Alaska State Legislator Update: Senator Click Bishop
To continue our series speaking with legislators from our Interior Delegation, we visited with Senator Click Bishop of Fairbanks, who says he thinks the legislative session went well.
“We were all dealing with the unknown, with COVID-19, and of course the fear of the unknown. You don’t know how it’s going to impact you, and people were wanting to get done there in the end, and get finished up, and rightly so. I mean everybody, I think, had justification for wanting to get done because we don’t know. We learn more about COVID-19 as every day goes forward, so I thought it went well,” said Bishop.
Two bills Bishop says he is proud of passing were Senate Bill 144 establishing June 7 as ‘Walter Harper Day,’ and Senate Bill 155 relating to exploration and mining rights. He says the mining rights bill was a three-year work in progress, “across two administrations working with the Department of Natural Resources, and the Alaska Miners Association, and lastly the Governor’s office. That was a good bill, it took a lot of work. There was a lot of people that put a lot of time into that bill. In a nutshell, that bill guarantees due process for Alaska’s mining families and/or junior mining companies, and big mining companies. That was a good bill, and it was widely supported,” said Bishop.
Now that the session is over, Bishop said he is working on home projects and working out at his cabin. “Eventually [gotta] get out and do some prospecting this summer. I have a summer prospecting season ahead of me and that will probably happen in another three weeks, so just trying to get caught up on home projects and work related projects,” said Bishop.
Bishop says he hopes the legislators go back to Juneau for a special session. “I hope we can go back and finish the capital budget and also to fix anything that’s not working as advertised as it applies to the CARES Act and funding. I would like to see us go back and I’m ready to do that when the time comes, absolutely,” said Bishop.
Bishop thinks when looking to the future they need to engage a group to look at a post oil economy. “When’s that going to happen? It might be 20, 30 years down the road. Our natural resources are so abundant here, and we don’t know what we have because we are 50 years behind the rest of the United States in knowing what we have for assets. We need to bolster up the mining industry,” said Bishop.
He says the economy needs diversification, and that they need to look at it going forward.
Bishop says he’s optimistic, and hopes that in a month from now, things will look a lot different, but that they need to still fix any problems with CARES Act funding.
“We’ve done the best we can to put placeholders in there if you will for a bridge for wages, and to help small businesses; but we need to continue to keep our eye on the ball, and what’s not working as we’re getting feedback, we need to fix that. You have to take care of the employee just as same as you take care of the employer, because the two are joined at the hip believe it or not. You got to have a place for those employees to go, so you can’t let these businesses completely fail,” said Bishop.