Murkowski Addresses Alaska Legislature
Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Juneau and give my annual address to the State Legislature. This is something I look forward to every year. Visiting the Legislature is a time to catch up with old friends, update the state on things happening back in Washington, D.C., and also listen to legislators' comments, questions and concerns about the future of Alaska and the nation.
During this year's address, I touched on a variety of issues, from opening up ANWR to oil and gas development, along with helping Alaska's small businesses by fighting federal overreach and burdensome regulations.
Unlike past years, I kept my remarks to the legislature brief, wanting to instead hear from legislators and answer their questions. Sen. Lesil McGuire of Anchorage asked for an update on the Ted Stevens prosecutorial misconduct case and I assured her that I continue to work to ensure that what happened to Sen. Stevens never happens again.
I discussed Arctic policy with Sen. Wagoner of Kenai, stating that I believe there is a window of opportunity to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty, before election year politics take over in Washington. I encouraged lawmakers in Alaska to consider what efforts they can take to get the word out to the other states that this should be a priority. With increasing maritime traffic, and the growing demand for raw resources, the importance of the Arctic is squarely in the spotlight of many nations -- and it must be in ours, too.
The question and answer session with state legislators was helpful as I head back to Washington and I look forward to continuing to work with Alaskan lawmakers on all levels to chart Alaska's course in the years ahead.
Rising Price of Gas
Alaskans and many Americans continue to see gas prices rise at an unacceptable level. Traveling around the state this past recess -- from Fairbanks to Yakutat to Ketchikan -- the most common concern raised by Alaskans was energy prices.
Earlier this week, I took to the Senate floor to explain to my colleagues our vital need to increase domestic production of oil in places like Alaska. The United States has the resources, and we have the ability to access the resources in an environmentally safe way. Drilling is not the whole solution, but it is part of the solution to an all of the above energy plan.
Alaska holds the opportunity and I will continue to work towards achieving that goal, because communities like Bethel, Yakutat, and Fairbanks cannot wait any longer.
Fairbanks Community Meeting on Eielson AFB
During the February recess, I visited Fairbanks to meet with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. Afterward, Senator Begich, Mayor Luke Hopkins and I held a community meeting on the proposed changes to Eielson. There was a great turnout, and both Senator Begich and I had the opportunity to update the Fairbanks community on the Air Force's proposed changes, what that would mean to Eielson AFB, and what the Alaska delegation is doing about the Air Force proposal to move the F-16 Aggressor squadron to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Anchorage.