Nathaniel Herz- “Alaska House members are already so divided over the legislation to scale back last year’s big criminal justice reform overhaul that they can’t even agree on a schedule for debating it — let alone on what’s in it.”
“But the deal that was struck by the prior administration was not a good one,” Wielechowski said. “When the time came to strike a bargain, TransCanada bargained hard. They did what they were supposed to do for their shareholders, and they got a good deal. Unfortunately that deal came at the expense of the people of Alaska.”
While funding was approved for one more year, even that almost didn’t happen. East Anchorage Sen. Bill Wielechowski offered an amendment that would have cut operational funding entirely.In an interview this week, Wielechowski said he supports the plant, but doesn’t think the facility should be run by the state. His amendment to stop even the one-time funding was what he called a push to “accelerate” the process of pushing the slaughterhouse into private ownership.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, who has proposed putting the current dividend formula into the constitution, said he’s concerned with the direction the administration is heading. He said he represents a working-class district and for many of his constituents, the dividend is important. While acknowledging the need to address the deficit, he said other areas should be looked at, such as tax credits and the state’s oil tax structure.
Anchorage Democrat Sen. Bill Wielechowski encouraged analyzing the current credit structure, but said cuts and improvements need to be made.“If we don’t make cuts here we’re going to have to start levying taxes on Alaskans and going after the Permanent Fund and that’s not something I’m going to support,” Wielechowski said.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, said that as the potential cost for state participation goes up, the scrutiny goes up, and legislators will have to feel a certain degree of comfort with what they choose to do.
Anchorage Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski said he thought AOGA’s campaign was evidence that “the dynamic has changed pretty significantly.” Wielechowski, an outspoken critic of the state’s current oil tax program, said leaving the payments to oil companies at their current rate would force lawmakers to use the state’s Permanent Fund to balance the budget.
“I’ve certainly heard about this issue for years,” Wielechowski said. “But to sit in someone’s living room and hear about how it has personally devastated them, made me say ‘we have to do something.’” Public health officials here admit the state knows little about the volume of narcotic painkillers doctors are prescribing. But they do know prescription opioids like Oxycontin are “tightly linked” to a heroin epidemic that is killing people here at a rate 42 percent higher than the national average, said Jay Butler, the director of the state Division of Public Health.
Alaska Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) has again urged the Senate Republican Majority to quickly take up and pass a resolution aimed at enshrining the Permanent Fund Dividend into the Alaska Constitution. Senator Wielechowski filed this resolution back in April 2013. It was not heard in 2013 or 2014. He again filed it in January 2015, yet has still not received a single hearing.
But other lawmakers say Exxon Mobil is to blame for the delay, not the Governor.”I know we’ve had governors for years, decades trying to work collaboratively with Exxon Mobil to try and get this pipeline done and it just hasn’t worked and the only thing, unfortunately that hasn’t worked is force,” said Senator Bill Wielechowski.
The final Eklutna project involves cabin building. According to Tom Harrison, the superintendent of Chugach State Park, former state Sen. Bill Wielechowski several years ago sponsored a bill that secured $400,000 to construct public-use cabins in the park. Three have been built: two in the Bird Creek Campground and one on the south shore of Eklutna Lake.
Alaska legislators have adjourned the special session called by Gov. Bill Walker and immediately called their own session. During a floor session held May 21 at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office, Anchorage Democrat Sen. Bill Wielechowski requested the Legislature reconvene May 22 in Juneau, where the governor ordered the session be held. “As much as I enjoy being in my hometown, Mr. President (Senate President Kevin Meyer), this session violates the Alaska Constitution,” Wielechowski said.
As a small group of legislative leaders works on a final budget compromise here, Democrats and Gov. Bill Walker are urging lawmakers to use their spare time for hearings on expansion of the public Medicaid health care program and work on other pending legislation.
The Senate passed a House bill Saturday that repeals the scheduled 2.5 percent salary increase for the state’s 2,664 non-union employees. The Senate’s five minority Democrats and Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, voted against the bill.
Senate Republican Majority leaders on Tuesday sounded a lot like they were laying the groundwork to hold up a vote on House Bill 148, a Medicaid expansion and reform measure the governor introduced at their request.
