Sen. Murkowski's e-newsletter for the week of September 12

Recess Reflections

(Sen. Murkowski with Klawock City Manager Leslie Isaacs, and student carvers Sydney Isaacs and James Mills at the Woodworm Totem raising in Klawock. For more photos from Klawock click here)

The August recess brought me back home and gave me an opportunity to visit and hear from Alaskans from Klawock to Barrow, Kenai to Unalaska.  I spoke with veterans, educators, small business owners, health officials and our men and women in uniform. The issue that was continuously brought up to me was our nation’s financial future.  The Budget Control Act passed before the August recess, while not perfect, is the first step toward this country's financial stability.  Now my colleagues and I in Congress must enact specific reforms to move us further along that path.

In order to get America’s fiscal house in order, I think we must be realistic and put everything on the table: federal spending, entitlement reform and tax reform.  I hope that the joint committee established by the Budget Control Act takes into account the suggestions made by the “Gang of Six," a bipartisan group of Senators who put forward a comprehensive proposal to reduce the deficit by $3.6 trillion over ten years. 

In Washington, D.C. I will continue to fight for Alaska and ensure that spending cuts reductions are fair and not disproportionate, because as I continue to stress and educate my colleagues, Alaska is just a little bit different than the rest of the country. 

I also look forward to hearing from Alaskans throughout the fall to discuss our
country’s financial situation and ways we can improve our fiscal outlook.

Alaska Tour with Interior Secretary Salazar and Senator Reed

At the beginning of August, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and my colleague Senator Jack Reed from Rhode Island accompanied me to Alaska to see the many resources our state has to offer the nation in terms of both revenues and energy security. The tremendous richness of Alaska’s resources is not always well understood by those in Washington, so I believe it is extremely valuable for my colleagues to accompany me on a trip home.

During their visit, I took Secretary Salazar and Senator Reed to see oil facilities on the
North Slope, where we met with industry officials and local community leaders about the shared goal of producing our natural resources to the highest environmental standards. We also visited Denali National Park and Preserve and the Bureau of Land Management firefighting facilities in Fairbanks. I hope that allowing them a firsthand view of everything our state has to offer will help them understand the effect their policies and regulations have on Alaskans.

Navigable Waters Roundtable

In August, I asked state and federal officials to gather in Fairbanks for a roundtable panel discussion regarding possible solutions to the growing jurisdictional conflicts surrounding management of the state’s navigable waterways within federal lands in Alaska.

Alaskans are frustrated with the ongoing dispute about jurisdiction over the navigable
waters in our state, and continued uncertainty about who is in charge and how regulations will be enforced only serves to harm Alaskan residents.  The goal of this roundtable was to help the state and the federal government sort out these issues.  

The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which we know as ANILCA, makes most federal land within Alaska subject to different laws and regulations.  Section 103(c) of ANILCA provides that, “Only those lands within the boundaries of any conservation system unit which are public lands shall be deemed to be included as a portion of such unit.”  Along with many other Alaskans, I believe the intent of that provision is clear: Congress specifically excluded non-federal lands, including state-owned submerged lands and waterways, from the jurisdiction of the federal government. 

Discussion at the roundtable was respectful and productive, but certainly underscored the differences in views that are held by the federal agencies and State of Alaska. I remain committed to finding a solution that ensures Alaskans are able to travel on our state’s waterways without fear of heavy-handed federal action and respects our statehood compact and ANILCA.  This was only the initial step in the process of establishing the State of Alaska as the rightful owner of navigable waters within the State, but there is reason for optimism.

Dropout Prevention Bill

Days before school started, I had the opportunity to visit East High School during a teacher in-service day in Anchorage and introduce dropout prevention legislation that I have introduced in the Senate.  My bill, the “Early Intervention for Graduation Success Authorization Act,” would refocus dropout prevention as written in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act toward pre-school and elementary school students, rather than middle and high schoolers.

The bill would help schools identify children who begin to fall by the wayside as soon as possible and help them by providing individualized and effective interventions.  It will also help bring together community organizations, tribes, and Native organizations to help, so that schools can support high expectations for every student from the very beginning of their educations.

Photos From Around the State:

Sen. Murkowski with Sen. Jack Reed (RI) and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar getting a tour of a Canadair CL – 215 water scooper at the BLM Alaska Fire Center on Ft. Wainwright in Fairbanks (For more photos from Sen. Murkowski’s trip with Sen. Reed and Secretary Salazar, click here)


Sen. Murkowski ran into Ayla and Ariel Tweto, and Luke Hickerson, stars of the show “Flying Wild Alaska” on the Discovery Channel at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer (For more photos from the Alaska State Fair, click here)


Sen. Murkowski takes a moment to hula – hoop at the Alaska State Fair


Bernie Karl, owner of Chena Hot Springs Resort, showing Sen. Murkowski a Clean Biomass Generator at the Chena Hot Springs Renewable Energy Fair (For more photos from Chena Hot Springs Renewable Energy Fair click here)


Sen. Murkowski getting briefed about a new freezer dock in Unalaska (For more photos from Unalaska click here)


While in Unalaska, Sen. Murkowski stopped by the Senior Center for a cup of coffee and chatted with Seniors

Sen. Murkowski at Fronteras Spanish Immersion School in Wasilla, where she read to
Kindergarteners in Spanish (For more photos from Sen. Murkowski’s school visit
click here)


Sen. Murkowski visiting the VA Community Based Outreach Clinic in Mat – Su


To see more pictures from my August travels across the state, visit my flickr page.  You can also follow me on Twitter (@LisaMurkowski) and like my page on Facebook (SenLisaMurkowski) to get updates from me on what’s happening in Washington that matters to you.