From Senator Josh Revak <[email protected]>
Subject Regular Session Ends & Special Session Begins - Revak Report
Date May 29, 2021 3:05 AM
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Four bills pass the legislature, new hope for the North Slope Willow Project, and the budget...

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May 28, 2021

Revak Report
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The first regular session of the 32nd Legislature ended on May 19th with the passage of the Senate version of the budget and several other bills, including four of mine! The differences between the House and Senate budgets will be resolved in the Conference Committee and then voted on by the full Legislature in the next two weeks.

The governor has called two 30-day special sessions ([link removed]) to discuss several constitutional amendments that he has proposed. The first began on May 20th, and the second is set to begin in early August. I have been closely following progress on the budget and constitutional amendment bills in preparation for when they come to the Senate floor.

This week's newsletter highlights the Senate version of the budget, my bills that are on their way to the governor, and good news about the Willow oil development project on the North Slope.

I want to hear from you! Please feel free to email me (mailto:[email protected]) anytime or call my office at 907-465-3879 (tel:907-465-3879) to share your thoughts, questions, and concerns.

As always, I'm honored to serve you and I hope you have a great week!

Special Session, the Budget, and the PFD
The Legislature headed into an extra inning last week so we could finish the budget and address several of the Governors priorities ([link removed]) . A few factors contributed to the budget being pushed into a separate special session. Primarily, the delay was caused because guidance from the federal Treasury Department on how we can spend American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds did not come out until May 10th. The state will receive more than one billion ARPA dollars to help buttress some of the damage done to our economy by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Permanent Fund Dividend amount was amended on the Senate floor to $2,300. Alaska statute limits the yearly withdrawal from the Permanent Fund earnings to 5% of the 5-year average market value of the Fund (referred to as Percent of Market Value or POMV). A $2,300 PFD amounts to half of that 5% POMV, leaving the other half to cover state expenses. The Governor is currently proposing enshrining this formula in our constitution through HJR 7 ([link removed]) & SJR 6 ([link removed]) , which are making their way through the legislature now.

The Senate version of the budget, as amended, includes a $1.5 billion deficit that would be filled by overdrawing the Fund's earnings. The final dividend amount, possible overdraw amount, and the other differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget are being debated in Conference Committee now. The full House and Senate will then vote on the final budget.

Since oil prices first started declining in FY13, the state has reduced its spending by about 43% (from $7.8 billion in FY13 down to $4.7 billion in this year's budget). However, since FY14, with low oil prices and other reduced revenue, $17 billion has had to be taken from the state's reserve accounts to cover annual budget deficits. We now rely on the permanent fund earnings for over 65% of our state funding for public safety, roads, schools, senior services, and other state expenses.

Now with a federal administration that has dramatically slowed new resource development in Alaska, it is even more critical to be diligent and conservative about what is taken from the Fund. We can plan ahead for future market crashes, low oil prices, and anti-development administrations in Washington by being careful about our decisions today. Overdrawing our permanent fund will reduce its sustainability for future generations.

This graph outlines what our budget would look like going forward with the Governor's proposed constitutional 5% POMV split 50/50 between PFD and state services formula (assuming our permanent fund growth consistently at 6.2% every year). With the current budget and a $2,300 PFD we would have to draw over 7% this year and next year to balance the budget, further reducing the earnings potential of the fund for the future.
Four of My Bills Pass the Legislature!
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I am grateful to report that four of my bills passed the legislature (meaning both the Senate and the House) this year and are on their way to the Governor's desk for his signature!

Senate Bill 69 helps small, private-sector renewable energy producers provide Alaskans with power, at no extra cost to consumers or the state. Even more importantly, by removing redundant regulations, SB 69 promotes energy innovation and investment in Alaska and ensures that Alaskans will have access to more diverse energy sources into the future. SB 69 ([link removed]) passed the legislature 54-1 on May 7, 2021.

Senate Bill 21 does two things: First, it consolidates oversight and licensing of paramedics under one state agency, instead of two. This will reduce duplicative regulation and, after 20 years, paramedics will be united with their other EMS colleagues in the Department of Health and Social Services. Second, SB 21 vastly improves temporary licensing laws for active-duty military members and their spouses. Now, instead of waiting up to a year to begin working after moving to Alaska, qualified military spouses will be able to receive a temporary courtesy license within 30 days of completing their application. SB 21 ([link removed]) passed the legislature unanimously on May 14, 2021.

Senate Bill 22 directly supports rural and urban subsistence hunters in Alaska by allowing the state to continue leveraging millions in Federal dollars to maintain healthy populations of moose, caribou, and other big game for Alaskans to put in their freezers. SB 22 ([link removed]) passed the legislature 56-3 on May 17, 2021.

Senate Bill 40 ensures that veterans and their families who are looking for assistance with veterans benefits services are fully informed about the free services offered by Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) before they pay for assistance. This bill will stop predatory businesses from taking advantage of veterans in need of help and increase awareness of the services VSOs offer for free. SB 40 ([link removed]) passed the legislature 55-3 on May 19, 2021

My sincere thanks to those who were a part of crafting these bills, my colleagues for their support, and everyone who wrote and called in with their thoughts.

(Pictured above: Senator Revak with Senate President Micciche and Senate Minority Leader Begich on the Senate Floor)
Hope for the Willow Project!
In February, work on the new North Slope "Willow" project was abruptly halted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as a lawsuit trying to stop the project made its way through court. That decision was a body-blow to Alaskans already struggling to stay afloat ([link removed]) in an economy ravaged by a once-in-a-century pandemic, low oil prices, and budget constraints.

On Wednesday, the Biden Administration filed a court brief ([link removed]) defending Alaska's right to development this project, confirming the absolute necessity of the North Slope Willow Project for the future of Alaska.

The Willow Project is one of the best oil development projects on Alaska's horizon, with the potential to produce over 100,000 barrels a day for the next few decades. That will create thousands of good-paying jobs for Alaskans, invite critical energy investment in Alaska, and generate much-needed revenue for our economy and our state.

The final court decision is still to come, but the administration's cooperation is a huge step toward a favorable outcome for Alaska.
Official Muni Runoff Election results here ([link removed])

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Local Contacts

Track bills by texting a bill number to 559-245-2529 or by visiting ([link removed])
Rep. Laddie Shaw (District 26): 907-465-4945
Rep. Calvin Schrage (District 25): 907-465-4931

Find your Community Council: Online here ([link removed]) or call 907-277-1977
Municipality of Anchorage website ([link removed])
Assembly-member contacts ([link removed])
Anchorage School District: 907-742-4000
Anchorage School Board: 907-742-1101
Anchorage Pothole Hotline: 907-343-8277

COVID-19 Vaccine information:
Book an Appointment ([link removed]) (12+ y/o eligible)
Frequently Asked Questions ([link removed])

Mailing address:
Session: State Capitol, Room 125, Juneau, AK 99801
Interim: 1500 West Benson, Room 410, Anchorage, AK 99503

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