From Sen. Donny Olson <[email protected]>
Subject ULU News - Senator Olson's Legislative Update
Date February 5, 2020 10:25 PM
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Senator [mailto:[email protected]]
Donald Olson [mailto:[email protected]]
Senate Finance Committee
Denise Liccioli
Elizabeth Rexford
Seth Beaver
Contact Information:
Toll Free Year Round:
Session: Jan.-April:
State Capitol [[link removed]]
Room 51 [[link removed]]4
Juneau, AK 99801 [[link removed]]
(907) 465-3707
WWW.LEGIS.STATE.AK.US [[link removed]]
GAVELALASKA.ORG [[link removed]]
Senator Dan Sullivan
Anchorage Office:
Congressman Don Young
Anchorage Office:
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Anchorage Office:
Office of the Governor
Anchorage Office:

31st Alaska Legislature

February 5, 2020

Start of a New Session
I started the new year in Golovin with my wife and 6 children. We are thankful for
all that 2019 brought us, the growth of our kids, and another year to serve our
people. With the beginning of the second session of the 31st Legislature, 2020 has
started with continued discussions on balancing the State budget. I look forward
to working with my colleagues to shape the state of Alaska for the better.

I am pleased to introduce our staff for this year from L to R: Denise Liccioli,
my Finance aide and Chief of Staff, has been working in my office for over a decade;
Elizabeth Rexford, whose family is from Barrow and Fairbanks and is excited to be
back in the capitol for her third session and working for her region; and Seth Beaver,
whose family is from Kotzebue and excited to serve his region during his first legislative
The Senate Finance committee began meeting daily the first full day of session,
so we are off to a running start. We started with a series of meetings to brief
us on the expected revenue, our savings accounts, the permanent fund, and a high
level look at the anticipated expenditures. The Governor's budget request leaves
a $1.5 Billion deficit, with no plan for how to fill it other than to pretty much
completely drain the State's savings accounts. That is unacceptable. As our Governor,
he should be leading with ideas on how to address the deficit. The legislature is
unlikely to go along with depleting our savings in order to balance this budget.
There needs to be talk about new revenues and revising oil tax credits, as well
as looking for places where spending can be cut or reduced. The Governor also released
his supplemental budget on the 15th day as required and we heard it in Finance soon
after. The largest funding included in the supplemental is for Medicaid and fire
disasters, among the other items in the bill.
This year, I will be chairing two subcommittees: the Department of Law and the Department
of Public Safety. The Department of Law has reopened their office in Utqiagvik and
their budget request asks for the additional amount needed to have it fully operational.
The Public Safety budget request is for a lot of additional money for Troopers,
but nothing additional for VPSOs. We will hold our first subcommittee meetings next
week for both subcommittees, to begin the process of reviewing those budgets in
detail. I fully and enthusiastically support VPSOs and I support the recommendations
of the VPSO working group, which included a recommendation for additional funding
for VPSOs in their report.

