11.24.21

Three Murkowski Bills Pass Out of Energy and Natural Resources Committee

During a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee business meeting, three bills sponsored by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) were reported favorably out of committee, advancing to the full Senate for consideration.

S. 2524 amends the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to make clear that dividends from Settlement Trusts cannot be considered when determining eligibility for federal need-based programs for a Native or descendant of a Native who is 65 years or older, blind, or disabled.

“Unfortunately, when many Alaska Natives receive dividends from their Settlement Trusts, those payments can make them ineligible for certain federal assistance programs. This was never Congress’ intent when Settlement Trusts were established. My legislation makes a commonsense adjustment to ensure that Alaska Natives who are blind, disabled, or over age 65, are still eligible to apply for federal needs-based assistance.”

S.1354 designates the 16-mile long Alaska segment of the Chilkoot Trail as a National Historic Trail. The Chilkoot Trail is a 33-mile long hiking trail connecting Dyea, Alaska, to Lake Bennett, British Columbia, which served first as a Tlingit trade route and then was used during the gold rush. Senator Murkowski’s legislation also requires the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a feasibility study to determine if the proposed 500-mile Alaska Long Trail, which will connect Seward to Fairbanks, should become a National Scenic Trail.

S. 2648 reauthorizes the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (KMTA NHA). The KMTA NHA is the first and only NHA in Alaska and just one of 55 in the country. The KMTA NHA was created in the Omnibus Lands Act of 2009, a bill Senator Murkowski championed, with the intent to preserve the area’s history, and to promote local recreation and tourism in Southcentral Alaska. Without this legislation, the KMTA NHA will sunset in 2024. Senator Murkowski’s new bill provides an extension through 2036, ensuring that Alaska’s NHA remains eligible for federal support for years to come.

“Alaskans are fortunate to have trails like the Chilkoot National Historic Trail and the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area. The impacts they can have on our economy, public health, and well-being cannot be understated. I’m proud to lead legislation in support of them both,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m also encouraged that the committee got behind my bill requiring a feasibility study on whether to designate the Alaska Long Trail as a National Scenic Trail—something many Alaskans have supported for years. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance these bills through the Senate.”