From Sen. Tom Begich <[email protected]>
Subject Takin' Care of Business (Bachman–Turner Overdrive)
Date February 6, 2021 2:17 AM
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SUBSCRIBE ‌ ‌ Dear Friends and Neighbors, As of this writing, the Legislature is only partially organized as the House remains deadlocked in its choice of a Speaker and Majority and Minority organizations. The Senate also had difficulty organizing and did not reach finality until just before the Legislature convened on the 19th of January. Even though the House has not organized, the Senate has begun to work – holding hearings on bills, addressing the revenue shortfall and pandemic through the committee process, and conducting business on the Floor. I list some of my legislation with links in this e-newsletter, and I will be asking for your support for those. But the first step to moving Alaska forward, as constituent John Farleigh has often told me, is the need for a “Grand Bargain” between the Majorities and Minorities in both Houses of the Legislature and the Governor. I think we can get there. What does the Grand Bargain entail? New revenue including a broad-based tax (I prefer an income tax as a percentage of your federal income tax); A revised Dividend formula; Protection of the permanent fund with use for revenue of a portion of the market value of the fund annually; A General Obligation (GO) bond to address critical infrastructure and deferred maintenance needs while borrowing capital is inexpensive; and A spending cap that doesn’t cripple our future ability to serve our population, but ensures that we show the public we will practice restraint with the revenue we ask them to contribute to the well-being of the state. I don’t like all of these measures, but neither do those on the other side of the aisle. The key is to be comprehensive in our approach in a way that enlists the greatest level of support for the most economically sound package. As I have written before, if we do this right, we can stabilize our budget and its inevitable growth for at least a generation, giving us time to develop and generate new industry and approaches that enhance our Alaskan economy – from renewable energy to ecotourism, automated vehicles, and more. In the shadow of the pandemic we will conduct our work safely and I hope efficiently. The gavel has come down, it’s time to take care of business. Elected Minority Leader I was honored to be elected Minority Leader again by my fellow Democrats, though we plan to work with our colleagues in the Majority much as we have over the last two years – resisting drastic cuts to the budget, advocating against unsustainable revenue measures, and blocking bad policy. We were successful in securing positions of leadership, hearings for our legislation, and a strong voice in the budget process in the last Legislature. All signs are pointing to having that same level of impact for the next two years. Much can change between now and the end of this Legislature though, so I will be reaching out to you for your input on how best to meet the challenges in front of us as they arise. Stay safe and healthy, and join me in taking your vaccine when it is available! All my best, Senator Tom Begich Senate District J Bills to Watch This session our district is carrying several bills, in an effort to secure rights and equity for all our neighbors. Here are links to each where you can see regular updates, supporting documents, and recordings of hearings: Preparing Readers and Educating Kids Act, SB 8 Mandating Free University Tuition for Essential Workers, SB 10 Clarifying the Definition of Community Property in a Trust, SB 11 Increasing Oil and Gas Property Taxes to Generate State Revenue, SB 13 Requiring Equal Pay for all Genders, SB 16 Increasing Energy Efficiency in State Buildings, SB 17 Setting Limits on Class Sizes in Public Elementary Schools, SB 18 Designating April 24 as Vic Fischer and Jack Coghill Alaska Constitution Day, SB 28 You may choose to receive regular and timely text updates by messaging specific bill numbers (example "SB 8") to 559-245-2529. Senate Committees I'm honored to serve on six committees in this 32nd Legislature, all of which are vital to bills becoming laws this session. To find out when bills will be heard, click here:  Committee on Committees Education Health & Social Services Rules Ethics World Trade If at any point you wish to testify before any committee, please reach out to my office and we will help with logistics and coordinating preparation. Vaccination Update I strongly urge all eligible Alaskans to get the COVID-19 vaccination. Currently, Alaska has the highest vaccination rate in the United States. If we continue to vaccinate at this rate, our state has the greatest opportunity for the future health and well-being of all residents, ample opportunities for opening up to tourism this summer, and the best chances of returning our children to regular schooling next fall. For information on how and when you can get vaccinated, visit the Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 page here. Black History Month Hi Friends and Neighbors, Because it’s Black History Month I decided to look at Black history in Alaska. It turns out the first recorded African Americans came up here whaling. Some were runaway slaves. Some were free men fearful of “slave catchers” who preyed on free people in the North, kidnapping them and selling them in the South. Others chose the life at sea because skin color did less to determine how you were regarded. A Black man could aspire to any position, including commander. (William T. Shorey was specifically mentioned as reaching some fame as commander of the Emma F. Herriman.) While in the U.S., North and South, that was not the case before, during, or after the Civil War. I’m fond of reading about history. One of my elective classes in college was in prehistory but my interest in what went before me isn’t particularly focused so I never know what will catch my eye. I haven’t really studied Black history but it crops up in my interests from time to time, like some of the amazing African societies or looking a bit at Egypt. More recently I found that Black people lived in Scotland during King James IV and were treated with respect and not relegated to particular jobs or places to live. The same during the reign of the Tudors. When I started watching a popular Netflix series, Bridgerton, a historical fantasy whose characters include King George III and his Queen, the Queen in the show is not White nor are some of the noblemen or noblewomen. While a fantasy, there is a basis in fact that intermarriage in European royal houses could well have led to mixed blood, and this appeared to have little impact on attitudes towards those royals. So, what makes some in our society think that having less or more pigment in our skin makes a difference? And that is undeniable because “blind” studies show prison sentences, pay, loan practices, hiring, firing and more, vary greatly on the amount of pigment a person has. If there was no racial discrimination in the royal courts of King George or other predominately White societies, from where so many of our ancestors started, where do our prejudices come from? Did it come from making slaves of a people and then justifying that by saying slaves were less human than those who took them?  I may not have answers, but I do have questions. Stay safe, Kayla Contact Me! (907) 465-3704 (Juneau / session) (907) 269-0169 (Anchorage / interim) [email protected] ‌ ‌ Sen. Tom Begich | State Capitol Building, 120 4th St, Room 11, Juneau, AK 99801 Unsubscribe [email protected] Update Profile | Customer Contact Data Notice Sent by [email protected]
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