May 6, 2024


Dear Friends and Neighbors:

With less than two weeks until the end of session things in the Capitol are moving fast. We anticipate marathon floor sessions between now and gaveling out. It is an intense time, and it is likely my office will be less responsive to constituents through the month of May.


The constitutionally mandated end of the regular session is May 15th. Following adjournment, in next week’s Swell, I will provide a high-level overview of the bills and budget that passed this session. This will be followed by a paper mailer with more details on the budgets and notable bills. As with last year, the Swell will become a monthly newsletter starting in June.


If all goes according to plan, I hope to leave shortly after the end of session to enjoy the Little Norway Festival in Petersburg, followed by travel to my nephew’s wedding and a bike trip with family. I will be back in Southeast in June, and I plan to travel to Juneau for Celebration, June 5 -8th


We will have a staff transition after session and are unspeakably sad to say good-bye to Ann, the master of our front desk. Thatcher will be trolling again this summer, and we are delighted to welcome Cherie Bowman as interim staff. Please feel welcome to contact the office anytime and thank you for your patience as we navigate the end of session and transition to interim.

If there is a bill or budget item you would like to share your position on, a district issue you would like to bring to my attention, or if you will be in Juneau, please contact my office by phone (907.465.3732) or email (  To learn more about what is going on in Juneau, you, your friends, and neighbors can subscribe to Southeast Swell by emailing or by signing up on this website.

Amazing to see these ravenstail robes danced and celebrated on April 30th at the YÉlL KOOWÚ event organized by Lily Hope.

Introducing Cherie

Cherie, Thatcher, Ann and I in the Capitol last week.

Cherie first came to Alaska in 1993 to work in a fish processing plant in Naknek. She eventually landed in Fairbanks, which was her home for over 25 years. She has three adult sons, and in 2019, with support from family and friends, Cherie returned to college and completed her studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she graduated magna cum laude in 2022.


In addition, Cherie is a talented singer/songwriter and recently performed at the 49th annual Alaska Folk Festival. She is also a writer and has appeared in the UAF student poetry publication, Ice Box, and will be featured in the Fall 2024 issue of Plain China, the National Anthology of the Best Undergraduate Writing.


These experiences have led Cherie to her current position with the Alaska State Legislature as an aide, where she has worked for the past two years. Cherie is looking forward to spending the interim in Southeast Alaska with Representative Himschoot. She is eager to visit with the residents in all House District 2 communities to learn more about the important issues impacting the district and she is excited to work collaboratively to find the best solutions.

Legislative Update

Budgets and Bills at the End of Session


The House rejected the Senate’s changes to the operating budget on Friday. A conference committee was appointed today and they will begin to iron out differences between the two versions of the operating budget. It is likely the Senate will concur with the House’s changes to the capital budget, which is extremely limited again this year. Meanwhile, all the policy bills that have been filed over the past two years must pass both the House and Senate in the next 10 days or they will effectively die. The bills are not automatically carried over next year when the 34th legislature begins and instead the process will start from scratch.



HB 330


One bill we passed in the House last week that I hope will make it through the Senate is HB 330, “An Act relating to the use and possession of electronic devices by prisoners; and relating to prisoner communication reimbursement rates.” Originally a bill sponsored by Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, it is carried this session by Representative Sarah Vance from Homer. This bill will finally allow inmates to use tablets for the specific purposes of telehealth, contact with families, and to work on re-entry to society. With 95% of incarcerated individuals returning to our communities, re-entry plans help make them successful. The use of the tablets will be very limited and most other states already allow their use in correction facilities. It is important to me to provide inmates from rural areas, like House District 2, opportunities to have contact with their families.



Bills and Resolutions that Passed the House Last Week


HB 202, "An Act relating to the availability and administration of opioid overdose drugs in public schools."


HB 329, "An Act relating to state tideland leases; relating to geoduck seed transfers; and relating to aquatic farming or related hatchery operation site leases."


HB 226, "An Act relating to insurance; relating to pharmacy benefits managers; relating to dispensing fees; and providing for an effective date."


SB 126, "An Act naming the Matt Glover Bike Path."


HB 144, "An Act relating to education tax credits; and providing for an effective date by repealing the effective date of secs. 1, 2, and 21, ch. 61, SLA 2014."


HB 228, "An Act establishing the Alaska task force for the regulation of psychedelic medicines approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration; and providing for an effective date."


HB 330, "An Act relating to the use and possession of electronic devices by prisoners; and relating to prisoner communication reimbursement rates."


HB 203, "An Act relating to wage payments."


HB 375, "An Act prohibiting certain restrictions based on the energy source of a motor vehicle."


HB 394, "An Act relating to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and regulation of the service of natural gas storage and liquefied natural gas import facilities; relating to records of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska; relating to rates established by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska; and providing for an effective date."


HJR 18, Urging the United States Congress to repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and Government Pension Offset of the Social Security Act.”


SJR 14, Affirming the commitment of the Alaska State Legislature to supporting small fishing-related businesses, families engaged in fishing, and the preservation of the state's cultural way of life; and calling on the United States Congress and all federal agencies to adopt policies and engage in certain efforts to improve the competitiveness and resiliency of the state's seafood industry.”

Correspondence Study Programs


On May 2nd, 2024, Superior Court Judge Adolf Zeman issued a stay until June 30, 2024 in the case challenging the use of allotments for private and religious schools. This will allow correspondence study programs to continue to function as they did before the ruling, until the end of the fiscal year. Last Friday the House Education Committee passed a bill that would temporarily fix the problem with current law that was identified by Judge Zeman. Time is limited and it is uncertain when the Alaska Supreme Court will hear the appeal. For these reasons, I continue to push for a legislative fix this session.

It was a tremendous opportunity to tour the Navy destroyer USS William Lawrence in Juneau last weekend.

What You Can Do

Take an Alaska Lumber Grading Training Course 

Make a Christmas Tree Skirt for Trees that will Represent Alaska Inside the U.S. Capitol.

  • The Forest Service is collecting 45 Christmas tree skirts for smaller trees that will be in the U.S. Capitol over the holidays.
  • They must be submitted by September 16, 2024.

Nominate Someone for the Annual Governor's Arts and Humanities Awards 

Fill out Your FAFSA!

  • The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) provides education and career funding solutions. Currently leading the Alaska FAFSA Completion Initiative, ACPE offers a variety of resources to support and increase FAFSA completion. Historically, Alaska ranks last or next to last in national FAFSA completion rates, resulting in our students losing out on millions of dollars in financial aid opportunities each year. In collaboration with education stakeholders across the State, ACPE is working to change that! Visit to learn more.

 Follow the Legislature and Comment

  • If there is a bill or resolution you want to follow, you can get an email update every time action is taken on the legislation with the Bill Tracking Management Facility.