Sen. Murkowski eNewsletter 12/02/2008

Capitol Visitors Center opens this week

Sen. Murkowski with the acting Architect of the Capitol, Stephen Ayers, inside the Capitol Visitors Center, standing before a statue of Ernest Gruening, one of the first two senators from Alaska.

The long-awaited Capitol Visitor Center, the newest addition to the United States Capitol, opened to the public this week, following six years of construction. Three million visitors are expected to come through the Visitor Center each year, so when you visit from Alaska, this is where you will start your tour of the Capitol.

The new Visitor Center greatly improves upon the current visitor experience at the Capitol by providing better service and amenities, including a restaurant and two gift shops, for the many guests. Once inside, visitors can see an 11-foot-tall touchable replica of the Capitol dome, and two huge skylights offer majestic views of the actual dome. Guests will also learn about the Senate and the House of Representatives, and can view historic artifacts from around the nation. Twenty-four statues from the National Statuary Hall Collection are on display in the Visitor Center, and guests from Alaska will want to keep a special lookout for the statue of Alaska’s own former Senator Ernest Gruening.

If you are planning a trip to Washington, contact my office at www.murkowski.senate.gov  to book a tour of the Capitol, or go directly to the Visitor Center website at http://www.aoc.gov/cvc/. The Center strongly recommends booking tours in advance, although there are a limited number of same-day passes available on site.


Sen. Murkowski opens application period for 2009 summer intern program

2008 First Intern Class: Lindsey Haas (Petersberg), Haleigh Zueger (Unalaska), Kristen Coan (Palmer), Kelsey Eagle (Sitka), Alexis Kress (Wasilla), Samantha Novak (Anchorage) and Intern Coordinator Rochelle Hanscom (Fairbanks).Second row: Intern Coordinator Brian Orsquo;leary (Kodiak), Wes Stephl (Kenai), Cameron Piscoya (Nome), Nychele Fischetti (Chugiak) and Taryn Moore (Anchorage).

2008 Second Intern Class: Cierra Hahn (Skagway) Heather Kelahan (Palmer) Madison Dapcevich (Sitka) Heidi Shepard (Fairbanks) Mari Freitag (Ketchikan) Kathryn Bowerman (Bethel) Donald Neal (Kotzebue) Erica Harris (Skagway) Eric Basler (Anchorage) Irene Park (Anchorage).

I have begun accepting applications for my high school summer internship program. Each year, a total of 20 graduating high school seniors from all areas of Alaska travel to Washington to participate in one of two, month-long internship sessions. Each day, two of the interns “shadow” me through my Senate meetings and functions. Interns also assist me and my staff in a variety of constituent services and legislative duties. By the end of the session, interns will have gained an insight into the workings of a U.S. Senate office and how the legislative process works. The first session for the summer of 2009 will run from June 1 to June 26, and the second session will run from July 6 to July 31. Transportation and housing will be coordinated by my office, but interns will be responsible for the cost. My office will provide a stipend to help defray the costs.

High school students are encouraged to apply online in the Student Connection section at www.murkowski.senate.gov. Applications and internship information will also be made available to all Alaskan high school counseling offices.  Applications are due March 13, 2009.

I also have a number of opportunities for college students to work full or part-time in my Washington, D.C., office.  To apply for these opportunities students should fax a resume, cover letter and letter of recommendation to my office at 202.224.5301.

White House Fellowship applications now being accepted

The White House has announced that The President’s Commission on White House Fellowships is now accepting applications for the 2009 – 2010 Class of Fellows. Applications are available at http://whitehouse.gov/fellows/about/apply.html and must be submitted electronically by February 1, 2009.

The White House Fellows Program is America's most prestigious program for leadership and public service. Founded in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the program offers exceptional young men and women first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the Federal government.

Fellows typically spend one year working as full-time, paid special assistants to senior White House Staff, the Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries, and other top-ranking government officials. Fellows also participate in an Education Program consisting of roundtable discussions with renowned leaders from the private and public sectors, and trips to study U.S. policy in action both domestically and internationally. More information about the program is available at www.whitehouse.gov/fellows.

Sen. Murkowski visits "Keep the Promise" booth at AFN

I enjoyed visiting with Sarah Lukin, Alutiiq, Harri Kramer, NANA, and Janissa Johnson, Alutiiq, at the “Keep the Promise” booth at the recent AFN Convention. “Keep the Promise” is a project to educate members of Congress about the positive impacts that Alaska Native Corporation 8(a) businesses have on Alaska Native people. “Keep the Promise” collected 1,200 postcards to send to members of Congress in the Lower 48 during the AFN Convention.

Senator Murkowski urges Alaskans to prepare for the conversion to digital television

Starting at midnight on February 17, 2009, full-power television stations will no longer broadcast analog signals. This means that viewers who use rabbit ears or an antenna will no longer be able to receive a signal.  Viewers will have to purchase a converter box for analog signals to receive programming after that date if their TV does not already have a digital tuner. Many newer TVs already have built in digital tuners.

The TV Converter Box Coupon Program allows each household to receive up to two $40 coupons to offset the cost of the converter box.   Information on how to apply for a coupon can be found at https://www.dtv2009.gov/.   In Alaska, converter boxes can be purchased at Target, Fred Meyer, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Sears, Office Depot and Radio Shack.   A complete list of stores, online and telephone retailers can be found at https://www.dtv2009.gov/VendorSearch.aspx.

VA Increases Mileage Reimbursement Rates

The Veterans Administration has raised its mileage reimbursement rate paid to travel-eligible veterans by 13 cents. Effective November 17, 2008, the rate jumped to 41.5 cents a mile. The change was directed by Congress in the VA’s 2009 appropriations bill. On January 9, 2009, the deductibles that travel- eligible veterans must incur before seeking travel reimbursement will decrease to $3 for a one way trip and $6 for a round trip with a cap of $18 per calendar month.

Getting our Alaska veterans care close to home so they don’t have to seek travel reimbursement is a top priority.  In that regard, the VA Anchorage Regional Office has announced a March 2009 target opening date for a new 3,500 square foot Community Based Outpatient Clinic in the Mat-Su Valley.