Young talks Trump, drugs and gas taxes

Alaska’s lone delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives wrapped up a visit to Juneau on Tuesday, telling an audience at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall that he supports an increase in national and state gasoline taxes, is opposed to prison for drug users, and supports Ohio Gov. John Kasich to be the Republican nominee for president.

Young spoke to more than 120 people at the weekly Native Issues Forum hosted by the Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Young is in Alaska during a Congressional recess that lasts until April 12. He next travels to Sitka.

Before speaking, Young posed for selfies and cellphone photos with audience members who had to wait until the end of his remarks for his presidential choice.

“I’m not supporting Donald Trump. I’ve said that publicly. I am supporting Kasich because I think he’s the smartest one of the bunch,” Young said.

In office since 1973, Young has been in the House longer than any other sitting Republican. He has served under eight presidents and — barring a defeat this fall — will soon serve under a ninth.

“I’m not worried about the size of your hand or your wife’s looks or these other things. It’s silliness,” Young said of the furor surrounding Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

Young has a simple answer for why that furor exists.

“Who I do blame? The people,” he said. “A bunch of idiots following Pied Piper over the cliff. That’s who I blame. I mean, nobody wants to read anymore. No one wants to find out the background anymore. And they blame Donald Trump. I blame the people.”

After an audience member asked about Young’s views on marijuana, Young responded that the voters of Alaska have decided, and as a backer of state rights, he supports Alaskans’ views.

“Either you’re for states’ rights or against them. You can’t have it both ways,” he said.

While he believes marijuana is addictive, he said alcohol is worse, and the state has legalized both. He said he does not believe drug users should be jailed for their addictions, but he believes government should go after drug dealers, particularly heroin dealers, whom he said are murderers.

“It is probably the scourge of the United States,” he said of heroin.

When Central Council president Richard Peterson asked Young’s views on the federal government’s role in fighting that scourge, the Congressman responded that local communities need to take action.

Many times, particularly in small rural communities, residents know who the drug dealers are, but they are afraid to act, Young said.

“You can’t always expect somebody else to do it for you,” he said, adding that he supports the ability of local courts to punish offenders locally.

Young did not directly address Alaska’s $4 billion annual state deficit, following a pattern set by U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan during their in-state visits.

After a question regarding transportation funding, however, he did touch on one portion of the proposed solution, saying he supports the effort in the Alaska Legislature to raise the state motor fuels tax, but only if revenue from that tax is dedicated to transportation.

Article IX, Section 7 of the Alaska Constitution forbids dedicated funds, but Young said he thinks a determined Legislature can find a way to do it.

“I’ve suggested that respectfully,” he said. “You don’t believe you can do it, but I believe you can.”

Young has long supported raising the federal gasoline tax to keep pace with the rising efficiency of American cars. In 2003, as chairman of the powerful House Transportation Committee, Young proposed raising the federal gas tax from 18.4 cents per gallon to 33 cents per gallon by 2009. The measure failed after opposition from President George W. Bush and others in Congress.

Young also referenced bills he has introduced in Congress to make more land available for resource development, something he views as a top priority.

“You’ve got to be able to harvest your trees, mine your minerals, drill for oil, grow your crops, catch your fish. Those are real dollars,” he said. “The rest of it is frosting, and by the way, just putting frosting in a bowl is no good for anybody.”

More in News

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Kenai man dead after weekend collision

The crash took place at the intersection of Treasure Chest Street and the Kenai Spur Highway

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Alexis Alamillo, of Anchorage, carries a sockeye salmon caught in a dipnet from the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday.
Kenai River dipnetting now open 24 hours a day

The liberalization of fishing regulation was effective starting Thursday evening

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

Most Read