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September 20, 2021

Misfire and $$ Down the Toilet

SHOW ME THE MONEY

It’s budget time in Juneau, and we’re looking at a strange set of circumstances that is complicating the process. Weirdly, it’s a giant influx of cash! You were not expecting that, were you?

Joe Biden’s amazing American Rescue Plan means Alaska will receive about $1.1 billion, plus hundreds of millions more for education from K-UA, tribes and local governments, and infrastructure projects. You’ll recall Sen. Murkowski, Sen. Sullivan, and Rep. Young all voted against this bill. Guess they are not interested in bringing home the bacon anymore. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Now, the Alaska House and Senate must determine how to legally invest the money for the greater good of all Alaskans. Thankfully, there is a bipartisan majority in the House with members like Rep. Spohnholz and Rep. Chris Tuck to help make smart investments that benefit the state. Hopefully, the less savvy legislators won’t derail it and the Governor will not use veto authority to make a political point at the expense of Alaskans. Stay tuned!


NOT VERY SMART

[photo credit: University of Alaska, Anchorage]

Speaking of the American Rescue Plan, Dunleavy may have shot Alaska in the foot when it comes to receiving millions of education dollars, because of his sustained draconian cuts to the University. #ThanksDunleavy

Here’s the explanation.“… the federal cash requires the state to maintain what’s called a ‘maintenance of effort’ to keep funding for both K-12 and the University of Alaska roughly even to pre-pandemic levels, a measure that seeks to stop states from cutting budgets and swapping in the federal money that’s intended to cover additional costs. The measure runs directly into the compact between Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the University of Alaska Board of Regents that determined stepped cuts through this upcoming budget year. “Legislative Finance Division Director Alexei Painter told the House Ways and Means Committee … that federal guidance on the money is continually evolving, but that as it currently stands the state could miss out about a third of the federal funds, a combined $129.5 million, because of the cuts to the University of Alaska.”

You can read the rest at The Midnight Sun, HERE.


VOTER SUPPRESSION IS NOT POPULAR APPARENTLY

Remember Senate Bill 39, Sen. Mike Shower’s (R-Wasilla) voter suppression bill? The first iteration of the bill was heinous, removing local governments’ ability to utilize vote by mail, and hobbling people’s ability to assist elderly and disabled people with voting among other things. Public outcry was fast and furious, and the bill was quickly retracted from discussion for a rewrite. It may resurface with modifications. We don’t know. But Shower keeps having hearings with no opportunity as of yet for the public to testify. We’ll keep waiting and let you know when that chance comes.

In the meantime, House Bill 66 from Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) will have its first hearing next week. Stay tuned for more on that, but suffice it to say it’s a GOOD election bill that makes it easier, not harder for Alaskans to vote! How refreshing!

CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

As the remainder of the mail-in ballots arrive in Anchorage to be counted, we can make some predictions from the look of things, although nothing is set in stone until the election is certified after the last overseas ballots postmarked by April 6 and arriving in Anchorage by April 20 are finally counted. 

Reminder: It’s better to be accurate than fast, even though it’s tough to wait!

Since Anchorage had 15 candidates for Mayor this year, and since a candidate must receive 45% of the vote outright to win, it should come as no surprise that we will end up in a runoff – likely between long-time Assembly Member Forrest Dunbar and far-right uber-conservative Dave Bronson.

As of this writing, all of the Alaska Democratic Party supported/Anchorage Democrats’ endorsed School Board candidates also seem to be holding leads. We’re very stoked about this because the talent pool of candidates is deep, and experienced School Board members can and do go on to do some great things for the state with a great understanding of education and what our kids and teachers need to be successful.


MISFIRE!

WOOPS! We mentioned this epic blunder last week, but now the pieces have fallen into place as the Recall Rivera effort seems to have fizzled.

The right-wing rocket surgeons at the Recall Felix Rivera campaign spent a boatload of their available cash on two full-color mailers urging voters in “District 4” to recall the Anchorage Assembly Chair, and not to “flush your money down the toilet.” 

The mailers were sent to “District 4” all right, but they were sent to Alaska State House District 4, not Anchorage Assembly District 4. The district 4 that got the mailers is located in Fairbanks, and bewildered residents had no idea who Felix Rivera was, or why they were getting the flyers.

Rivera’s fellow Assembly Member Christopher Constant noted the irony.

And they weren’t going for likely right-wing voters either since one of the recipients of the mailer was none other than HD4 Representative Grier Hopkins, whom we assure you is a Democrat. 🙂  I wonder if that angry mob with torches and pitchforks that was outside the Assembly chambers last summer are demanding their donation money back yet!


REJECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES

If anyone has been wondering whether Sen. Lora “I’ll be a COVID vector if I want to” Reinbold (R-Eagle River) had any kind of consequences for non-mask wearing in past weeks, the answer is yes. She was actually fined. No word yet whether over-nosing and pulling the plastic face shield 4 inches away from your face when you’re talking will get you a fine but we’ll keep our ear to the ground.

