City Lobbyists update Homer City Council
During a special meeting Monday afternoon, the Homer City Council heard a report from its lobbying team of Reggie Joule and Christy Hess of J-and-H Consulting of Juneau. Joule is a former longtime Northwest Arctic state representative.
During their presentation, the pair briefed the council on who in government they’ve been in contact with regarding city projects and funding, including working with Sen. Gary Stevens on funding for the Homer Harbor expansion project.
Joule pointed out how difficult it’s been to accomplish anything in the Alaska Legislature with it so closely, and bitterly, divided.
“And when you get the kind of narrow margins, especially in theHouse of Representatives, it makes arriving at some of those decisions on really heavy policy issues very difficult to keep your majority together,” Joule said.
Mayor Ken Castner was impressed with the work from J-and-H Consulting, a firm the city of Homer shares with other entities.
“I was really fairly impressed by the report from our lobbyists. I think that they've done a really good job this year, kind of given the circumstances,” Castner said. “And I didn't know how kind of getting grouped in with a lot of other clients was going to work out for the city, but I think that they did a good job in keeping us apprised and, and as good a job as they could have done kind of given the circumstances of this legislature. So I wanted to say that.”
Currently, the legislature is in its third special session of the year, and is trying to set an amount for the Permanent Fund Dividend Check. Joule said the Dividend battles need to end.
“I think there will be a dividend. And, and beyond that, I'm not sure what to tell you because we need a lot more. You know, we need to be figuring out a way for revenues. We need to figure it out, you know, all these other pieces that are there. And then the Dividend, it can't be just a one-time fix,” Joule said. “We've been having this battle for too many years.”
Hess found some optimism in the work the legislature’s working group has done.
“The fiscal policy working group came out with some really good recommendations, which I believe I forwarded to you. And when they went in, everybody rolled their eyes and said they will, they won't be able to do anything,” Hess said. “And they actually came out with a rough outline and said, these are the things we need to do to have a fiscal plan, because we need a fiscal plan because we are no longer an oil state. We're an investment state.”
Monday, an amendment to pay out a $3,800 dividend was defeated in the state house, which is looking at a pay out of closer to $1,000.