From Senator Jesse Kiehl <[email protected]>
Subject Welcome to the Real Deal With Kiehl!
Date September 12, 2021 3:18 AM
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Down to the Wire Down to the Wire September 11, 2021 Dear Friends and Neighbors, The special session expires Tuesday night. It's down to the wire with this year's PFD and more still up in the air! I joined hundreds of others in an unrelenting rain this morning to remember the dead and honor the sacrifices of so many who rushed toward danger twenty years ago today on 9/11. Baby Steps Alaska's overstressed health care facilities need help. Instead of using a disaster declaration to make things safer (we're in session, so he could do it constitutionally!) the governor is taking half steps. At least half steps are better than nothing? On the Senate floor yesterday, we debated a bill to make it a little easier for hospitals to bring on new staff and deal with the COVID crush. It also lets Alaskans use out-of-state telehealth through next July. I went to the floor at 10:30 am, enthusiastic to vote yes. But then amendment after amendment made the bill dangerous for Alaskans. The anti-vaccine changes stopped hospitals and nursing homes from requiring vaccines in their facilities. They stopped private employers from protecting workers and customers. Ultimately, a good bill turned into a dangerous one. Around 12:45 pm I joined the others who voted no, and the bill failed on the floor. Many hours and conversations later, we reconsidered and passed the bill to give the House a shot at fixing it. I'm hopeful they'll send us back a bill that just does telehealth and staffing. The House Health & Social Services Committee just did exactly that. I have my fingers crossed it can stay that way as it goes to the House floor! Meetings upon Meetings The committees I serve on went full tilt this week. Not every committee is doing substantive work, but we moved some big pieces. The Senate Judiciary Committee is going full speed ahead. We considered a different change to the PFD formula that would have created a separate constitutional fund to pay PFDs and written a minimum $1200 check into the law. It's a more complicated approach than the committee moved out in SB 53, but it was interesting to think about. We also moved a constitutional spending cap bill, SJR 301. I don’t like this piece of the fiscal puzzle. Alaska voters should set the state's spending priorities when you elect and replace your legislators. It's also strange to imagine today's legislature knows the 'right' level of spending forever. The state has cut the budget deeply. We’re not keeping up with Alaskans' needs. Just look at the inadequate and unreliable ferry schedule, our backlog of major maintenance, diminished public health capacity, and on, and on... At the same time, it may take some sort of spending restriction to build enough support for a full-scale fiscal fix. So I really appreciate the committee’s work to make this particular cap reasonable, tied to our state’s economy and not debilitating to the services Alaskans need. In the Senate Resources Committee we started looking at revenues. SB 3002 takes a three-pronged approach: (1) corporate income taxes for large businesses, (2) an increase in motor fuel tax, (3) reducing oil tax credits. The first piece makes sure Hilcorp (the company that bought out BP on the North Slope) starts paying corporate income tax like Exxon and ConocoPhillips, which produce the same oil from the same fields into the same facilities. They don't have to now, and that's not fair. It also goes further, taxing all Alaska companies' profits after $4 million. That's fewer than 900 businesses statewide. The second prong would raise our motor fuel taxes. Alaska hasn’t adjusted the current eight cents/gallon since six years before I was born. If it had kept up with inflation, it would be about 45 cents today. The bill would only raise it to 16. What's missing is a way for electric cars (like mine) to contribute toward the wear and tear we, too, put on the roads. The third component is oil tax credits. Our oil taxes are complex, but we use these per-barrel credits to ‘graduate’ our oil and gas production tax, lowering the rate at lower profit levels. The bill lowers the credit, so it increases the tax rate. In a couple of years it would raise about $250 million per year, matching a proposal Gov. Dunleavy's Revenue commissioner presented a month ago. We'll get more analysis soon, but my first impression is that this change makes sense. And hey—we're actually considering significant revenue bills! It's been far too long since the legislature did that. All my best, Did someone forward you this newsletter? Did you fall into it through the series of tubes? Want more? SUBSCRIBE Events & Happenings Around District Q Juneau Jazz & Classics Fall Music Festival Check out this in-person, live music event Sept. 29-Oct. 2. You’ll be serenaded by award-winning professional jazz & classical musicians! (If you don't see Judy Carmichael, you'll probably regret it forever!) Spruce Root Work Readiness & Soft Skills Workshop Looking to change jobs? Learn new skills to advance in the one you have? Check out this workshop from Spruce Root. Sign-ups are due by Oct. 13. UAS Evening at Egan Join this virtual Evening at Egan event on Sept. 17. Professor Mischa Jackson will speak about the history of Alaska Native education and how we create space for students to thrive. Orange Shirt Day Come learn about and remember indigenous children forced to attend boarding schools. Join us at 5:30 pm Sept. 30. Capitol Tours Our awesome friends at the City Museum are back giving FREE tours of the Alaska State Capitol! Learn about the building’s proud history and stop by my office (Rm 419) to say hi! Haines Backcountry Games Show off your skills during the Backcountry Games on Oct. 10. Part highland games, part Alaska wacky, it'll be fun for competitors of all ages! Skagway Garden City Market Check out the works of talented local artisans at the market September 18! Skagway Fall Festival Check out the art, music, and more Oct. 15-17. There’s lots of fun for the whole family! Gustavus Tidewater Glaciers Learn all about tidewater glaciers from UAS Professor Jason Amundson. Sept. 16 at the Community Center! Gustavus Wolf Trapping Scientific research? Fur? Pet safety? Learn all there is to know about Gustavus wolf trapping from the Department of Fish & Game. Sept. 17 at the Community Center. Juneau Artpocalypse The Juneau Makerspace is having an evening of art, food, bonfires, and more! Please join them Sept. 18. Is there an event in our district I should know about? Please call or email! Snail Mail? Alaska State Capitol Room 419 Juneau, AK 99801 Call: 800 550 4947 907 465 4947 Email Me! ‌ ‌ ‌ Contact My Staff, the people who power the work: Edric Carrillo 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] Update Profile | Constant Contact Data Notice Sent by [email protected]
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