The 32nd Session of the Alaska Legislature ended yesterday with the completion of a wide range of Governor Mike Dunleavy’s legislative and policy priorities that will move Alaska towards a more secure and stable future.
“This year’s session was the culmination of a four-year effort to bring a greater degree of accountability to public education, continual improvements to the public safety system and rebuilding Alaska’s economy,” said Governor Dunleavy. “Once again, I thank those legislators who prioritized Alaskan’s needs over everything else. Our families are experiencing runaway inflation, soaring fuel prices and economic fallout – they are trying to budget accordingly. Although not a statutory PFD, $3,200 was agreed upon by the Legislature making it the largest PFD to date. This PFD, for a family of four, equates to $12,800 which should assist significantly with battling high rates of inflation.”
Legislative Successes for Alaskans: 32nd Legislature
Public Safety – Protecting all Alaskans
Continued investments in public safety build upon Governor Dunleavy’s commitment to protect rural and urban Alaskans. New state trooper and VPSO positions will restore the positions eliminated by the previous administration and further restore confidence in the state’s public safety system.
People First Initiative – Safety and Prevention
Governor Dunleavy announced the People First Initiative late last year to address domestic violence, sex trafficking, missing and murdered Indigenous persons, homelessness and foster care. With the administration’s combative efforts against sexual assault in Alaska, Governor Dunleavy was pleased to see the passing of House Bill 325. Sponsored by Representative Sara Rasmussen, the bill contained three components of the Governor’s Victim Rights Crime package – consent definition update, protection of crime victims, and revoking teaching certificates from individuals who committed certain sex crimes. House Bill 172 also passed the Legislature. For the first time in Alaska, people will have somewhere to go besides a jail cell or an ER gurney.
Although 44 out of 60 legislators voted for a $3,850 dividend, the final amount of $3,200 will still be welcomed by Alaskans. Again, Governor Dunleavy believes government should put people first in all of its decisions. While 16 legislators voted against this idea, the vast majority of legislators did put Alaskans first and agreed upon the largest dividend in Alaska’s state history.
Alaska Reads Act – Accountability
The Legislature also passed the Alaska Reads Act, championed by the Governor and a host of bipartisan Legislators, to ensure expected reading outcomes for our kids. This legislation moves Alaska into putting the needs of children first and foremost.
Alaska Statehood Defense – Protecting Our Sovereignty
The FY23 budget allocates $2.5 million to the Alaska Department of Law to defend Alaska from undue federal encroachment into Alaska’s sovereignty. The Biden Administration has taken unprecedented moves to shut down Alaska’s resource-based economy. Alaska must do everything it can to defend the State’s rights to sustainably manage Alaska’s vast and abundant resources as promised at statehood to ensure that subsistence lifestyles are maintained into the future.
Capital Budget – Critical Infrastructure
The capital budget passed by the Legislature secures funding for critical infrastructure in Alaska port roads and essential corridors of commerce and national security.
Energy Diversification – Preparing for the Future
A growing and diversified economy requires stable and affordable energy. Governor Dunleavy’s legislation encouraging the use of microreactors, Senate Bill 177, passed this session and could revolutionize power generation, especially in rural communities that depend on expensive diesel fuel and heating oil.
Executive Order 121 – Dividing the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
Governor Dunleavy has proposed Executive Order 121, to divide the State’s largest department in two. It will become law effective July 1. The success of Governor Dunleavy’s initiative will be improved outcomes for the most vulnerable people services by Alaska’s largest and most costly state agency. The reorganization of the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) will create two smaller, more nimble departments. The Department of Family and Community Services, and the Department of Health. The two departments will be able to manage their programs more efficiently and more responsibly to the constituents they serve.
Governor Dunleavy added, “While the budget accomplishes many of my priorities, I will closely examine the overall level of spending in the FY23 budget to determine where money can be saved to preserve as much of the windfall from high oil prices as possible.”
Once Governor Dunleavy receives the budget bills, he will carefully review and analyze the options best suited for Alaskans.