March 25, 2024


Dear Friends and Neighbors:

At a House Coalition caucus meeting this week leadership encouraged us to “get ready to ramp up” since the Operating Budget is expected to pass out of the House Finance Committee soon. Once it gets to the floor there will likely be days of discussion and probably a number of amendments. My fingers are crossed the operating budget will come to the floor amended to include funding for domestic violence shelters and an increase in education funding among other priorities I share with my House Coalition colleagues.


As a reminder, while the House finalizes the Operating Budget, the Senate is working on the Capital Budget and on their version of the Operating Budget. Typically, but by no means every year, the House will pass the Operating Budget at the same time the Senate passes the Capital Budget. These budgets are then considered by the “other body.” Typically, the Senate makes changes to the Operating Budget and the House votes not to concur with those changes. The differences between the House and Senate Operating Budgets are then worked out in conference committee at the end of session. The conference committee budget is then approved by the House and Senate and finally transmitted to the Governor for his consideration.

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.


The House majority has signaled they will take an Easter break next weekend, and my staff have more than earned a couple of days off. Our office will closed on Friday, March 29 and have limited hours on Monday, April 1. If you will be in Juneau one of those days, I will be happy to meet with you. Please just call ahead so we can set a time!

Constituent Visits

It was such a special treat on Friday to attend the world premiere of the film “How We Rise,” which shows the creation of the healing pole carved by Joe and TJ Young from Hydaburg and raised at the Alaska Native Heritage Center last fall. Before the film we enjoyed a performance by the Kaigani Dancers from Hydaburg. 

I was honored to visit with community leaders from Angoon last week including Russell James, Nicole Bowen, Albert Howard, Charles James, Tribal Council Chair Mary Jean Duncan, Paul James and Angoon Mayor Peter Duncan.

I was overjoyed to have breakfast with one of my favorite constituents from Sitka on Saturday, and then show the Baranof Ballers around the Capitol.

House District 2 Basketball Champions

It was Gold Medal week in Juneau last week. I had such a great time connecting with folks from across the district and getting to watch some of the best basketball in Alaska. It’s a highlight of the legislative session for me! Congratulations to the bracket champions, all from HD 2!


  • M Bracket 2024 Champions: Hoonah
  • W Bracket 2024 Champions: Prince of Wales
  • C Bracket 2024 Champions: Hoonah
  • B Bracket 2024 Champions: Angoon


High school teams from across district two also did well at the Alaska Basketball State Championships held March 13th – 23rd in Anchorage. I am very proud of these young athletes!


  • Petersburg Vikings won the 2A boys’ championship game against Hooper Bay with a final score of 41 to 33. 
  • Kake Thunderbirds came in second after losing the 1A boys’ championship game to King Cove with a final score of 39 to 31.
  • Mt. Edgecumbe Braves came in second after losing 3A boys’ championship game to Nome with a final score of 63 to 61.
  • In the 3A girls’ championship, Sitka Wolves came in 4th after their final game against Bethel and Mt Edgecumbe Braves came in 5th after their final game against Monroe Catholic.  

Legislative Update

SB 140 and HB 193


It’s unlikely anyone missed it, but as a reminder the Governor chose to veto SB 140, the bill that held such promise for our schools, on March 14. The House and Senate met in joint session on March 18 to consider overriding the veto, but we fell short by one vote of overturning the veto. The sting of this is still with me, as so many schools, and collaterally, communities in HD 2 are in such dire straits. There are other ways we may be able to get some funding to school districts, but it will be in bits and pieces, and it is likely to come at the last minute. While my legislative career is still young, this defeat is the greatest disappointment I’ve experienced in the Legislature. Holding up our schools is holding up our communities, and with the veto and the failed override vote the Governor and Legislature have failed Alaskans.


On a positive note, the House was in session until after midnight Wednesday evening and managed to pass HB 193, INTERNET FOR SCHOOLS, known as the Broadband Assistance Grant (BAG) bill. The BAG bill provides a match of eight federal dollars for each state dollar invested in internet for schools in underserved areas. These funds will be very helpful in most of the 11 school districts in HD 2, and I hope the Senate will quickly pass the bill and the Governor will sign it into law prior to the March 27th deadline.


Operating Budget Update


The House Finance Committee released a new version of HB 268, the Operating Budget last week. This version of the budget incorporates some, but not all, of the Budget Subcommittee recommendations and other House Majority priorities. The committee will be taking up amendments from Finance Committee members later this week before moving the bill from the committee. It should be noted that the budget is far from final and if there are items in the budget you support or do not support, please let me know and continue to follow the budget process. 


