Kodiak Daily Mirror: 117th Congress featured big wins for Kodiak

Earlier this month, the 117th Congress formally adjourned, marking the close of a remarkably productive legislative stretch for Alaska. The last Congress was one of the best for our state in recent memory, and the bipartisan bills we passed during it will produce lasting benefits for Kodiak.

Most significant is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which I played a lead role on. In just over a year, roughly $3 billion from it has been announced for Alaska. Those dollars are helping us build, expand, and modernize everything from roads, bridges, ports, and airports to our water, broadband, energy, and ferry systems. In doing so, they’re creating jobs, boosting our economy, and transforming lives.

Through the bipartisan infrastructure law, we’ve already secured investments in airports across the island, including Old Harbor, Larson Bay, Akhiok, Karluk, Port Lions, Ouzinkie, Trident Basin Airport, and Kodiak Municipal. The Kodiak Area Native Association (KANA) will receive funds to develop a coastal and freshwater monitoring program. And the investments I added to support ferry services should help us rebuild the Marine Highway System, allowing us to maintain and improve vital transportation options for Kodiak residents.

Most recently, the recent announcement of $285 million for the Alaska Marine Highway System will allow us to upgrade docks, modernize several vessels, replace an aging vessel, and design a new mainliner—restoring and improving service in many of our coastal communities.

We also secured significant funding for Coast Guard Base Kodiak: $130 million for fuel pier upgrades, $40 million for the fourth phase of the new housing project, and $40 million for a new child development center that will be located outside the tsunami zone.

In addition to the infrastructure bill, the budget packages we passed included hundreds of millions of dollars in standard allocations for Alaska. As part of that process, we also leveraged my position as a senior appropriator to directly fund nearly 200 projects across the state without adding to federal spending levels.

I worked with KANA to secure funding to study the impacts of harmful algal blooms and the City to help replace their largest wastewater lift station. The Alaska Research Consortium will be able to develop a refrigeration certificate training program for Alaska seafood processors. And the Island Trails Network will be able to remove, recycle, and recover debris along the coastline, including in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and numerous Alaska State Parks.

National security and care for service members, veterans, and their families has always been a top priority of mine. Over the past two years, as we bolstered our national defense, we also approved a more than seven percent pay raise for the military, special duty pay and significant quality-of-life benefits for those stationed in Alaska, and resources to address the crisis of soldier suicides head-on.

To honor our ironclad obligations to veterans, we passed the PACT Act, which will ensure healthcare access and treatment for all who are impacted by toxic exposures. We also focused on cutting down the delays in the approval of VA home loans. 

Knowing how important healthy fisheries are to Alaska, we chartered a federal research task force to get to the bottom of our alarming salmon declines. I also secured funding for additional research, indigenous co-management, surveys, fisheries management, marine debris removal, transboundary watershed monitoring, and related priorities.  

Legislation like my BLUE GLOBE Act will support the blue economy—allowing communities like Kodiak to invest in technology to better protect our oceans while also spurring economic development and growth in ocean-based jobs.

Finally, we took great care to address some of most acute sources of pain and suffering in our state. We reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, continued to prioritize the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and children, devoted real resources to reducing homelessness, and improved access to care for those experiencing mental and behavioral health issues.

We still have a hole in our hearts from the loss of Congressman Don Young, but honored his legacy by passing many of the bills he was working on, including three land conveyances that will help improve Alaska Native medical access. We also named one of the most active volcanoes in the Aleutians after him.

As the 118th Congress begins, I’m proud of what your congressional delegation accomplished over the last two years, and grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the state and people I love. Rest assured that for as long as I have the honor of being your Senator, I will be doing everything I can to deliver for you and for Alaska.

Source: Kodiak Daily Mirror