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Bright, shiny objects: Obamacare sticker shock, busy week ahead in Legislature

OUTRAGEOUS-CARE: An Alaskan sent us the final tally that she and her husband would owe if they signed up for Obamacare.

The two own a business and buy their insurance on the Orwellian-named “Affordable Care Act” insurance market, which has one company left in Alaska. The couple has decided they cannot afford the coverage and are now without health insurance for the first time in their lives. Check out the bottom line in “Affordable” — it’s $38,733 a year out-of-pocket:

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HAVE AN OBAMACARE BILL TO SHARE? Send it to [email protected]


– When the Republican House Minority filed into House Finance Committee to sit in silent witness against a still-too-large budget, we had to ask: Has that ever been done before?

– Why was Rep. Dan Ortiz, at the beginning of the Education committee meeting he chairs, so quick to welcome the representatives from National Education Association into the meeting room? That would be like Rep. Geran Tarr, co-chair of House Resources, welcoming the lobbyist from the Wilderness Society. Oh wait…

– Will there be fireworks over relinquishing state sovereignty during the Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth’s Senate Judiciary appearance this week? The House Judiciary Committee forwarded her name, with Rep. David Eastman the lone vote against her…

– Are Sen. Donny and Willow Olson really expecting twins? (We actually know the answer: Yes, they are, according to the ultrasound.)

– What? Is it true Sen. David Wilson has a service dog in the Capitol?

– Who put together the fab new Andy Josephson spoof twitter handle with items like these?

GOOD TV:  Was it camera operator Cale Green’s idea to dress up Liz Raines, KTVA political reporter, who illustrated the history of the Alaska Education Tax, complete with era-appropriate costume and flinging of the hat? If so, great idea. Rep. Matt Claman wants to resurrect the tax, which could cost some Alaskans up to $8,500 a year if they’re making bank. We’re coveting the hat, Liz:

BAD TV: Who will tell Rep. Justin Parish to stop eating during House Resource Committee meetings? It makes for gross TV:

SENATE FINANCE PERMA-FUND BILLS GET PUBLIC TESTIMONY TODAY: Senate Finance is taking public testimony on the Permanent Fund restructuring bills: SB 70, SB 21, and SB 26 today (Monday) at 4 pm.

 SB 70 is offered by the Senate Finance Committee and would draw about 5.25 percent of the average market value from the Earnings Reserve Account of the Permanent Fund over five years. That yields $1.8 billion for state services, pays $1,000 in Permanent Fund dividends, and seems to have the support of the governor, according to his Commissioner of Revenue Randy Hoffbeck.

SB 21 is offered by Sen. Bert Stedman, and limits a draw to 4.5 percent of the average market value of the fund for the first five of the last six fiscal years. Stedman says this will allow the fund to grow, and would allocate 2.25 percent or more for dividends. That’s why this is called the 50-50 plan.

SB 26 is the governor’s plan to restructure how the Permanent Fund Earning Reserve Account works, and is similar to SB 70.

Those testifying on the bills must be signed up by 6 pm. Find your local Legislative Information Office here.

If you can’t get to an LIO, call in at 1-844-586-8085 or send an email to [email protected].

A comparison of the different budget fixes is posted at Alaska’s Future website.

SEN. MIKE DUNLEAVY HAS A QUESTION FOR YOU: Seriously, there’s one question on this survey, and you’re going to want to answer it like the State’s budget depends on it.

SENATE RESOURCES:  The governor’s Board of Game appointments will be heard in Senate Resources at 3:30 pm. today (Monday.)

That means it’s suit-and-tie day for Ted Spraker and Larry Van Daele. And Big Game Commercial Services Board appointee Adam Trombley is up, too.

At 3:30 pm Wednesday, Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth will update Senate Resources on how she’s doing on all those federal lawsuits she’s been dropping right and left.

On Friday AOGCC commissioners Hollis French and Dan Seamount are up for confirmation.

HOUSE OPERATING BUDGET: House Republicans, we are told, are offering over 100 amendments to the operating budget in House Finance to try to pare it down on the before it hits the House floor. Republicans were not allowed to offer them in the budget subcommittee so this is the first bite they’ll get of the apple. Will Rep. Paul Seaton rule them out of order?

JUNEAU SALES TAXES: Juneau dedicates part of its sales tax to different grant recipients, who compete for it annually. It would take a 23 percent tax to pay for all the requests if they were all funded, says Assembly Member Debbie White. In other words, a lot of those applicants are going to be disappointed.

SHORT-LISTED: We’re hearing that Joe Balash, chief of staff for Sen. Dan Sullivan, is on the list for a possible appointment in the Trump Administration as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Lands and Minerals. That’s huge, but that’s not all:

  • Steve Wackowski, former campaign manager for Lisa Murkowski, might be in the running for a special assistant position.
  • Tara Sweeney, longtime boss of external affairs at ASRC, is being considered for Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs.
  • Drue Pearce, former Alaska Senate president, is on the list for the Federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. She used to be the Federal Pipeline Coordinator under GW Bush.
  • Chat Padgett, Rep. Don Young’s state director, may get tapped for an Agriculture Department post based in Alaska.
  • And then there’s are openings for EPA District 10 agency chief, the U.S. Attorney for Alaska and the U.S. Marshall. No word on prospects for those.

ASRC HOSTS GOVERNOR: While in Washington, D.C. for the National Governors Association, Gov. Bill Walker and others in his posse attended a reception hosted by ASRC. Spotted were Mrs. Donna Walker, Communications Director Grace Jang, Chief of Staff Scott Kendall, DNR Commissioner Andy Mack, Fairbanks Office Manager Melissa Stepovich, Acting Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, and HSS Commissioner Valerie Davidson. So much for the travel ban.

North Slope Borough, ASRC, and the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission were all in the nation’s capital putting their wish lists on the desks of everyone who mattered.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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