Lawmakers Get to Work

It’s been a rainy day here, but inside the state capitol things are looking a little brighter. With the state house leader now in place, work can now begin. Meanwhile, in the senate, committees are formed and meetings are underway. So work is really beginning in the 33rd alaska state legislature. 

Representative Cathy Tilton of Wasilla is settling into her new role as state Speaker of the House. Tilton was elected to lead the House after a dramatic couple of days of maneuvering and deal-making. The speaker believes it’s important for all sides to work together in order to benefit all Alaskans.

“My goal is to bring the House back to be working towards those issues we can agree to disagree on what that policy should look like, but we can do it in a manner that’s respectful…respecting ourselves, respecting each other, and respecting Alaska.”

Speaker Tilton believes the biggest job for the 33rd legislature will focus on money.

“For the last few years we’ve talked about the fiscal policy working group. We’ve talked about fiscal stability for the state of Alaska for some long-term stability, and that would include a spending cap revision for the state of Alaska. I think those are the kinds of issues that we’ll be talking about.”

Over in the senate, committees have been formed, including one focused on education. Lawmakers stress funding for education is a top priority this session.Ii sat down with democratic Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson from Anchorage. She’s introducing a bill that aims to get mental health curriculum into public schools.

“It really is important. There are so many kids in the school district who are struggling. They are really struggling and don’t want to talk to their parents about it. You know, and COVID didn’t help the situation, actually it made it worse. I mean, we as adults are having issues. I talk to people all the time, you can’t imagine how our students are feeling when they have issue and want to talk to somebody.”

Senate president, Gary Stevens, a Republican from Kodiak believes lawmakers can come together this session and that good legislation takes time.

“You don’t want to rush legislation. You want to make sure you hear from everybody, from the experts, from the public and make sure the decisions we make are well thought out and can stand the test of time.”