Sen. Dan Sullivan heads toward the podium in the state House before his annual address to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Rashah McChesney)

Sen. Dan Sullivan heads toward the podium in the state House before his annual address to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Rashah McChesney)

Sullivan: Alaska strategically important to US

JUNEAU — U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan said Monday that Alaska is an area of strategic importance to the country, given its foothold in the Arctic and production of oil, seafood and other resources.

In an address to state lawmakers, he spoke about the state’s role in improving its own fiscal standing and that of the United States.

He also highlighted several issues facing Alaska, including long-standing problems with domestic violence and sexual abuse, a veterans’ health care system that he said is not working and rising number of opioid addicts.

While Sullivan said he’s working to address the issues, his top priority has been advocating for defense policies that boost the state’s military capability. That spending, he said, will bolster the nation’s defenses and enrich Alaska’s economy.

According to a report from the state’s congressional delegation, distributed to state legislators, the state plays a key role in the Arctic to counter the threat of Russian expansion, missile defense to counter the threat of nuclear proliferation in North Korea and a strong air force to face increasing Russian incursions.

After Sullivan’s address, Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, asked Sullivan about the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and how it has polarized Republican lawmakers and President Barack Obama over whom should select the next justice.

Sullivan fell in line with the rhetoric of others in his party who said that while the president has the authority to nominate a new justice Congress will use its authority to refuse to vote on that nominee. He said he is not on the judiciary committee but supports what its members are doing. Last week, Senate Republican leaders said they would refuse to hold a confirmation hearing, vote or meeting for any nominee Obama made.

Imagine if the country were nearing the end of eight years of a Republican presidency and Democrats held the majority in the Senate, Sullivan said. “Pretty sure the same thing would be happening right now,” he said.

More in News

A pie chart shows Kenai Peninsula Borough School District expenditures by object for the current fiscal year. (Chart via KPBSD)
Explanation of how KPBSD organizes funds caps ‘Budget 101’ series

Finance Director Elizabeth Hayes delivered the presentation to school board members during a Monday work session

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, answers questions from constituents during a legislative update at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Ruffridge predicts school funding, energy security will be top issues in Juneau next session

Ruffridge has represented District 7, which includes Kenai and Soldotna, in the Alaska House of Representatives since October 2022

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meet on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
New school board group will study 4-day school week

The group will meet regularly until next July, when committee members will present their findings to the full board

Members of the Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee raise hands to vote in favor of a proposal during a meeting at Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Advisory committee supports protections for lake trout and king salmon

Advisory committee recommendations will be weighed by the State Board of Fisheries alongside public testimony as they deliberate on each proposal

The Kenai Peninsula College Main Entrance on Aug. 18, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Inside the Iditarod

Showcase to feature stories from champion, event photographer

Paul Gebhardt is photographed on March 24, 1996. (M. Scott Moon/Peninsula Clarion)
Kasilof musher dies at 67

Paul Gebhardt was a 21-time participant in the Iditarod

Santa Claus hugs Paul Cook during Christmas in the Park festivities at Soldotna Creek Park in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna brings holiday cheer

Christmas in the Park drew hundreds to meet Santa Claus, go on sleigh rides, sip hot cocoa and listen to music

From left: Rep. Ben Carpenter, Sen. Jesse Bjorkman and Rep. Justin Ruffridge discuss their priorities regarding education during a work session with members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School funding, accountability dominate school board work session with lawmakers

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, Rep. Ben Carpenter and Rep. Justin Ruffridge joined the board for a work session in Soldotna

Snow coats an eroding bluff near the mouth of the Kenai River on Friday, March 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai accepting bids on bluff stabilization project

The announcement means that contractors can start submitting their proposals for how they’d complete the work and how much it would cost to do so

Most Read