Senator Murkowski's E-newsletter for the week of February 15, 2012

AK Delegation Stands United Against F-16 Relocation at Eielson AFB

The recently-announced plan by the U.S. Air Force to relocate the F-16 Aggressor Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage has left many Alaskans with an uneasy feeling and flashbacks to the fight we had back in 2005.  Late last week, I, along with the rest of the Alaska delegation, met with U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz to hear the reasoning behind the Air Force’s plan.

It was good to hear General Schwartz say he believes America still needs Eielson Air Force Base, and that it should play a significant role as America’s military shifts its future focus to the Pacific Rim.

But I still feel like Alaskans and I have seen this movie before – and we saw how it ended in 2005.  Seven years ago, the Pentagon projected dramatically unrealistic savings at Eielson as they mapped out their BRAC attempt but after we stepped up and showed them the numbers and the reality on the ground, the commission decided against taking that action. I cannot see how the math has changed in less than a decade.

As this process continues throughout the coming months, know that I remain committed to doing whatever I can here in the U.S. Senate to ensure that the F-16’s at Eielson AFB remain intact.  This weekend, I will be meeting with Gen. Schwartz and Fairbanks community leaders to discuss in further detail the Air Force’s proposed measures.

Immediately before sitting down with Gen. Schwartz, I shared with Alaska what I was looking to hear.

Senate Passes Important Legislation Good For Alaska

Over the past two weeks, two major pieces of legislation have passed in the U.S. Senate that I supported; the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, and the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act. 

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act, gives needed certainty to Alaska’s aviation industry and a 21st century infrastructure to the nation’s airways.  It contains several beneficial programs to Alaska including Essential Air Service to 44 remote locations throughout Alaska, funding for the Airport Improvement Program – which funds construction and improvement projects, an Alaska exemption for oxygen canisters transported on passenger air service, and funding for a Next Generation Air Traffic Control System that will make our skies safer and planes more efficient and cost effective.

I cosponsored the STOCK Act which is legislation that adds teeth to Congress’ rules about insider trading, which prohibit members of Congress and their staff from using insider information for personal benefit – and is an important step as Congress attempts to rebuild and regain some of the trust that voters have lost in government.  It brings accountability and transparency into the 21st century.  Under the legislation, financial disclosures will be online when we file them, not the current hard copy that gets hand-delivered to the Senate. 

Murkowski Introduces Bipartisan Recreational Housing and Fishing Bill

I recently introduced legislation with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., to ensure the rights of recreational hunters, fishermen and shooters on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service lands are protected.

The aim of this legislation is to preserve and enhance the traditions of hunting and fishing that are so important to so many in our state. This bill will require federal agencies to cooperate with state fish and wildlife agencies regarding resident wildlife on BLM and Forest Service lands. 

The Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act protects the public right to engage in recreational hunting, fishing and shooting on federal lands. It requires that BLM and Forest Service managed lands be open to recreational hunting, fishing and shooting unless specifically closed by the agencies. The bill also supports Executive Order 13443, which directs federal land management agencies to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting on federal lands, and ensures sound scientific management of wildlife and their habitat.

Murkowski Talks Energy on Fox Business News

It's Coffee Time in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Murkowski with Alaskans from Old Harbor during a Constituent Coffee last year.

For those Alaskans visiting DC, spring is generally the busiest time.  If you are in town during March, please feel free to check my website for my upcoming constituent coffees.  We are currently planning to have three in March - Wednesday, March 7th, 14th, and 28th.  Dependent on the Senate schedule, we may have some in April as well.  I always enjoy having the opportunity to meet with my constituents in an informal setting and hear what they have to say!

Sen. Murkowski met with Mark Teixeira, 1st Baseman of the New York Yankees, to discuss ways to improve afterschool programs nationwide.  Teixeira talked about his partnership with the Harlem RBI program, an afterschool program which benefits kids of all ages in Harlem, New York.  To watch an interview with Teixeira, click here.

Sen. Murkowski sat down with Special Olympics Alaska athlete Pearl Weaver of Palmer, along with President/CEO Jim Balamaci of Special Olympics Alaska to discuss SOA efforts in Alaska.  To watch the latest edition of the Alaska Report, click here.

Congrats to the National History Day in Alaska (NHDA), the Alaska affiliate of National History Day.  National History Day was a recent winner of the 2011 National Humanities Medal from President Obama.  Pictured above is Sen. Murkowski with Alaska National History Day students this past summer in Washington, D.C.

Sen.  Murkowski met with Megan Dauphinee, of Wasilla, and congratulated her after her first-prize finish in the 2012 National Job Corps Student Oratory Competition held in Washington, D.C.  Participants shared their life stories, and Megan told how her professional aspirations were boosted by Job Corps after a difficult childhood – winning a $1,500 scholarship along with the recognition before a crowd of 300.

Sens. Murkowski and Barrasso (R-WY) chat with former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan outside the U.S. Capitol.

Sen.  Murkowski met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano to discuss a variety of issues important to Alaska, including the need for additional icebreakers for the U.S. Coast Guard.