Senator Murkowski - eNewsletter 02-27-09

Presidents Day Recess in Alaska

Senator Murkowski delivers her annual address to the Alaska State Legislature.

Over the Presidents Day recess I delivered my annual speech to the Alaska Legislature. This is the seventh annual address I have delivered to the Legislature and it is a highlight of my year to return to the Alaska House chamber where my career as a legislator began.

By now, you’ve probably heard about my proposal which I introduced today to develop the energy reserves beneath ANWR by drilling directionally from state lands and from state waters outside the boundary of the coastal plain.

You’ve probably also heard about my plea that we settle our differences over how the natural gas pipeline project will proceed by coming together around a single gasline project and building consensus on the fiscal terms to commence large scale gas production from North Slope fields.

We also discussed the need to ensure that our Alaska communities have access to affordable energy now and in the future. The railbelt needs access to North Slope natural gas through the construction of a bullet line and we need to step up our investments in renewable energy to ensure that rural Alaska has a sustainable energy future.

I also used my speech to advocate for increased contracting opportunities for businesses owned by disabled veterans and to endorse efforts to secure state and federal funding for a veterans cemetery in Fairbanks.

You can read my 2009 address to the Alaska Legislature here.

Senator Murkowski and Governor Palin exit the Governor’s office following their meeting. Photo Credit: Associated Press.

Following my address to the Legislature, I held a meeting with Governor Sarah Palin. We had a productive conversation on issues impacting Alaska such as energy and the recently passed economic stimulus. I was pleased to be able to update her on the work being done for Alaska in Washington.

I was also able to meet and visit with the women who serve Alaska in the state Legislature during my visit to Juneau.

Visiting Schools in Ketchikan and Sitka

Senator Murkowski speaks to a government class at Sitka High School.

Senator Murkowski poses with students from Ketchikan High School.

While home, I was able to visit with students at high schools in both Ketchikan and Sitka. I always enjoy being able to meet with up and coming leaders and these students were especially impressive. At both high schools, we had good conversations on issues ranging from the recent passage of the economic stimulus package and causes of the economic recession to drilling in ANWR.  I also asked for their thoughts and ideas on how we could lessen the dropout rate in Alaska and their responses were informative. I will certainly keep their ideas in mind when facing education issues in the Senate. I was also pleased to present both schools with a flag that had been flown over the United States Capitol.

Providing Assistance to Prevent Youth Suicides

Senator Murkowski presents the Alaska Division of Behavioral Health with a $1.5 million federal grant. Pictured with Senator Murkowski are (Left to Right): Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Hogan, SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick, and Juneau resident Ron King.

While in Juneau, I presented the Alaska Division of Behavioral Health with a $1.5 million, three-year grant from the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This grant will be used to advance youth suicide prevention efforts through early intervention strategies for Alaskans age 14-24. Alaska’s statistics on youth suicide are among the highest in the world: Youth age 15–24 committed suicide at three times the national average in 2005 — nearly 30 deaths per 100,000 people.

At this check presentation, I was able to meet Mr. Ron King who tragically lost his son to suicide in 1993. He is working on the Juneau Community Suicide Prevention Task Force to prevent youth suicides through a program that screens all of Juneau’s high school students and provides mental health professional intervention when needed. Through screening programs and effective partnerships with the government, communities and schools, we can work together to reduce the tragedy of suicide.

Welcoming a New Consulate for Mexico

Senator Murkowski and Senator Begich are greeted by Jose Luis Cuevas (left) who has been named as the Consul of Mexico in Alaska.

When I was visiting Anchorage, I joined Senator Begich in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Mexican Consulate.  This is the 49th consulate office opened in the United States, and Jose Luis Cuevas is the new Consul.  He has a 38-year diplomatic career, and has served the Mexican government throughout the world.  The office will employ 10 people and will assist Alaska’s growing population of people of Mexican descent and tourists with visas, birth certificates and citizenship issues.

Gaining Recognition from Alaskan Sportsmen

During my visit, I was humbled to be honored as the Conservation Legislator of the Year by the Alaska Chapter of the Safari Club International at their annual banquet.  I appreciate this recognition and will continue to serve and protect Alaskan hunting interests. Photo Credit: Scott Minor.

Coffee with the Senator

Join me for coffee when you visit Washington!

While I wish I could be in Alaska more often, I do enjoy meeting with visiting Alaskans at my office in Washington. During the spring when the Senate is in session, I host a Wednesday coffee for visiting Alaskans. The next coffees will be held March 4, March 11 and March 18. If you would like to attend one of my coffee meetings, please visit my website for more details.