Some items in the budget I am watching include:


  • A $2,272 Permanent Fund Dividend including a $444 bonus energy relief payment. Last year there was an agreement that a budget surplus from high oil prices would be split between an energy relief payment and deposit to the budget reserve. However, instead of splitting the surplus the House Finance Committee is proposing to direct all the surplus to the energy relief payment. I am sure this dividend amount will be scrutinized and I do not think it will be the final amount in the budget. Unfortunately, we cannot afford to pay this large of a dividend and pay for other essential state services.

  • A $680 one time increase to the BSA. While this is the same amount that was in SB 140, it would be a one-time increase and even if it makes it through the legislative process there is no guarantee that the Governor will not reduce the amount of funding. In addition, there is language in the budget that would remove this increase if a bill passes to increase the BSA. In other words, if we pass a bill to raise the BSA by $300, that will be the extent of the funding increase for school districts.

  • $5 million in funding for the Alyeska Reading Academy and Institute. With support from my colleagues, my amendment that cut this funding and moved it to Head Start passed. I have serious concerns about the Academy and believe this money could be better used elsewhere to support education. Thankfully the Head Start funds are still intact.

  • An increase of $3.7 million for the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault which supports the work of partner agencies around the state to reduce the rates of domestic violence and sexual assault and care for the victims. I offered an amendment in the Department of Public Safety Budget Subcommittee to add this funding, but it was voted down. I am glad it is in the latest version of the budget. 

  • While the Finance Committee Co-Chairs claim this budget has a $152 million surplus assuming the price of oil stays at the predicted level, there are a number of other items that still need to be added to the budget. I have heard the ferry system may need additional funds which I would support. In addition, it is likely that $40 million will need to be added to the budget to support the BAG program in the bill that just passed and $24 million will need to be added to the budget to continue a low income senior benefits program. We will also need funds for a Capital Budget and there are other bills working through the process as well as expenses that have not yet been accounted for with this budget.


Bills that Passed the House Last Week


HB 17, CONTRACEPTIVES COVERAGE:INSURE;MED ASSIST. "An Act relating to insurance coverage for contraceptives and related services; and relating to medical assistance coverage for contraceptives and related services."


HB 97, SELF-STORAGE UNITS: LIENS; SALES. “An Act relating to self-storage facilities for personal property, including vehicles and watercraft; distinguishing self-storage facility liens from another type of storage lien; and excluding self-storage liens from the treatment of certain unclaimed property."


HB 146, REGULATION OF FIREWORKS. "An Act relating to fireworks; repealing restrictions on the sale of fireworks; directing the Department of Public Safety to adopt fireworks regulations; and providing for an effective date."


HB 316, EMERG WIRELESS DEVICE LOCATION DISCLOSURE. "An Act relating to law enforcement requests for wireless device location information in emergencies; and providing for an effective date."


HB 238, CRIMINAL MISCHIEF 3RD DEGREE. "An Act relating to criminal mischief in the third degree; and providing for an effective date."


HB 193, INTERNET FOR SCHOOLS. "An Act relating to funding for Internet services for school districts; and providing for an effective date."

Great to see some HD 2 communities on stickers for sale at the Juneau Breeze In!

What You Can Do

Last Chance to Apply for your Permanent Fund Dividend, Participate in the Education Raffle, and/or Pick Click Give! 

Pick Click Give 

  • Be sure to consider using the Pick Click Give program when you file for your PFD to support nonprofit organizations doing important work in House District 2 and around the state. The program was created with legislation in 2008 and it allows Alaskans to donate a portion or all of their Permanent Fund Dividend to eligible charitable and educational organizations. In 2023, 22,690 donors pledged to donate $3,218,075. There are 37 organizations that are based in House District 2 communities. Consider donating a portion of your dividend to one or more of these organizations.  

Watch a Short Video on the Exciting Opportunities in Angoon

  • Watch "Angoon Youth on the Cusp of the Energy Transition" on you tube. This video was shared with me over the weekend and is one more example of the great work happening in schools and communities across HD 2. Congratulations to Angoon on finally receiving the funds to bring hydropower to their community!

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.

Share how you would Balance the State of Alaska Budget

  • Commonwealth North invites you to go to and suggest how the state should balance the budget. Your individual suggestions will be confidential, but the full results will be shared with the legislature. Commonwealth North was founded in 1979 by Governors Bill Egan and Walter Hickel. Commonwealth North’s mission is to educate Alaskans on significant public policy issues and assist in identifying effective solutions.  

 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.