Story Last modified at 9:22 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16, 2011
District 18's new Rep. Saddler shares impressions of new job
Editor's note: The Alaska Star asked our area's representatives and senators for their direct input on this year's legislative session. For the next six weeks, these public servants will share their impressions and work load with us. One senator or representative will be represented each week. We thank them for taking the time to communicate with their constituents during this very busy time. Meanwhile, we encourage readers to share their views, too. What do you think of the legislative process and the priorities for our community and state? We welcome your letters to the editor. Next week we hear from Sen. Cathy Giessel.
Greetings from the Capitol in Juneau. It's an honor to make my first report to you as State Representative for District 18, and I thank the Alaska Star for helping its readers keep in touch with their legislators.
The 27th Alaska State Legislature convened Jan. 18, as legislators swore an oath to defend the Constitution and to faithfully serve our constituents. It's a privilege to serve, and a responsibility I take very seriously.
As a member of the House Majority, I co-chair both the Joint Armed Services Committee, and the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs. These positions help me better serve Alaska's active duty, Guard and reserve personnel, as well as our veterans. Membership of the Community and Regional Affairs, Labor and Commerce, and Energy committees lets me address issues important to all Alaskans, including economic development, healthy businesses and affordable energy.
Mindful of the 90-day limit to session, we have gotten promptly to work and have already reviewed departments and budgets and begun work on bills. My priorities are your priorities, which you've made clear during and since the campaign. Among the most important are oil taxes, energy, and military and veterans issues.
First, oil taxes. We all know petroleum drives Alaska's economy. With North Slope oil production dropping each year, getting more oil into Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is "Job One." Many Alaskans believe our current Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share oil tax while raising much-needed state revenue discourages industry from investing to find and produce new oil. Gov. Sean Parnell and Rep. Mike Hawker have proposed bills to "fix ACES" by reducing tax rates at higher prices and making other adjustments. I am studying the issue and the bills to see what approach will do the most to encourage new oil production, while giving up no more state revenue than necessary.
Second, energy. While Southcentral Alaskans have enjoyed decades of relatively cheap Cook Inlet natural gas, that era is almost over. We simply have to have energy to keep our homes and businesses warm, and a large-diameter natural gas pipeline is one of our best options. Anchored by large clients for gas, either as LNG to international markets or as methane to the Lower 48, such a pipeline will mean stable energy and a healthy gas exploration industry for generations of Alaskans. Both the state-sponsored Alaska Gasline Inducement Act project, and ConocoPhillips/BP's Denali pipeline project have made tremendous progress. This summer we'll learn whether either has attracted paying customers, and under what conditions. That information will help me decide whether we should proceed under AGIA, or pursue another path to energy security. I am also impressed by the proposed Susitna hydroelectric dam, which could meet more than half of the Railbelt's electricity needs with safe, reliable and low-cost power for 100 years or more. The state also supports an impressive range of programs to encourage wind, geothermal, biomass and other alternative energy sources, and funds innovative energy efficiency weatherization and programs.
Finally, military and veterans issues. As Joint Armed Services chairman, I was proud to welcome Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins of the Alaskan Command and Alaska Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Tom Katkus to Juneau to brief lawmakers on how Alaska's military is serving our state and nation with distinction. To help veterans take full advantage of federal education and other benefits, I'm working to fund new veterans service officers at University of Alaska's Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses. I have also supported bills to help military spouses more easily work as professionals in Alaska, and to align state and federal policies regarding disposition of service members who die serving our nation. We owe a debt of gratitude to our military, and I want to do all I can for them and their families.
My job is to listen and respond to your concerns. Please keep in touch at Representative_Dan_Saddler@legis.state.ak.us, 907-465-3783, or (toll-free) 877-460-3783. To follow legislative action online, go to BASIS (www.legis.state.ak.us/basis\) or Gavel to Gavel (www.gavelalaska.org/watch-live\). And if you're in Juneau, please stop by Room 409 to visit.
My door is always open to my friends and constituents from District 18.
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, February 16, 2011.