There’s an old saying, “Don’t tell me what your values are. Show me what your budget is and I’ll tell you what your values are.” With a $3.5 billion state deficit, times are tight and significant cuts are in order. Unfortunately, the current budget proposal by the Republican state Senate has its priorities all wrong.
With the meter set to expire soon on the Legislature’s 90-day session, the big question around the state capitol: Is there enough time left to get a Medicaid expansion and reform bill passed? Or, will lawmakers be forced to go into overtime to finish work on a bill that seems to have popular support.
A March poll from Ivan Moore Research shows the governor had a 60 percent approval rating in March, with 65 percent support for Medicaid expansion, compared to about 22 percent in opposition.
After nearly 7 hours of debate, the Alaska Senate passed an operating budget by a 16-4 margin. The budget overall, including federal funding and designated spending, totals $9.3 billion.
Two legislators are making this session’s first attempt to make a big dent in Alaska’s $3.5 billion budget deficit following last week’s news that budget cuts alone would not solve the state’s financial problems.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski and Rep. Les Gara, both Anchorage Democrats, say the state needs to look first to its oil production tax. That tax is now anticipated to bring in $300 million in revenues next year while paying out $700 million in tax credits.
A troubling picture about the surge in Anchorage violence was painted for the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday.
The hearing came at the request of the Senate’s Anchorage minority members, but Sen. Lesil McGuire, chairman of the committee and an Anchorage Republican, scheduled it.
A bill to suspend the state’s longstanding policy of helping local municipalities pay for school construction bonds passed the Senate on Wednesday despite concerns it could undermine an already-in-progress school bond vote in Anchorage.
Anchorage Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, advocated for adopting the Senate Judiciary Committee version instead of the Finance version.
“Unfortunately what the Finance version does is it continues to treat marijuana like a controlled substance. That’s not what the people voted for when they went to the ballot,” he said. “They voted to regulate it like alcohol. … Are you regulating marijuana like alcohol when you treat it like a controlled substance?”
Alaska’s top military official, Adjutant General Col. Laurie Hummel, has tapped U.S. National Guard Lt. Forrest Dunbar to help overhaul the state’s code of military justice.
“May the best project win,” said Sen. Bill Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat who has been critical of the AKLNG project because the state doesn’t have a majority ownership.
“If the big line wins on the merits, because of low cost — if it’s in the best interest of Alaskans, that’s great,” Wielechowski said. “But if the smaller line is able to produce more economic benefit for the people of Alaska, more revenue for the people of Alaska, get it built in a shorter time, I think most Alaskans would agree that’s a good thing and we should pursue this route.”
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday discussed options that would penalize minors for underage possession or consumption marijuana, creating an opportunity to get educational or diversion classes, without creating a permanent public record of the crime.
A new state review suggests the three-member state commission overseeing some of Alaska’s most lucrative commercial fisheries is prone to inefficiency and ripe for overhaul, with a few employees who are paid but rarely show up at the office.
Alaska lawmakers are considering a new approach to decriminalizing and regulating marijuana.
That approach, which was introduced in a Senate Judiciary Committee bill Monday, would remove marijuana, hash and hash oil from the state’s controlled substance statutes. The 91-page bill would add the drug to laws addressing impairment and misconduct.
Brig. Gen. Leon “Mike” Bridges, who served as acting adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard after the ouster of a former leader, plans to retire on May 1 after he was not chosen to permanently take over the job.
Gov. Bill Walker’s nominee to the state Board of Fisheries says he can be impartial despite his past work on behalf of commercial fishermen, even as several lawmakers here said he’ll face a difficult confirmation battle.
State lawmakers are gearing up for a fight against the president of the United States.
On Sunday, the president proposed designating an additional 12 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness. Then on Tuesday, Obama expanded his ban oil and gas development in the Arctic by imposing new restrictions in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.
The Legislature’s first stab at a bill dealing with legalized marijuana was roundly criticized by lawmakers, state officials and legalization advocates during its first hearing on Monday.
A bill filed in Alaska late last week would ban “material support or resources” to the NSA. This would not only support efforts to turn off NSA’s water in Utah, but have practical effects on federal surveillance programs if passed.
Anchorage Democrats Rep. Chris Tuck and Sen. Bill Wielechowski are heading to Juneau with plans to beef up Alaska’s Uniform Code of Military Justice. The effort is intended to improve the culture within the Alaska National Guard, which came under heavy criticism in 2014 by federal investigators for leadership failures.
