Alaska State Legislator Update: Representative Dave Talerico
To continue our series visiting with legislators from our Interior Delegation, we spoke to Representative Dave Talerico of Healy who thinks they should go to Juneau for a special session to finish the capital budget.
He says while they were in recess, he had been staying busy.
“I traveled through Canada to bring my vehicle home, so we did fourteen days of quarantine which was a little tough for Grandma and [me] with seven grandkids living close by. We spoke through the door of the house for a couple of weeks. We have tried to stay very connected with people, been pretty busy with emails and phone calls. The Fairbanks Legislative Information Office has been closed for a while and everything, so a lot of our constituents have had to contact us either via the telephone or through email,” said Talerico.
Talerico says the legislative session was completely different for everyone who had been involved with the legislature in previous years, "Just due to the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything that we could normally do. There was probably a little disappointment on some folks' part, because everyone probably had a piece of what they considered to be very important legislation that was going to go by the wayside, and we could kind of see that coming as this all unfolded... that we were going to have to do something,” said Talerico.
He says everyone had a different opinion on what the legislature should do as the COVID-19 pandemic started in Alaska. “As we got more information about the pandemic and as more of this came out, I think the decision was made that we would need to wrap things up rather rapidly and get out of there. Understandably there were some people that were incredibly uncomfortable as this started to unfold, everybody is kind of at a different spot. It was such a shortened session and things were rushed a little bit... my opinion was we certainly didn’t evaluate things the way we normally would,” said Talerico.
Talerico thinks the legislature should probably go back in special session to finish the capital budget. He says he was also supportive of either an increase to the Permanent Fund Dividend, or some type of supplemental funds to go to the individuals here in the state.
“It didn’t make it through the cut. I would still like to have that discussion, and I’m guessing a lot of people wouldn’t. That is one of those things. We are facing really tough financial times, we are looking at difficult times... but down the road, we want to prepare for that for sure. We want to figure out how we can do something sustainable, but there is a fair portion of my constituents right now that are facing financially tough times today. They are having a rough time. I do not know what they are going to do as times go by,” said Talerico.
Talerico says he is impressed with how his constituents across the district have handled the situation with the pandemic. “Some folks... it’s been very tough on these folks. Their resiliency and independence is just one of the most amazing things I’ve seen. It’s difficult and there’s a lot of things they’re doing, but they’ve managed to continue to stride forward,” said Talerico.
He wants his constituents to take care of themselves. “You know everyone doesn’t agree on 'well we got this and we got that', but some of the guidelines that have been put out I think are critical. Social distancing I think is critical. I have been through the facemask argument with probably hundreds of people at this point, and being an old safety guy from the mining industry I can tell you that face masks do make a difference. Of course they don’t absolutely stop everything. If they did you would suffocate, you have to be able to breathe; but the theory behind it is they do help -- so if you can follow those guidelines and keep yourself healthy that’s what I think is most critical,” said Talerico.