Legislative Update with Rep. Louise Stutes

Jul 26, 2019

District 32 Representative Louise Stutes of Kodiak
Credit Office of Rep. Stutes

Alaska State Representative Louise Stutes says that reversing budget cuts to the Alaska Marine Highway System is her priority this weekend. She spoke with KBBI’s Kathleen Gustafson for this Legislative Update. Representative Stutes’ constituents in Seldovia and Halibut Cove can contact her at rep.louise.stutes@akleg.gov. or call her office at (907) 465-3271. To join in Monday’s teleconference, the toll-free number to call is: 1 (515) 604-9000  - Access Code 279613.

KBBI:
Representative Stutes, you're a member of the House committee for transportation and public facilities, and I know you and other committee members are traveling to Cordova this weekend, Saturday, for a listening session/town meeting. What are the goals for that meeting?
Stutes:
 To express to the Department of Transportation just how it's going to affect their lives and their businesses and their whole lifestyle going for six months with no ferry service.
KBBI:
 And will people in Cordova have an opportunity to address you all?

Stutes:
Absolutely,that's the intent of this meeting.

KBBI:
 So it's the transportation committee.

Stutes:
 We intend to have a quorum.

KBBI:
So coming up this Monday the Alaska House of Representatives is going to be holding their third and final vote on legislation funding the capital budget. And your intention is to work to pass that legislation and reverse the sweep, correct?

Stutes:
 On Monday is the vote on the funding of the items that were reversed from the governor's veto. We reversed about 75% of his vetoed items in the operating budget, but they have not been funded and they will not be funded unless we pass the reverse sweep and we need a two-thirds vote, just 30 members of the House, in order for it to pass. We've got a few members that need a little coaxing but the majority in the house is a hundred percent in support.

KBBI:
You must be hearing from your constituents because District 32 is Kodiak where you live, but also you're the representative for Halibut Cove and Seldovia. They're definitely affected by the budget cuts to the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Stutes:
 I was able to pass an amendment to the operating budget of 5 million additional dollars specifically for the Alaska Marine Highway System, and I had a conversation with DOT in relation to these communities which were going without service for an extended period of time and that that needed to be addressed. Of course, this strike you know, will affect those dollars. So we're hoping that this strike can be resolved with the state and possibly even go back to work today after their meeting. I don't know that's going to be the case as I'm sure you might imagine the legislature is not involved in the negotiations with any of the unions and so I'm not privy to that information. But I know that it affects Seldovia just as it does Cordova and Yakutat and Kodiak and it's just not acceptable. As I'm sure you're aware, under the new ferry schedule, just speaking of Seldovia, they're scheduled to have no ferry service from January 12 all the way through the last day of April. I mean, that's just outrageous. I certainly would love to hear from Seldovia  so I can pass those comments on. It's really important that DOT get the message loud and clear. On Monday, DOT is holding a teleconference to consider adjustment to our ferry schedule and that will be Monday, July 29th at 1:30.
I want to let Seldovians know. Hey, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and I can use some more squeaking.

KBBI:
Okay, thank you.

Stutes:

I appreciate the opportunity.

KBBI:
Sure thing, bye.