Governor Bill "Gov, Gov" Walker Updates Alaskans in August 2018 - P.O.W. Report

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Governor Bill "Gov, Gov" Walker Updates Alaskans in August 2018

Governor's Note

Fellow Alaskan -
It was a true summer week in Alaska. From meetings with fishermen in the Kenai, to attending union picnics in Fairbanks, to celebrating the original homesteaders in Soldotna, we criss-crossed the state this week to meet, talk to, and learn from an incredible diversity of Alaskans.

We signed a few important bills into law this week, including Senate Bill 204 (which helps our armed service members by allowing businesses to establish hiring preferences for veterans) and House Bill 374 (which helps Alaskans save money by creating new finance mechanisms for energy efficiency projects).

We got good news from the private sector: ConocoPhillips has had several big announcements this month stemming from a really successful season exploring on the North Slope. They acquired new assets from BP in the Kuparak region, doubled the estimated barrels of oil they've found at the Willow Prospect in the National Petroleum Reserve, and hailed an "exploration renaissance" on the North Slope.

But it's more than just one company. The Department of Economic Development released a report on Alaskans' economic confidence, which has been rising for the last year and half. Personal financial confidence is the highest it's been since 2010. We're continuing to see good results from the hard work we've put in to steer Alaska onto more stable fiscal ground.

And in keeping with the theme of a stronger future for Alaska, in the coming week, we're hosting two big climate-related gatherings. On Monday, 25 young Alaskans will gather in Anchorage to dialogue on Alaska’s climate future, and the opportunities and challenges it represents. On Tuesday, the Climate Action Leadership Team will meet for the last time before their September deadline to submit Alaska's brand new draft climate policy, which they've been working on for eight months. We're looking forward to seeing them in person, and seeing the important work they've put in.

It's hard to believe we're headed into August. We're wishing every Alaskan some sunshine, time to enjoy summer with family, and an outside adventure (or two).
Alaska's Climate Leaders
Listen to four Alaskans explain why they joined the Climate Action Leadership Team. With a focus on good science and a practical approach, the team is writing Alaska's first policy on mitigating and adapting to climate change. Their last big meeting is on August 2, where they'll make final revisions to the draft policy before it's sent to the Governor in September.

Though they hail from the temperate rainforests of Southeast to the sea ice above the Arctic circle, the leaders share one big commitment: they know 
climate is Alaska's future, and they're getting to work now. 
New Opportunities for Veterans
It was an honor to meet with service members at VFW Golden Heart Post 3629 in Fairbanks this weekend to sign two bills that will create new opportunities for Alaska veterans. House Bill 2 allows private employers to give hiring preference to members of the Alaska National Guard and U.S. military veterans. Senate Bill 204 creates special license plates for disabled veteran, for the Hmong and Lao veterans who supported our country during the Vietnam War, as well as for soldiers who are recipients of military honors. These new laws are simple ways of making sure those who fought for our country know how much we value their service.
Neighbors across the water
Lt. Governor Byron Mallott hosted some neighbors at the People's House this week. By Southeast standards, they're just across the street - or rather, passage. Hailing from Canada's BC Ferries, CEO Mark Collins and COO Corrine Storrey visited Juneau this week for meetings on collaborating to improve and streamline Alaska's Marine Highway System. From left to right: Captain John Falvey, General Manager of the AMHS; Robert Venables, Executive Director, Southeast Conference; Corrine Storrey, Chief Operating Officer, BC Ferries; Mark Collins, CEO, BC Ferries; Heather Parker, Policy Director, Governor’s Office; Lt. Governor Byron Mallott; Marc Luiken, Commissioner, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities; Rep. Sam Kito, Alaska State Legislature; Fred Parady, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development; Shirley Marquardt, Executive Director, AMHS.

