KTUU: Murkowski talks with lawmakers about federal funding

JUNEAU, Alaska -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski came to the state capital Thursday with some troubling news for Alaskans who rely on federal dollars.

She says money is becoming difficult to bring home as attitudes change in Washington.

Murkowksi addressed a joint session of the House and Senate in a visit she makes each legislative session to update everyone on what she's doing in Washington, where earmarks aren't what they used to be.

Very few U.S. senators, in their home states, would be able to recognize just about everyone in a room.

For Murkowski these reunions are a reminder of how much the state of Alaska relies on its delegation in Washington, DC.

The message of Murkowski's visit is that federal influence is increasing in places it should not.

"For heaven sakes, if we can't drill in the National Petroleum Reserve, an area that was specifically designated by Congress for oil and gas production, where can we drill?" she said.

Murkowski says Alaska is losing support where it needs it most.

"It's not just with the loss of Sen. Stevens. It is a very dramatically different environment in Washington, DC when it comes to earmarks specifically," she said.

Murkowski says some of her colleagues in Washington campaigned on a pledge that they will not ask for any earmarks.

But she says once Congress takes care of President Obama's budget, states should be allowed to take something home.

"I'm going to do my darnedest to make sure that Alaska gets its fair share of that pie," Murkowski said.

Murkowski says she will work to re-insert funds that the president cut from places like the Denali Commission, but she says in times like this, the more the state can provide for itself, the better off it will be.

Murkowski also says she will continue her fight to have Alaska removed from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sen. Mark Begich will be in Juneau March 31.

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Source: By Ted Land. Originally published by KTUU on February 18, 2010