Halfway through our second week of session, it’s apparent that our process is moving along into a regular routine. Committees are scheduling and hearing bills, the Finance Committee is meeting with departments and getting updates on the important issues that face Alaska, and constituents from around the state are meeting with legislators to discuss their particular issues. My office is no exception. Although I am a member of only two committees, the Labor and Commerce Committee and the Special Committee on Economic Development, Trade and Development, my schedule is loading up on a daily basis. It amazes me sometimes how truly diverse our state is with each community and region having special needs or concerns.[caption id="attachment_882" align="aligncenter" width="240" caption="Speaker Chenault - 1/27/10"][/caption]
The following information was sent to my office by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. You may find this information useful if you are currently or would like to participate in the AHFC Home Energy Rebate program.
This is an update to let you know that there will be a change to the AHFC Home Energy Rebate program waiting list. As of January 1, 2010, when a person signs up for the program, an energy rater will not be dispatched to their home until there has proven to be enough funds in the program balance to encumber up to $10,000 for their rebate.
During today’s session, I introduced House Bill 312. House Bill 312 places an advisory vote on either the primary or general election ballot the question of using permanent fund earnings, after dividends are paid and the fund is inflation proofed, to help offset the costs of an in-state natural gas pipeline.
As we start the second week of Session, budget hearings are in full swing.
FY 11 Budget bills that have been introduced in the House by the Governor are as follows:
HB 300 Operating Budget; HB 301 Capital Budget; HB 302 Mental Health Budget.
Agency budget increases have been kept to a minimum, however, the Governor has presented some big ticket items including deferred maintenance and the Merit Scholarship Program which will be discussed in depth by the Committees. The Legislature is still awaiting the arrival of the Scholarship bill and the Supplemental bill.
This past November, 15 legislators, including myself, wrote Governor Parnell requesting information regarding statistics on employment and oil and gas activity since the passage of ACES, then Governor Palin’s oil tax system which passed the Legislature in 2007. A copy of the letter to the governor is included within this posting.
Yesterday marked the first day of the 2010 session for the 26th Alaska State Legislature. Representatives Kyle Johansen, Nancy Dahlstrom and I held a House Majority press conference and discussed some of our expectations for this session. I was able to address one of my concerns, as noted by Harry Noah, former Project Manager for the In-state Gasline Project for the Administration, that we need to focus on one or two energy-related projects rather than try to fund or undertake too many projects of which there may be little hope of completing. I would rather we expend funds that have the highest chance of being successful projects. One of the projects that comes to mind is the in-state gasline. I continue to view this as a priority and I believe we will have a number of discussions regarding all the gasline plans. However, it is my intention to put more focus on getting an instate project underway.