From Senator Jesse Kiehl <[email protected]>
Subject Welcome to the Real Deal With Kiehl!
Date October 7, 2023 12:00 AM
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Fun and Games Fun and Games October 6, 2023 Dear Friends and Neighbors, With elections in every organized city in our district, this was a big week for local government. I want to thank the many people who threw their hats in the ring to serve us on assemblies, councils, and school boards. It's also been a big week for the federal government. I'm glad we're out of shutdown risk for a while, but the U.S. House of Representatives doesn't have a Speaker. May I recommend a bipartisan majority coalition? It's working well here in the Alaska Senate... Read on for risk in regulations, monopoly problems, and a visit to Rhode Island to get a clue on taxes. This summer, I joined Bea Lingle's family and about 90 Skagwegians remembering and celebrating her life. It was a privilege to present a Legislative citation remembering someone as wonderful as Bea. We will miss her. Monopoly I joined a little more than 1/3 of the legislature this week urging the Federal Trade Commission not to approve the merger of Albertsons and Kroger in Alaska. The FTC’s job is to enforce America's antitrust laws, preventing monopolies. Unifying the two biggest grocery chains in Alaska would create one in a whole bunch of places around the state. This proposed monopoly is especially troubling because it’s about essential goods. We get our groceries and our medications from supermarkets. Alaska's food security concerns would get significantly worse. It also goes without saying we don’t need higher food costs in Alaska. But a lack of competition leads straight down that road. What happens next? If the FTC decides the merger breaches federal anti-monopoly laws, the case will likely go to federal courts. And the two companies seem to expect that without at least some other competitor, they'll lose. That seems to be why they're trying to sell off some stores—including 14 in Alaska—to a third company in advance. Tactics like that in the past have led to the small buyers going bankrupt and selling the stores back to the big (now) monopoly. So I hope the FTC just says no. Rep. Hannan, Rep. Story, and I got to honor Wayne Stevens for his years of community service to Juneau and Alaska. His retirement leaves big shoes to fill! Risk The Alaska State Medical Board is thinking about putting some new regulations on Physician Assistants. I wrote them this week and asked them to scrub back in and start the whole operation over. PAs are one of a few provider types who have the most advanced health care training you can get short of medical school. So they play a vital role in Alaska, often serving as a small community's most advanced—or only practitioner. Naturally, the board wants to make sure they're well trained and provide safe, appropriate care. But these new rules would go too far. The board would require new PAs to spend significant time training in Anchorage before they could practice anywhere else. Supervised training is good, but it can certainly happen in Alaska's other big hub communities. There are longstanding regs that require each PA to work with a collaborating physician. That makes sense. But the new rules would make it harder for PAs to find one. In part, they'd do that by requiring the doc to spend a certain number of hours with patients every year. That's weird, because there's no rule requiring physicians to see a minimum number of patients to practice medicine themselves. So why is it necessary in order to safely collaborate with a PA? The rules would also limit the work a PA can do to the specialty of their collaborating physician. That sounds good at first blush. We probably don't want a PA who works with a podiatrist working in the OR for a cardiothoracic surgery. But it's way too broad. In towns with no doctor, PAs do everything from family practice to emergency medicine. This part of the proposal needs to be reworked—this time with a scalpel, not an ortho heavy mallet. And for PAs who do specialty care (like oncology,) the proposal would make it impossible to work in a city where there's only one doc with that same specialty. Alaska's hub communities often have a hard time attracting any specialists at all, much less a pair of them. We won't be better off by regulating away PAs in those fields. The bottom line is: Alaskans need more access to care, not less. I wrote to the Medical Board asking them to reconsider after they hold some listening sessions in communities around the state. They need to do a better job finding a balance between ensuring our medical