With Representative David Eastman grabbing headlines as he is prone to through his outrageous, racist, stupid, dull, and performative statements, and with Senator Murkowski offering the sobering reminder that our great state is losing population like a deflating balloon, it is tempting to fall into the trap of the February blahs.
Take heart! The fact that the whole State House unanimously and rapidly condemned Eastman's latest statements on the deaths of violently abused children is a sign that we have not lost our collective sanity. The fact that Education funding is top of mind with many lawmakers is a sign that we have an eye on the state's future. The fact that a multipartisan caucus of first-year lawmakers has formed in the House and a mega-gigantic super bipartisan majority has formed in the Senate is important.
We have seen food security, bycatch reduction, and renewable energy become more than just vague talking points on the lips of our politicians over the past few years. We have seen our federal delegation come together to support broad infrastructure legislation. We have a new marine highway vessel in the works. The Pebble Mine has been set back significantly by the Environmental Protection Agency. Juneteenth and Indigenous Peoples Day have just been added as Anchorage Municipal holidays. Things are looking up (perhaps we caught the eddy in the metaphorical climate change river rushing towards floods, searing heat waves, drought, pestilence, and swarms of insects). Now is not the time to give up.
In the immortal lines of poet Robert Service, "You're sick of the game!" Well, now, that's a shame. You're young, and you're brave, and you're bright. "You've had a raw deal!" I know — but don't squeal, Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight. It's the plugging away that will win you the day, So don't be a piker, old pard! Just draw on your grit; it's so easy to quit: It's the keeping-your-chin-up that's hard.
We will be back in Juneau next week, meeting with lawmakers on our priority Democracy legislation. The specific bills we are supporting are SB 19 and HB 37, which would require the Alaska Division of Elections would to provide stamped return envelopes for absentee ballots, automatically check voters' signatures, allow voters to fix their absentee ballot signature if there's a problem, and create a ballot-tracking system viewable by the public. While the effort to repeal our Ranked Choice Voting/Open Primary law will go nowhere in the legislature (but will be a significant fight as a ballot proposition), bills to protect voters' rights are in the hopper. These must move forward to ensure that all votes, and all voices, are heard in these critical elections that will help rebuild our state.
We will also circle back with lawmakers on our priority clean energy legislation: extension of the Renewable Energy Fund, creation of a Community Solar law, a Renewable Portfolio Standard, and a Green Bank for Alaska. The passage of these bills will help us create the Alaska we want to see for our children and grandchildren.
Thank you for your support,
The Alaska Center
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