There are two resolutions under consideration in the legislature as the House and Senate wend their way toward what will be a messy and confused terminus of the regular session. The likely special session will focus on the Permanent Fund Dividend and federal American Rescue Plan funds. The resolutions are SJR 13 and HJR 19. Both are designed to clarify to the federal government that Alaska supports federal investment in Broadband (SJR 13) and federal investment in Infrastructure writ large (HJR 19).
It is critical that both these resolutions make it out of the legislature and onto the desks of our congressional delegation this spring. Congress will be debating the American Jobs Plan this summer, President Biden's ambitious infrastructure upgrade and jobs proposal. There is a lot in the proposal for Alaska. Our Congressional delegation must seize this opportunity instead of bellyaching about the deficit spending pattern they helped create by passing Trump's reckless 2017 tax cut. Senator Dan Sullivan is probably a lost cause, as he has skipped too far down the partisan rabbit trail. Senator Lisa Murkowski will likely fight hard behind the scenes to secure everything possible for Alaska, minding the fact that Alaska's infrastructure is a shameful C- from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The items proposed in the President's plan are meat and potatoes issues for Alaska - Rural Broadband, drinking water infrastructure upgrades, weatherization assistance, improving veterans health care facilities. For context, the amount proposed nationwide on infrastructure upgrades- two Trillion dollars over ten years - is a pittance compared to what congress routinely authorizes for the military - the estimate for this year alone is that we will spend $934 Billion. The Alaska economy benefits from Defence Department budgets--the same should hold true for a reasonable ten-year plan to increase infrastructure spending.
Time is short in this session, and the need for Senator Murkowski to hear from the legislature is great. SJR 13 is up in the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee on May 13 at 8:00 a.m. and open for public testimony. This resolution should be amended to include statements of support for other items in the American Jobs Plan like road and bridge infrastructure upgrades and veterans healthcare facility upgrades. SJR 13 is farther along in the process and is the one more likely to pass. Plan to testify and make your support for the President's infrastructure plan known.
PS. Don’t miss the next Meeting of the Alaska Electric Vehicle Working Group on May 11 from 10 a.m. to Noon. Representative Calvin Schrage, Chair of the House Energy Committee, will open the meeting with an Electric Vehicle (EV) Legislative Outlook from Juneau. Kristy Hartman, the Energy Program Director for the National Conference of State Legislatures, will offer a presentation on the State Legislative Role in Electrifying the Transportation Sector. There will be discussion on topics that include EV regulatory reform, Volkswagen and State Energy Program funding of EV charging stations, and Department of Energy funding opportunities. Please see the full agenda here.
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