professionals are well trained, and eliminating a large number of Alaskans' access to care in the first place. Sitting with Sens. Claman, Stedman, Hoffman, & Bishop during the joint session on confirmations last spring. Non-Trivial Pursuits In June I went to a task force meeting. I serve on a couple. This one is part of the National Conference of State Legislatures, and it’s about state and local taxation. It’s a multi-partisan group of legislators, along with a good fistful of corporate tax lawyers and retired tax collectors. Put us all together, and it’s a reasonably well balanced group looking for best practices to recommend to our colleagues. Some of the things we talked about were fascinating. How long should a resident of one state be able to work in another before they owe income taxes there? I don’t think I need to file a Rhode Island return for the three days I spent at the conference. But if a person rents an apartment and works there remotely for five months, they surely should contribute something. So where’s the line? Another key topic was where and how to tax an internet-based company that makes its money putting buyers and sellers together (think Uber, Turo, or AirBnB) on the money it makes in each state? Other stuff was dull enough to stun a yak. I’ll be honest: I still haven’t finished the 32-page paper on property taxation of telecom providers. I promise I’ll pick it up again soon. Very soon. Luckily, the discussions are intriguing, no matter the subject. Most of the folks there are old hands at this stuff, so any attempt to get special sweetheart treatment into a task force recommendation would get laughed out of the room pretty quickly. Conversations end up being about what’s fair to both taxpayers (who generally want to keep their cash,) and governments (which need to fund public services.) Unfortunately, with the task force focused on issues facing as many states as possible, they’re unlikely to take up oil taxes any time soon. But I’ll keep you posted. All my best, Did someone forward you this newsletter and now you want your very own copy? Did you fall into it through the series of tubes but now you want it sent straight to you? SUBSCRIBE Events & Happenings Around District B Haines Gold Fever Festival Join the Lynn Canal Community Players for this celebration of the 125th anniversary of Gold Fever in Haines Oct. 6 & 7. Haines Backcountry Games On Oct. 8, competitors of all ages can join the fun at the fair grounds! Haines Watercolor Come to the library Oct. 11 for after school watercolor painting! Haines Puzzles Come play with locally-made wooden puzzles Oct. 13 at the library. Skagway Create a Creature On Oct. 21 & 22, bring the kids to the library to make their own stuffie! Skagway Fall Festival It’s October so get ready for Skagway's fall festival from Oct. 20-22! Skagway Bea Lingle Celebrative Bar Tour It was my honor to present a citation honoring Bea Lingle's wonderful life earlier this summer. Celebrate her legacy Oct. 20 with the first annual bar tour in her honor. Skagway Late Night Library What to do on a Friday night? If you’re 10-18, check out the fun at late night library (no boring adults allowed.) Gustavus Harvest Fest This Sunday, head to the Harvest Fest for loaded baked potatoes, harvest baskets, and more! Gustavus Board Games Come learn new games and play with friends at the Community Center Nov. 4. Juneau Filipino American History Month Celebration There will be food, dancing, drumming, and more at the Filipino Community Hall this Saturday for the first Filipino American History Month celebration since FAHM became state law this year! Juneau Free Family Concert The whole family will have fun at the Mendenhall Valley Library on Saturday with this free concert! Juneau Friends of the SLAM Gala Enjoy a fun evening and support a good cause at the Friends of the State Library, Archives, and Museum Gala Oct. 14. Juneau Weaving Our Pride This mentor-youth community weaving project is going every Wednesday to Saturday at the Zach Gordon Youth Center. Is there an event in our district I should know about? Please call or email! Want to Send Snail Mail? Alaska State Capitol Room 514 Juneau, AK 99801 You Can Call: 800 550 4947 907 465 4947 Or Email Me! ‌ ‌ ‌ Contact My Staff, the people who power the work: Aurora Hauke 907 465 5051 [email protected] Ella Adkison 907 465 6419 [email protected] Cathy Schlingheyde 907 465 6827 [email protected] Senator Jesse Kiehl | Alaska State Capitol, Rm. 419, 4th Avenue & Main Street, Juneau, AK 99801 Unsubscribe [email protected] Constant Contact Data Notice Sent by [email protected]
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