Affairs Committee.
SB 69 - A bill being ushered through the legislative process by Senator Josh Revak, which would help decrease obstacles for Independent Power Producers to create renewable energy projects and get clean energy on transmission grids. This bill passed the Senate on March 31 and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Energy Committee on Tuesday, April 6 at 10:15. Who knew even Senator Revak would get in on the THRIVE agenda! This bill fits the Averting climate and environmental catastrophe theme of the proposal. Nice job, Senator!
As we advocate for passing these and other pieces of state-level legislation, it is helpful to know that there is a growing national movement with foundational racial and environmental justice principles also championing what these state bills support.
PS: As the federal level plans to execute the Thrive Agenda continue to unfold, we're learning more each day. By Earth Day (April 22), Biden will be unveiling a new goal to help us step up to meet our Nationally Determined Contributions (AKA--the US's contributions towards the International Paris Climate Accords). Digest what this will mean for Alaska the next day, with The Alaska Center and SEACC: registration here. ,
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