Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, speaks to attendees at a town hall event on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, speaks to attendees at a town hall event on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Capitol Corner: Sen. Jesse Bjorkman — Looking at food security, supporting public workers

Peninsula lawmakers report back from Juneau

It was an honor to escort Governor Dunleavy into the House Chambers Tuesday night and hear his vision for Alaska. The Governor and I agree on many things, including the importance of making Alaska a place where people can raise their families in safety, with affordable housing and energy, enough food to eat, and a good education. I look forward to partnering with him to ensure the Alaska dream is in reach for anyone who wants it.

We know that public employers are not able to provide the same wages as the private sector, and a reliable pension has been one of the tools used in the past to attract and keep employees. This week the State Senate passed Senate Bill 88 on to the House for their consideration. The bill is designed to be a cost neutral way to compensate public employees for their service as troopers, fire fighters, plow truck drivers and educators. The current system has proven ineffective and wasteful in providing retirement benefits. The state can get more value for their investment and avoid mistakes of the past with the retirement plan outlined in SB 88.

My bill, SB 161 Tax Exemption for Farm Use Land, had hearings on Tuesday and Thursday in the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee this week. Alaska faces the persistent challenge of food insecurity, and our state relies heavily on food imports from Outside. I introduced the bill to support our farmers and help increase the amount of food produced in Alaska. SB 161 would allow farmers to apply for property tax reductions on farm buildings as well as farmland and would streamline the qualification requirements. Learn more at www.senatorbjorkman.com.

The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee reviewed proposals this week to eliminate three boards: Massage Therapists, Barbers and Hairdressers, and Certified Direct Entry Midwives. It’s important to ensure our state government isn’t bigger than it needs to be. It’s also important to review cuts carefully to ensure Alaskans who get service or care from the people in these industries are protected. Let me know what you think at sen.jesse.bjorkman@akleg.gov.

The Big Game Commercial Services Board plays an important role in managing the activities of hunting guides and transporters to protect the interests of the State’s wildlife resources. The Labor and Commerce Committee, which I chair, recently heard the Committee’s bill SB 182 to extend the sunset date of the Board to 2032.

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