From Sen. Bill Wielechowski <[email protected]>
Subject Senator Wielechowski's Mid-Summer Update 7.17.2020
Date July 17, 2020 6:01 PM
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July 17, 2020

Senator
Bill Wielechowski
State Capitol, Rm 9
Juneau, AK 99801
800-550-2435
907-465-2435
[email protected] [mailto:[email protected]]
1500 W Benson #315
Anchorage, AK 99503
907-269-0120
Contact My Staff
Sonja Kawasaki
Chief of Staff
Office: 907-465-2435
[email protected]
Nate Graham
Legislative Aide
Office: 907-269-0120
[email protected]
Erik Gunderson
Legislative Aide
Office: 907-269-0120
[email protected]
Contact Alaska's Federal Delegation
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Phone: 907-271-3735
Website [[link removed]]
Senator Dan Sullivan
Phone: 907-271-5915
Website [[link removed]]
Representative Don Young
Phone: 907-271-5950
Website [[link removed]]
Contact the Governor
Governor Dunleavy's Anchorage office may be reached at 269-7450, or e-mail him
at [email protected] [[link removed]]
Visit the state website
www.alaska.gov [[link removed]]
________________

Dear Friends & Neighbors,
In these unprecedented times, I've heard from many of you who are concerned about
our economy and jobs. I share your concerns, and that's why I believe the Alaska
legislature must reconvene as soon as possible to properly appropriate the federal
funds we have received to assist Alaskans in avoiding homelessness during the economic
crisis, and to establish sensible eligibility requirements for business grants to
help the widest number of small Alaskan businesses who are also most in need. The
legislature needs to also provide Alaskans the remainder of their 2020 PFDs as required
by statute and to re-establish moratoriums to help relieve Alaskans of the oppressive
financial burdens they're experiencing right now.
I believe that despite the pandemic-which is a rightful concern for many-there are
smart steps we can take and safety measures we can put in place to provide for a
special session that does not put legislative members at substantial risk. Such
steps could even include passing a resolution to meet telephonically and in video
conferencing until the dangers of COVID-19 dissipate.
It's time for us to get back to work for the people of Alaska. Failing to do so
is unacceptable and could create worse consequences for our state and for Alaskan
families.

Protecting our Economy and Jobs - Update on the AK CARES Program for Small Business
Relief
If you own a small business that has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,
harming your ability to meet operational costs such as payroll, rent or mortgage
payments, utilities costs, purchases of PPE, and reopening expenses, you may be
able to seek a state grant of assistance. Through the AK CARES program, grant amounts
from $5,000 to $100,000 may be available to you based on eligible expenses. The
grants are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. The program is run by
the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (DCCED). For more
information and to find the application link CLICK HERE [[link removed]]
My office has been told by DCCED that there will be changes to the eligibility requirements
from those posted on the website. In a recent legislative hearing, the DCCED Commissioner
testified that she planned to make the funding more widely available to small businesses
in the near future. DCCED also told my office to advise small businesses not to
apply if they don't meet currently listed criteria because their applications will
likely be rejected. However, you should still gather your documentation to be ready
to apply should your small business become eligible due to expansion of the qualifications.
If you are not eligible under current criteria, be sure to keep checking back to
see if DCCED has updated the requirements.
Please call my office if you need more information on the AK CARES program.
I never believed this grant program was properly addressed by an appropriations
bill of the legislature, and seeing DCCED unilaterally change many of the terms-long
after the governor's original proposed eligibility criteria-concerns me because
I don't know whether the changes will mean grants will be given out fairly or worse,
whether monied special interests will lobby to receive benefits from the grant program
at a loss to the true small businesses that make up the backbone of our state's
economy. I would like the legislature to reconvene to address the remaining funds
of AK CARES program.

Expiration of Moratoriums Providing Consumer Protections
During the final days of the last legislative session, we were able to pass a number
of essential consumer protections for the people of Alaska to ease the impacts of
the COVID-19 pandemic to their pocketbooks. As of June 30th, 2020, many of these
public protections that we were able to pass in Senate Bill 241 have now expired.
These protections included moratoriums on:

* Disconnections of Utilities
* Rental evictions
* Property foreclosures
* Vehicle repossessions
But the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reach record high case numbers in Alaska
and the social and economic hardships it's created continue. We as legislators must
ensure these essential protections continue until this crisis is over and Alaskans
can get back to work.
The 2020 PFD Issued July 1
On July 1, eligible Alaskans received their 2020 PFD. The PFD is traditionally issued
in October, but the Governor moved the pay date earlier to help Alaskans whose finances
are currently suffering from the pandemic situation.
While I supported an earlier payout, I do not think this goes far enough. The PFD
was a meager $992 this year; under the statutory formula, the PFD should have been
nearly $3,000. The PFD payout formula is still in statute, it is still the law,
and the legislature should abide by it-unless and until it changes the statute.
I can't think of a more important time in our recent history when providing Alaskans
their full PFD would be this critical.
If you did not receive your PFD this year due to processing problems, or have other
questions, please don't hesitate to contact me or my office for assistance.

Senator Wielechowski signing the Fair Share Act to help get it on the 2020 Ballot.
I Support Ballot Measure 1 - The Fair Share Act
Many of you have asked me about Ballot Measure 1. I support it 100%.
In 2014, the oil industry promised Alaskans more jobs, more revenue, more investment
and a growing PFD if we voted for huge tax cuts.
Four weeks after that election, BP laid off 475 Alaskans, and the oil industry has
since cut another 5,000 jobs - all while the percentage of nonresident workers has
increased. Investment at Prudhoe Bay dropped from $850 million per year to $250
million. Within the first six months of this new tax law, state revenue dropped
$1.6 billion - even though the price of oil remained the same. In fact, under this
new law we've actually had a NEGATIVE oil production tax rate these last five years
when factoring in oil tax credits. And the PFD has been slashed while ConocoPhillips
has dramatically increased their dividend to their shareholders.
Ballot Measure 1 is a citizens' initiative that would increase Alaska's share of
revenues from the production of our oil. Ballot Measure 1, the Fair Share Act,
would only increase taxes on three North Slope fields - which are some of the oil
industry's most profitable fields in the world.

Ballot Measure 1 increases the gross minimum production tax for these three fields
from 4% to 10%, and it eliminates a tax credit for major producers which has cost
the state a loss of $4.2 billion since their creation under SB 21 in just 2013.
If the Fair Share Act were in effect during Fiscal Year 2018, it would have increased
the state's share of production revenues by approximately $1.1 billion compared
to the current tax structure. With huge deficits and eating up our savings each
year, Alaska cannot afford to simply give away our resources, like the current tax
system does. Have questions about it? I'm happy to talk with you.
As always if you have any concerns please do not hesitate to contact my office at
(907) 269-0120 or simply reply to this email.
Kind Regards,
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Sen. Bill Wielechowski | State Capitol | 4th Avenue & Main Street | Juneau | AK | 99801
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