Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, gives her annual address to Alaska lawmakers on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Juneau, Alaska. Murkowski cautioned lawmakers against federal encroachment during the final months of President Barack Obama's presidency.  (AP Photo/Rashah McChesney)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, gives her annual address to Alaska lawmakers on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Juneau, Alaska. Murkowski cautioned lawmakers against federal encroachment during the final months of President Barack Obama's presidency. (AP Photo/Rashah McChesney)

Murkowski points to federal gains, overreach during address

JUNEAU — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski began her annual address to Alaska lawmakers with accolades about federal progress on issues that could bring economic growth and stability to the state. She ended it warning of increasing federal encroachment into state government.

During her speech Wednesday, Murkowski highlighted positive changes in transportation policy and military infrastructure improvements. She said those benefits include about $561 million in military spending that could be poured into Alaska’s construction economy.

While Alaskans focus on dealing with economic uncertainty, Murkowski said she is doing what she can to bring stability at the federal level.

“Our resource producers need the certainty that our federal areas will be accessible and that their permit applications will be considered promptly and fairly,” she said. “Our small businesses need the certainty that their investments are not going to be subject to an ever-increasing tax burden.”

To that end, Murkowski highlighted a bipartisan, $305 billion, five-year infrastructure bill that she said will bring more than $507 million to the state in the coming year and increase through 2021.

“When you’re talking about certainty and the need for stability, how helpful is it that for the first time in years, we have a multiple-year transportation bill,” Murkowski said. “What this means is certainty for funding for our ferries, our tribal transportation program. We’ve got streamlined permitting; we’ve got land exchanges for southeast contained in that.”

But, she said President Barack Obama’s focus on executive action in the last 10 months of his presidency could result in significant changes for Alaskans. She said lawmakers should be on guard against restrictive new federal policies.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, asked about an Environmental Protection Agency program allowing water bodies to be classified as outstanding natural resource waters. It would give the waters the agency’s highest water-quality protection.

Giessel said Alaska currently has no water bodies with that classification, but three have been nominated. She said the classification had the potential to shut down development in areas of the state.

“I was hoping you could help us understand. We are told that the EPA mandates that we do this? Can you help us understand — is this really required?” Giessel asked.

Murkowski said lawmakers should seek remedies to burdensome initiatives in court or by passing legislation.

“What effectively we’ve got to be doing is pushing back and challenging every step of the way,” she said.

More in News

Mount Redoubt can be seen acoss Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Offshore oil plan envisions a single Cook Inlet sale

The proposed 2023-2028 plan is similar to the just-ended Obama administration five-year plan

People line the streets in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022 for the annual Independence Day parade. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Red, white and blue all day

Kenai turns out for parade, activities to celebrate Independence Day

A podium marks the beginning of a StoryWalk at Soldotna Creek Park on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
StoryWalk is back after vandalism

The installation was discontinued last September after someone damaged the poles and podium plexiglass

Shawn Dick of Talkneetna carries a fresh catch out of the water while dipnetting on the Kenai Beach on July 10, 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Kenai River dipnetting opens this month

The Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery opens July 10

The sun is seen shining above the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska, on July 14, 2020. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clario file)
When the temperature hits 70, Alaskans feel the heat — and start suffering health ills

Acclimatization, the angle of the sun at high latitudes and other factors make summer heat more intense in Alaska

A map shows active fires around the state of Alaska on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Screenshot from Alaska Wildland Fire Information Map)
Fire danger prompts restrictions on burning, fireworks

There were 160 fires in Alaska as of Thursday, and of those 17 were staffed with fire personnel

Jessica Cook, left, and Les Gara are photographed in The Peninsula Clarion’s offices Thursday in Kenai. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Gara, Cook campaign on the Kenai Peninsula

The pair cited education funding, reproductive rights and election security as priorities

A map shows the Seward Highway MP 17-22.5 Rehabilitation Project area. The Seward Highway between Mileposts 17 and 22.5 — from about Primrose Campground to near Teddy’s Inn The Woods — will be closed from 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday starting July 18, 2022. (Screenshot)
Roadwork in Moose Pass to shut parts of Seward Highway

The Seward Highway between Mileposts 17 and 22.5 will be closed from 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesday starting July 18

Most Read