State Senator Scott Kawasaki provides update on legislative session

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Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 4:55 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Three weeks into its regular session, the Alaska State Legislature continues to hear bills affecting the future of the state.

Fairbanks-area Senator Scott Kawasaki sat down with the station to provide an update on how the session is going.

This year’s legislative session got off to a quicker start than last year, when the state House of Representatives took more than three weeks to organize.

According to Kawasaki, this year, “They’ve started right off, hitting it hard.”

Kawasaki said the Senate recently passed a bipartisan bill to put all of the state’s expenditures on an online checkbook for the public. “I think it speaks to transparency, the kind of transparency that we owe the public.”

Some election integrity bills on the roster, however, have Kawasaki concerned. “I think we need to make sure that we don’t step back, that the public does have an opportunity to vote at every chance that they want to, and it shouldn’t be made any harder than it already is.”

Later in the session, the legislature will look at where to spend billions of dollars in federal infrastructure funding coming to Alaska. “There’s some folks that want to spend it early, spend it immediately. There’s other folks that want to make sure that we save some of that for the future. Right now, with inflation being as high as it is, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to put so much money out all at once, to overheat the economy,” said Kawasaki.

First, the legislature will need to receive federal guidelines for how the money can be spent. According to Kawasaki, “That won’t come until maybe late March or early April, at which time we’re going to take up those bills. We’ll probably have to add some state money to be able to match the 90-10 or 80-20 matches to ensure that we get things like roads done.”

For the Fairbanks area, these decisions involve the Interior Delegation, a group of three senators and six representatives who cover the region. “We are working closely to make sure that there’s road funding. If there’s new airports, if there’s rural airports, remote airports that need fixing, we try and do that as a group in the legislature.”

Kawasaki, meanwhile, would also like to see infrastructure go to broadband access in the Interior. “We need to make sure that every place is wired, and there’s quite a bit of money in this federal infrastructure bill to make sure that that happens,” he said.

Those looking to stay updated on the legislature’s progress, including the bills and resolutions being considered, can find more information here.

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