Capital Budget - CAPSIS
CAPSIS is the system used for the capital budget. It is currently open to communities
to input their requests. CAPSIS will close to communities on February 14th, so if
you have any requests, they must be input by then. The capital budget is expected
to be bare bones again this year, and to mostly contain matches for federal projects.
Unfortunately, there will not be an opportunity for legislators to add any discretionary
funds for our communities. If you need help, or have any questions, contact Denise
in my office.
The deadline by which you need a REAL ID-compliant form of identification in order
to get through TSA and fly is October 1, 2020. Alaska has pushed back deadlines
to produce REAL ID cards, but now the final deadline is approaching. There are
15 forms of ID that are acceptable for purposes of clearing TSA for flying. A few
of those are: Passport, Passport card, and a Tribal ID; as well as a REAL ID. If
you already have a passport, passport card or a Tribal ID with a picture, then
you do not need to get a REAL ID in order to travel by air come October 1. However,
if you do not have one of those, then I highly suggest updating your State ID and
driver license when the next opportunity arises, to avoid disruption in airline
travel. For more information on flying with a REAL ID, please visit [link removed]
[[link removed]].
For more information on the process and the documentation required to apply for
a new or renewed ID, please
visit [link removed] [[link removed]].
VPSO Working Group
On May 9th, 2019, Senate President Cathy Giessel and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon
announced the creation of a Joint House/Senate Working Group to provide substantive
policy recommendations related to the VPSO program. Appointed to the working group
were: Senator Donny Olson, Co-Chair; Representative Chuck Kopp, Co-Chair; Senator
Click Bishop; Senator Mike Shower; Representative Bryce Edgmon; and Representative
George Rauscher. The working group was assigned to coordinate with stakeholders
to examine the underlying causes of the recruitment and retention obstacle and
provide proposals to turn around the epidemic rate of personnel turnover within
the VPSO program. The working group has since held meetings, attended community
meetings, participated in listening sessions, and worked with stakeholders to arrive
at the proposals outlined in the recommendations report. The proposals are the first
step needed to address the core problem of increasing the number of VPSO's available
to communities. This report further addresses other fundamental issues such as:
inequity in pay, lack of housing, officer safety, low morale, the inability to generate
more interest from applicants in rural Alaska, and the role of Alaska Native Tribes
in reaching solutions. I, along with the members of the working group and many VPSO
grantees, all have consensus that the program is not broken but has been distressed.
Among recommending statutory improvements for improving deficiencies found in highlighting
the mission, vision and statutory law enforcement duties for the program and VPSO
personnel; the working group's report includes 8 additional recommendations such
as including specific authority for streamlining funding disbursements, restoring
VPSO funding levels to FY18 levels and mandating that the grant awards pay grantee
organizations their full indirect costs. To view the full working group's report,
please visit
[link removed] [[link removed]].
If the proposals are implemented they will begin the process of strengthening the
VPSO program for better public safety in rural Alaska. More work will be needed
and it is my hope that the VPSO working group can continue its work, and build
upon these first steps.
Permanent Fund Working Group Report Available
On June 10, 2019, the 31st Alaska State Legislature created the Bicameral Permanent
Fund Working Group while the legislature was still working on the Fiscal Year 2020
budget. The Permanent Fund working group was comprised of eight legislators - four
from the Senate, four from the House - to review the use of Alaska Permanent Fund
earnings and make recommendations on how to use these funds in the future. The lawmakers
came from across the state, from both major parties, and includes members from House
and Senate majorities and minorities. They were: myself, Sen. Donny Olson, D-Golovin;
Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, Co-Chair; Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage, Co-Chair;
Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer; Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka; Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins,
D-Sitka; Rep. Kelly Merrick, R-Eagle River; and Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks.
The Permanent Fund Working Group's report is now publicly available, which includes
synopses of the six hearings hosted in 2019, and the appendix includes the minutes
of each hearing. Three working team assignments were created to explore three scenarios
of PFD Amounts: Statutory PFD (Statutory Net Income), $1600 PFD (Fixed amount) and
Surplus/net-dividend (POMV).
Within the report, you can find detailed explanations of how the three scenarios
covered by the working group members can affect future PFD amounts. The working
group's report can be found at [link removed]
[[link removed]].
I'd like to remind my region that I have always been in favor of the full PFD.
On that note, we'd like to remind our community members that it is now time to submit
your PFD applications! You can file online through your MyAlaska account, and if
you are unable to file online then contact the nearest Distribution Center to start
the process.
Constituent Visitors
Many thanks to those individuals who take the time out of their busy schedules to
come visit my office when they are in Juneau. My decisions are guided by the input
of those I represent. I truly appreciate hearing from constituents over their concerns.

Senator Olson visiting with the Kotzebue Electric Association

Senator Olson visiting with Former Representative Chuck Degnan from Unalakleet.
Thank you for taking the time to read my ULU Newsletter.
Best wishes and be safe,

Senator Donald Olson
Toll free: 1.800.597.3707
Email: [email protected]


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