Last Week's Highlights

To see photos from the Governor's meetings, visit his official Flickr Page.
Ms. Sweeney Goes to Washington
We were proud to honor Tara Sweeney this week for her new role as the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. Watching Tara cut through some non-metaphorical "red tape" was a poignant moment for all of us in the audience. Having an indigenous Alaskan take on this role for the first time is both historic, and well-deserved. We're looking forward to her leadership, excited about exporting more Alaska values to D.C., and wishing her the absolute best as she tackles a new adventure.
Medicaid Expansion: Three Years Later
We're approaching the three-year anniversary of the Walker-Mallott team expanding Medicaid in Alaska. Thought it meant wading through challenges and political heat, we've got no regrets: it gave more than 40,000 Alaskans new access to health insurance. For us, it wasn't a political choice - it was an obvious one. 
Celebrating Homesteaders of the Last Frontier
Joining the Soldotna Historical Society last week for the 61st Soldotna Progress Days was a highlight. We honored the homesteading history of the community with a very special recognition: Marge Mullen, widely recognized as the unofficial historian and first female homesteader in town, turned 98 this month. It was wonderful to listen to her perspective on a generation of extremely tough and hard-working Alaskans, and how their influence changed Alaska for good. 
Long histories & strong bonds
The Friends of Hokule‘a & Hawai‘iloa sent us this photo this week of Lt. Governor Byron Mallott. The Friends celebrate and revitalize Hawaiian culture through building, restoring, and sharing traditional Hawaiian canoe construction skills. Back when Lt. Governor was working for Sealaska, he traveled to Hawai'i with a number of Sitka spruce logs which became the hulls of the Hawai'iloa canoes. We loved seeing this throwback of the Lt. Governor doing what he does best - going the distance to show excellent leadership through helping new friends and supporting cultural traditions. Not to mention: his botanical style game is pretty unbeatable. 
Hearing from Kenai Residents
We joined fishermen in Kenai this week to discuss summer salmon returns. It's been a tough year for salmon fishermen statewide, and keeping an open dialogue between managers and fishermen is a key priority for us. We want to make sure people have access to good information about how the state manages such a critical resource. Thank you to those who came and joined us for conversations and questions - during the challenging years, we're especially grateful for the fisherman who are willing to come share their perspectives and concerns. 

Alaska is a big state. Almost anything can happen. Here's what did:  

  1. How a retired geologist discovered a long-lost Air Force plane crash in the Alaska Range (ADN) 
  2. How bold? Governor's climate action team talks emissions reduction goals and education (KTOO)
  3. Fish scientist: Low king salmon returns not caused by overfishing (KTVA)
  4. SE invests in tourism hoping for big return (AKPM)
  5. Utqiaġvik barbecue connects people to scientific research next door (AED) 
  6. Walker worried about potential Trump tariffs (KTVA)
  7. As Camp Qungaayux celebrates its 20th anniversary, the next generation prepares to take the lead (KUCB) 
First Lady Donna's Corner
The Alaska Native Heritage Center helps preserve and share the Alaska Native culture, art, and language. This year, ANHC is concentrating on providing a living cultural center focused on cultural health, wholeness and balance, and redefining the concepts of “success” and “thrive” in today’s society. Thank you to Diane Kaplan and Mel Sather, for hosting the Annual Garden Party Fundraiser to support this important mission, and to all those who helped make it such a memorable day, including (from left to right) Diane Kaplan (Rasmuson Foundation), Hans Neidig (Exxon Mobil), Marilyn Romano (Alaska Airlines), our wonderful daughter Lindsay Hobson, Darlene Gates (Exxon Mobil), and son-in-law Greg Hobson. 

Fresh Takes

ANSEP Finalist for National Innovation Award
Congratulations to the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program for being named one of seven national finalists for the Innovations in American Government Award. They're being recognized for creating opportunity and prosperity in the lives of indigenous youth. We're proud of their mission, and their success.
Conoco's North Slope News

ConocoPhillips reported outstanding growth in the last quarter, calling this year an exploration renaissance for Alaska’s North Slope oil fields, and expanded their initial estimates for new discoveries in the National Petroleum Reserve. We’ve been working hard over the last three years to improve access to exploration and new development, and it’s rewarding to see our efforts pay off.

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