Morning Headlamp – Speaker Chenault asks for patience on budget work & $1,500 for PFD this year

The waiting game. Alaska Dispatch News reported on the flurry of comments submitted to the Department of the Interior concerning Arctic OCS leases. Yesterday marked the final day for public submissions commenting on the draft plan. No lease sales can be added to the final plan, but the three planned sales could be dropped. In a flurry of public input this week, high-profile figures urged Interior officials to either keep the Arctic sales in place, or drop them altogether. In one letter, 16 high-ranking military veterans pointed to the strategic significance of the Arctic, urging the Obama administration to consider the region’s security needs and how private infrastructure investments could aid the White House, Defense Department and Coast Guard in terms of “cost, resources and expertise.” That echoes what Alaska’s congressional delegation said last month, as they urged the administration to keep the three lease sales in the program. “A renewed emphasis on offshore leasing can and must serve as the first step towards a workable regulatory regime for the Alaska OCS (outer continental shelf,” they wrote in a letter. A coalition of Alaska organizations that wrote to Interior officials Thursday, including AFL-CIO Alaska, the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and other pro-development groups also weighed in. Headlamp applauds all parties and Alaskans who submitted comments  in favor of Arctic leases. Now we play the waiting game the Department of the Interior evaluates the comments.

Working hard or…Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Chenault penned a commentary in the Alaska Dispatch News asking for patience and understanding as the legislature does what it can with the budget. According to Chenault, “It’s hard work to compromise and lower costs in a system that’s only designed to incrementally grow. Yet, we’ve done so and will continue to do so, delivering on the trust Alaskans have placed in us in sending us to Juneau. Hard work isn’t always pretty, and it’s usually frustrating. I share in your frustrations. We’re listening. We’re working.”

$1,500. Governor Bill Walker’s permanent fund bill proposal is “hanging by a thread.” The new version of Senate Bill 128, crafted by House Finance Committee co-chair Steve Thompson of Fairbanks, promises $1,500 dividends for this year and next year, compared to a guaranteed $1,000 for three years under the legislation that passed the Senate 14-5 last week. “All I have is five. It takes six,” Thompson said, referring to the number of finance committee members he needs to get the legislation to the floor. “This is the bill that would have helped Alaskans into the future. I’m very disappointed.”  Headlamp is disappointed that the finance co-chair didn’t work harder on reducing the size and scope of government so that Alaskans wouldn’t be burdened with taxes – that would have helped Alaskans into the future. 

Happy trails. Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan released a statement Thursday, through the state Republican Party, saying he has reconsidered and won’t challenge Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the August primary after all. The ex-mayor’s decision to withdraw remains a bit of a mystery, as he noted his two-week exploration uncovered “significant financial support available from individuals and organizations for conservative candidates like myself,” and polling showed “this primary could be extremely competitive.”


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First Reads

Interior Department hears conflicting cries over offshore Arctic drilling
Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, June 16, 2016

Speaker: Legislature has made cuts; sustainable budget is a work in progress
Alaska Dispatch News, Rep. Mike Chenault, June 16, 2016

Gov. Walker’s Permanent Fund bill faces defeat in House
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, June 16, 2016

Ex-Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan drops out of Senate race
Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, June 16, 2016