To-do list for lawmakers

Dear state legislator,

Here’s your to-do list:

1. Pass a fully funded budget.

2. Expand Medicaid.

3. Pass Erin’s Law.

4. Go home and spend time with loved ones.


A bunch of mad Alaskans.

— Jayson P. Valentine Anchorage...

Alaska Dispatch News

As a fishery scientist who has worked for more than 20 years with trawl fishermen to reduce salmon, crab and halibut bycatch, I find the recent rhetoric around proposed North Pacific Fisheries Management Council changes to the Bering Sea halibut bycatch cap very frustrating. In particular, I hear media campaigns underwritten by environmental NGOs claiming, “It’s been 20 years since the halibut bycatch cap was last reduced,” implying that this has created a conservation issue...

John Gauvin

The disgruntlement over the failure of Alaska legislators to produce a budget and to complete their work within the voter-mandated 90-day session seems widespread, judging from open blogs on the various news services around the state, talk radio and letters to editors in the printed editions. Despite the Republican majority leaders’ spin that the problem is a Democrat-led minority that won’t do what it’s told by the majority, and that the minority is only interested in raises for union members, most of the opprobrium seems to be falling on the majority....

Steve Haycox
Hope check’s not in mail

If Roland Maw was able to provide residency in Alaska and Montana, then may we assume he didn’t receive a dividend check for five years — or was he able to manipulate the system?

While he may be a good appointee for the Alaska Board of Fisheries, are our executive and judicial branches of government missing something here?

— John C. Mascarella Wasilla

School boards ready to partner with Legislature

Education in Alaska is struggling to keep up with the demands placed on it by many entities. Increased graduation rates and lower dropout rates, additional electives, increased career and technical offerings, greater accountability, more efficiencies, additional choices — and the list continues...

Alaska Dispatch News

Throughout this past legislative session, into our extended session, through the first special session, and now into the second special session, the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition has held that it is important to fully fund education, expand Medicaid, honor employee contracts, and provide for essential state services. Our priorities reflect our values, which include supporting Alaska’s children and working families...

Rep. Sam Kito III

It is easy to blame the governor and Legislature for the budget woes. But the public has the real responsibility and has failed in their obligation to resolve the problem. As long as the public requires that somebody else pays for all the services they are demanding there will not be a solution to our budget dilemma. Alaskans have had more than a free ride for several generations. In fact we get paid to ride in the form of a Permanent Fund dividend. We pay no state income tax and the property and sales taxes that some communities levy are significantly offset by the PFD...

Jerry George

I pulled the darn suit coat over my shoulders and fastened the two buttons. Two buttons? Good thing this coat isn’t designed for warmth. The neck is open, and I don’t think wearing long handles under it would be quite correct. The last time I wore a suit was more than 10 years ago. One rarely needs formal wear to hunt moose or fish for grayling.

Dress isn’t the same as it was a decade ago. Instead of wearing holes in the knees of jeans while working, folks buy them from the store complete with the holes. It makes them look like they have been doing something...

John Schandelmeier

Things are heating up on the international climate talks front, with one event after another telling us how important it is for the world to reach a new climate treaty at the United Nations Paris meeting at the end of the year.

I have just written an article -- "Climate countdown: 200 days to key Paris meeting." While I conclude that there is no alternative to a new agreement, with time running out, my research has also confirmed my feeling that we are not going to see enough emissions cuts on the table to bring us in any way close to the 2-degree goal -- let alone the 1.5-degree Celsius (2.7 degree Fahrenheit) upper limit for global temperature rise which an increasing number of experts say is the safer figure...

Irene Quaile, Deutsche Welle

Alaska has struggled with difficulties grasping the complex realities of North Slope oil economics since 1977, when oil companies first pulled oil from the nation’s largest onshore oil reservoir at Prudhoe Bay. Due to our extreme dependence on that revenue, state budget and petroleum revenue issues have been closely linked. These problems continue today. As legislators argue during the special session called by the governor to deal with reduced revenues due to plunging global oil prices, conflicts over oil data create clouds of confusion that obscure important facts about North Slope petroleum economics...

Richard Fineberg
Wrong person for job of helping city homeless

Ethan Berkowitz selected Hillary Morgan to be his point person on the homeless. This reflects a lack of thought. Morgan has done more to increase the homeless population, and the pain they suffer, than any other person in Anchorage.

Morgan did this by instituting a 30-day in, 30-day out policy at the Brother Francis Shelter, a very destabilizing policy that hurt the homeless. Perhaps Morgan has learned from her mistake, and perhaps she has kept abreast of current thinking about how to solve the homeless problem: The answer is housing first. It appears to me that Berkowitz has given little thought to this matter and is repeating the public relations stunt of Mayor Dan Sullivan, who did nothing to solve the homeless problem...

Alaska Dispatch News