Senator Bill Wielechowski, a Democrat from Anchorage, has been a vocal critic of the state’s new oil tax structure. He says the law provides larger tax credits to oil companies as the price of oil declines.
A farmers market may be opening in Northeast Anchorage next summer.
After long-swirling chatter, an earnest push is underway to set up a market near Muldoon Road, spearheaded by community council members and the office of Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage. The first organizational meeting was held Thursday night at the Northeast Boys and Girls Club, and a follow-up meeting is being planned for early January.
Senator Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, didn’t sign the confidentiality pledge or attend the executive hearing. He said it didn’t seem appropriate to have a confidential meeting when most of the information should be available to the public.
Until Saturday afternoon, the Parnell administration was quietly preparing to close down a state-run job center in northeast Anchorage.
But the administration has now put the brakes on the Muldoon plan, after drawing strong criticism from local and state legislators and inquiries from the Alaska Dispatch News.
The Legislature’s Democrats made good on their promise to attempt Medicaid expansion in Alaska rolling out legislation Thursday to increase coverage for about 41,500 uninsured, low-income Alaskans and override a decision by Gov. Sean Parnell.
Last year, on the heels of a national pressure to regulate firearms, the Alaska Legislature passed legislation that bars the state or local governments from helping feds enforce new gun laws.
Alaskans young and old packed the municipal assembly chambers at Z.J. Loussac Public Library on Saturday to relay their concerns for the upcoming legislative session to Anchorage area lawmakers. The overwhelming majority of people who had the chance to speak argued for thawing an education funding freeze causing cuts in classrooms statewide, especially in Anchorage, home to Alaska’s largest school district.
Anchorage Democrat Sen. Bill Wielechowski defended Alaska’s oil production tax structure and criticized Republican Gov. Sean Parnell’s proposal to overhaul the system during the biweekly Native Issues Forum sponsored by the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.
While Sen. Bill Wielechowski appeared at the Noel Wien Library Monday evening to offer his views on oil taxes, someone was sneaking around the parking lot outside, leaving a yellow piece of paper headlined “Debunking Senator Wielechowski’s Myth’s” on every windshield.
Call it the oil tax smackdown. Two powerhouse orators debated the governor’s bill for a major reduction in oil production taxes.
Debate over oil taxes are continuing in Juneau, as the Senate committee on TAPS throughput is hearing Governor Sean Parnell’s oil tax proposal. State Senator Bill Wielechowski of Anchorage has been an outspoken opponent of the Governor’s plan, and was a guest on KSRM’s “Sound Off”
Gov. Sean Parnell has thus far decline state Sen. Bill Wielechowski’s challenge to a debate over oil taxes in Alaska. He should reconsider for three good reasons.
Through radio talk-show how Mike Porcaro has offered an enture two-hour program as a venue, Gov. Sean Parnell is having nothing to do with a denate on oil taxes proposed by Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski.
Gov. Sean Parnell’s oil tax proposal would cost the state $900 million next year, a new analysis shows. The analysis was attached as a fiscal note to his tax-cut plan, which was introduced in the legislature on Wednesday.
An Anchorage Senator said Wednesday he plans to introduce legislation allowing active-duty military members who have maintained residency while living outside Aalska for more than 10 years to remain eligible for Permanent Fund dividends.
Alaska’s ACES oil tax, under attack by Gov. Sean Parnell and the oil industry, is fair, competitive, and why Alaska has a healthy budget surplus, said Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage. Passed in 2007 under the governorship of Sara Palin, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share tax significantly raised the state’s oil severance tax.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, is defending Alaska’s oil and gas jobs as being on the rise, while the governor states this is not the case. Wielechowski says those industry jobs are near an all0time high, citing statistics from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development that show oil and gas workforce has a preliminary annual employment average of 12,800 in 2010.
Every Alaskan knows the feeling. You see a commercial on TV advertising a great new deal, but in small print at the bottom of the screen, “except in Alaska or Hawaii.” Many Alaskans accept this as cost of living in our great state. But there is one area where this should apply and that’s our gasoline prices.
The question of how to increase throughput in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) has recently dominated the conversation across the state. I believe we should take a closer look at building a gas to liquids (GTL) plant on the North Slope to help solve this problem.