From Sen. Bill Wielechowski <[email protected]>
Subject Alaska's 2023 Legislative Session is Underway
Date January 26, 2023 11:18 PM
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The latest from Senator Bill Wielechowski January 26 , 2023 Senator Bill Wielechowski State Capitol, Rm 103 Juneau, AK 99801 800-550-2435 907-465-2435 [email protected] 1500 W Benson #315 Anchorage, AK 99503 907-269-0120 Contact My Staff Mercedes Colbert Chief of Staff [email protected] David Dunsmore Legislative Aide [email protected] Nick Moe Legislative Aide [email protected] Hunter Lottsfeldt Legislative Aide [email protected] Kali Spencer Legislative Intern [email protected] Contact the Governor Governor Dunleavy's Anchorage office may be reached at 269-7450, or e-mail him at [email protected] Visit the state website Track Legislation Visit the Legislature's website Submit a Letter to the Editor The Daily News welcomes and publishes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email [email protected]. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to [email protected]. ________________ Dear Friends & Neighbors, I hope your new year is off to a great start! I have spent much of the last month moving offices to Juneau and handling the administrative duties in my new role as the Senate Rules Chair for this upcoming legislative session. Now that we are underway for our first full week, I wanted to provide you with an update. Thank you for reading my e-news! New Session The Senate gaveled in last week and voted on new leadership. In my role as Rules Chair, I help with administrative duties in the Capitol Building and calendar legislation for the Senate Floor. The Senate has organized a bi-partisan coalition with Democrats and Republicans sharing leadership positions within the majority caucus of the Senate. I'm looking forward to working with all my colleagues in a collaborative and productive way to address some of the big issues facing our state. Senator Wielechowski Receiving his Corsage Before Being Sworn In Senator Wielechowski and Lt. Gov Dahlstrom Signing Oath of Office Senator Wielechowski and Staff with Lt. Gov Dahlstrom Welcoming New Staff I wanted to take the time and welcome the new staff members to my office, Mercedes Colbert, Hunter Lottsfeldt, and UA Intern Kali Spencer. Mercedes Colbert is taking on the role of Chief of Staff in my office and helping support the many administrative duties of the Rules Chair. She has over a decade of legislative experience including working for Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich since 2019. Hunter Lottsfeldt is taking the lead with scheduling and constituent work in my office. He brings with him previous legislative experience including a family history of serving the legislature. His great-grandfather was elected to Alaska's third state legislature in 1962. Kali Spencer is in her senior year at the University of Alaska Southeast. She is majoring in interdisciplinary studies and is a Student Regent for the Board of Regents at the University of Alaska. Kali is part of the Ted Stevens Legislative Internship Program. A big welcome to my new staff! Note: The names and contact information for all my staff, including David Dunsmore and Nick Moe, can be found above on the blue sidebar to the left. Senator Wielechowski stands with teachers at the rally for education on Monday Education Funding and Pensions There are many big issues facing our state and I wanted to highlight a few priorities that are taking center stage. After the Anchorage School District proposed drastic budget cuts to programs, including closing two schools in East Anchorage, it was clear that the legislature needs to do more to support education funding. Just as inflation has hurt family budgets, years of flat funding have made balancing school district budgets nearly impossible without cutting educational opportunities. As your senator, I have a constitutional duty to ensure that education is fully funded for all Alaskans, and I am committed to doing whatever I can to provide the increased state support needed to help school districts offset the high cost of inflation and provide our students the top quality education they will need to succeed in the global economy. Another issue that relates to teacher and public employee retention is passing a pension plan for Alaska's teachers. Alaska is one of the only states in the country without a defined benefit pension for teachers. This makes it easy for other states to lure experienced Alaskan teachers away with the promise of a secure retirement program. In order to have the best education system, we need the best teachers and we cannot afford to keep losing talented teachers to other states or the private sector. Alaska went from having one of the best retirement plans to having one of the worst and our students have been paying the price for it ever since. It is time we fix retirement for all our public sector employees to help keep our best and brightest workers in the state. Governor's Carbon Offset Plan Governor Dunleavy announced his carbon offset plan on January 13th. His broad plan includes: Geologic sequestration – basically allowing companies to pay to inject carbon dioxide into empty oil reserves. Also typically referred to as carbon capture, utilization, and storage or “CCUS”. Biologic sequestration – where the state can be paid to not allow development on specific land and water allowing accumulation of carbon in trees, soils, kelps, or other natural processes can be promoted or encouraged. While the details and specific bill language have not been released yet, I am excited to learn more about this potential revenue-generating proposal. With Alaska's fluctuating oil prices and budget uncertainty, I welcome new and innovative ways to generate revenue for our state. As always, feel free to reach out to my office if I can be of assistance. Warmly, Alaska Senate Democrats | Capitol Building, 4th Avenue & Main Street, Juneau, AK 99801 Unsubscribe [email protected] Constant Contact Data Notice Sent by [email protected]
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