From Senator Jesse Kiehl <[email protected]>
Subject Welcome to the Real Deal With Kiehl!
Date March 18, 2023 3:56 AM
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Dire Straits Dire Straits March 17, 2023 Dear Friends and Neighbors, Happy Saint Paddy's Day, folks! There was a lot of green in the Capitol today. There were also bagpipers. So today I learned the pipes aren't just Scottish instruments (We also did serious work. I promise.) This week was busy—including the first set of hearings for SB 88, Senator Giessel's pension bill. The Labor & Commerce Committee will take public testimony on that bill Monday. I encourage you to weigh in. There's information below: Thanks to everyone who joined Rep. Story & me on the steps of the Capitol as Brothers in Arms rallying against PFAS contamination. Alaska Community Action on Toxics helped organize the event. One World I don’t normally talk about the federal government here, but there was huge news from the EPA this week. They proposed new enforceable drinking water standards for some of the PFAS 'forever chemicals' covered by my bill, SB 67. When the standards take effect, drinking water won’t be allowed to have more than 4 parts per trillion for the most common ones. Basically, if an ordinary lab can detect either of those compounds, you have too much. The proposal also sets a combined limit for some additional PFAS compounds. This change is absolutely essential. But federal rulemaking often makes glaciers look fast. Thankfully Alaska’s DEC committed this spring to putting out more health-protective state limits than we have so far. That's crucial, because no Alaskan should have to drink toxic water. With the EPA and DEC putting lower limits on PFAS, it's time for the legislature to act to stop new spills. My bill would prevent future PFAS contamination by switching to PFAS-free firefighting foams everywhere safe alternatives exist. I wouldn't mind your help with the effort. The Resources Committee is taking written testimony. You can email [email protected] to support SB 67. Our state needs to make sure we don't spill any more of this stuff! This week I got to show two groups of homeschool students from the IDEA program around the Capitol. Talking to young people about their state is one of the best parts of my job. I love it when they realize they're not So Far Away from their state government. Money for Nothing We dug in on digging up wetlands this morning in the Senate Finance Committee. The state’s been noodling on the idea of taking 404 primacy for years. If that happens, the state would be responsible for around 75% of permits to drain, dredge, or fill Alaska wetlands. That's what section 404 of the relevant federal law is about. Right now the federal EPA does all of them. If the state took over as the primary permitter, we'd call that "taking primacy." Uncle Sam would still keep certain wetlands, including ones with water affecting interstate commerce. Last year DEC asked for the money to do this, but the legislature balked and instead appropriated $1 million to study the concept. The report said 404 primacy will be better for permittees since the state could use more flexible mitigation plans and it’ll be easier to deal with DEC than EPA. But the federal government already has the flexibility they're talking about. Juneau used it for the most recent segment of the downtown seawalk. And DEC would still need to enforce all the federal standards. Plus, the report predicts fees to applicants would go up. Plus, Alaska Tribes will lose the right to engage in government-to-government conversations with the feds about permit impacts. Only three other states have 404 primacy. Florida was the most recent, and they had big cost overruns. Taking it on also opens up the state up to lawsuits about the permits, which would have to be funded with state dollars. So what are the next steps? The governor’s asking for about $5 million in this year’s budget. We couldn’t actually get primacy from the EPA until 2025, but we’d need to staff up and fully fund the program this year to be ready. If there were no surprises, the program would need 32 new state employees and cost the general fund about $5 million a year into the indefinite future. I don't mind adding state workers if Alaskans get good value out of their salaries. But I don't see it here. I got the sense a majority of the Finance Committee members had significant concerns, too. This is one to keep an eye on! Walk of Life: It was cold at the PFAS rally, so four-month-old Sequoia bundled up and had Mom hold his "Babies for Senate Bill 67" sign! 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 B Juneau Hockey Tournament The State Tournament for 12 and under hockey teams runs March 17-20 at Treadwell Arena! Juneau WorldQuest International trivia and food! This benefit for the World Affairs Council is a lot of fun, even if I am one of the emcees. This Saturday night, 3/18. Gold Medal Basketball The 74th annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament begins March 19 and ends on the 25th at Juneau Douglas High School! Juneau 19th Annual 12x12 Art Contemplate art under the theme of “opposites” at the City Museum! The exhibit will be on display until April 15th! Juneau Open Mic & Art Night Mountainside Open Mic & Art Night is back! All ages are welcomed to enjoy this musical and artistic experience! Gustavus Art Camp with Morgan Art camp for ages 6-10 on March 20th and ages 11-18 on March 21st both at 2pm! $5 per participant but all supplies are provided Skagway Late Night Library Friday nights at 6pm, come to the library for a different activity each week! Crafts, games, and more for ages 10-18! Skagway Story Time Remember story time with Ms. Anna! It's perfect for kids up to age 3—a fun romp with songs, books, and more. Each Wednesday at the library, 10:30am. Haines The Crafter’s Hall Hone your craft skills and learn new ones with others in this workshop! Every 3rd Saturday at 1pm in Harriett Hall! Haines Story Time Stories and songs for children and the young-at-heart! Every Monday and Friday in the library at 11:00 am. Haines Trivia Night Trivia night at the library has prizes—and it's free! Be there at 6:30pm. Come with a team or form one on the spot. Haines Portable Southeast Art by Southeast Alaskans, born of the need to connect. This curated traveling art exhibition runs April 7-27. 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: Aurora Hauke 907 465 5051 [email protected] Caleb Yabes 907 465 4947 [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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