She also introduced Senate Bill 119 this week entitled “An Act relating to oaths of office; and requiring public officers to read the state constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution.” This received a whopping FOUR committees of referral which means it would have to have hearings and be voted out of the Education Committee, the Judicial Committee, the State Affairs Committee and the Finance Committee before it would ever even get to the floor for a vote. 

In a hilariously ironic twist, she also presented a bill on the same day that would establish a legislative committee tasked with… wait for it… nullifying federal laws it doesn’t like. 

“Upon receipt of a federal statute, regulation, or an executive order for consideration and process, the committee shall recommend whether to nullify in its entirety a specific federal statute, regulation, or executive order.”

Someone might want to notify Reinbold who is the Chair of the Judiciary Committee about the Supremacy Clause, which states that federal law is the law of the land and can never be superseded by laws of the state when they are in conflict. And yes, the Supremacy Clause is in Article VI, Paragraph 2 OF THE CONSTITUTION, which she wants to require that everyone read. 


TESTIFY!

You’ve got three opportunities to testify on important issues!

ONE: 

You can give verbal testimony on the Operating Budget on these days and times. Call 30 minutes ahead to sign in.

Friday, April 9 from 1:30-3:30pm if you live in: Fairbanks, Kenai, Mat-Su, Anchorage, Bethel, Cordova, Kotzebue, Nome, Utqiagvik 

Saturday, April 10 from 10am-2pm for Off Nets (all communities)

  • Juneau (907) 586-9085
  • Anchorage (907) 563-9085
  • Elsewhere (844) 586-9085

And if you’re phone shy, or can’t make it at those times, you can submit written testimony to: house.finance@akleg.gov

TWO:

Sen. Bill Wielechowski’s (D-Anchorage) SJR1 seeks to put the PFD in the Constitution. This bill had a hearing in the Judiciary Committee last week. Sen. Reinbold asked about where the budget cuts would come from, and Wielechowski said we could be receiving over $1billion a year if we eliminated oil tax credits – allowing us to put the PFD in the constitution so the legislature would not be forced to keep whittling it away to balance the budget. This will be very interesting public testimony for a resolution whose supporters span the political spectrum.

You can watch an unusual bipartisan town hall on the topic that happened this week HERE.

THREE:

Rep. Chris Tuck’s election bill, HB 66, has been scheduled for a bill hearing on Monday at 1 p.m. in the House Judiciary Committee.  If you would like to testify call (907) 563-9085 from Anchorage or toll-free at 1-844-586-9085. 

Here’s how HB66 removes barriers and makes it easy and convenient for all Alaskans to vote!

House Bill 66:

  • Authorizes same-day voter registration, allowing first-time voters to register and vote on election day. 
  • Allows the use of electronic signatures for voter registration.
  • Calls for the same early voting locations to be available during every election.
  • Creates an option for permanent absentee voting for individuals that plan to vote by mail in every election.
  • Requires the Division of Elections to provide a postage-paid return envelope with absentee ballots. (Eliminates the need for stamps to vote)
  • Clarifies terminology for early voting to remove confusion between early voting and absentee in-person voting.
  • Requires election officials to notify a voter if their absentee ballot is rejected.
  • Requires the Division of Elections to offer a voter the option to fix a mailed-in absentee ballot if there are errors.
  • Eliminates the witness requirement for absentee ballots.
  • Increases the pay for poll workers from $12 per hour to $15 per hour.
  • Clarifies that candidates and groups sponsoring ballot initiatives can have poll watchers.
  • Allows absentee ballots to be counted as they are received instead of waiting until after the polls close on election day.

LET THE POSTURING BEGIN!

It didn’t take long after President Biden signed a series of executive actions on gun control Thursday for Gov. Dunleavy to puff out his chest and pull one of his “NOT ON MY WATCH”tweets.

Biden’s executive actions include: cracking down on ‘ghost guns’ which can be assembled from a kit and are untraceable; limiting the ability of stabilizing shoulder braces which make handguns act more like short-barreled rifles in terms of accuracy and stability; and (gasp) funding anti-violence programs in communities. Hardly a threat to the second amendment. And yet…

Maybe he tweeted this because “Stop thinking about the fact that I just blew a hole in the bottom of the boat with education funding by gutting the University of Alaska, and that they’ve almost got the required number of signatures to put my recall on a special election ballot – THEY’RE COMING FOR YOUR GHOST GUNS!!!” is more than 140 characters.

The legality and hazards of modern homemade weapons is a complex and interesting topic.Here’s a link to a ’60 Minutes’ article on “ghost guns” if you want to learn more about them, and another good article about the perils of modern technology and building undetectable firearms HERE.

This article was reprinted with permission from the ADP

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2 Responses to “Misfire and $$ Down the Toilet”
  1. Zyxomma says:

    I haven’t visited in quite a while. Always good to read your work, Jeanne, and offer solidarity from NYC.

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