Olson: Work in Juneau has state moving forward

  • By Kurt Olson
  • Wednesday, August 13, 2014 8:02pm
  • Opinion

It has been an honor and a privilege to represent you at home and in Juneau for the past five terms. I am running again because we are at a crossroads, one path will lead us to jobs, an educated workforce, prosperity and rational utilization of our vast natural resources. The other path will not. I have the skill-sets and knowledge to ensure we continue along the first path.

We are now closer than ever to not only monetizing our stranded North Slope natural gas, but utilizing a portion of it in-state both to heat and power our homes and for value added industries. I would suggest that anyone who has not driven up the North Road lately, do so. Take a look at the new construction, all the new oil service companies and the renaissance of older properties. Cook Inlet is booming with new exploration and site development for the new LNG terminal.

The 28th Legislature was a success. We continued to adequately fund education, we took strides to keep the retirement system solvent by reducing future payments, and save money for the lean years. Until the gas line comes on line and the through-put in TAPS increases, we must guard against overspending at every level of government. I have the budgeting experience for this important task while making sure our communities see a fair share of capital projects funding.

I worked not only on energy issues but on reducing the workers’ compensation insurance impact on both small and large businesses. Recently, Governor Parnell came to our district and signed three pieces of legislation that are expected to have a significant impact on workers compensation rates.

When you first elected me, I promised to work on three things; jobs and the economy, public safety and education. I have kept those promises. During my years in Juneau, I have had great success in passing legislation to benefit my district and the state, while staying true to my promises.

I passed legislation increasing the penalties for anti-trust violations by individuals from $20,000 to $1,000,000 and by corporations from $50,000 to $50,000,000 – making ours some of the toughest in the country.

As a freshman legislator I changed the fire season start date to allow the Division of Forestry to begin preparing for early wild-land fires a month sooner. This has helped save lives and untold millions in property across the state, since its passage. This includes the recent Funny River fire.

My “Little Davis Bacon” bill means that you get more for your public dollar when municipalities award contracts smaller jobs. The trigger amount had not been adjusted since the early 1900’s. The legislation was supported by unions and municipalities statewide.

My HB 198 had an immediate positive effect on oil and gas leases across the state. It required producers to develop leases and not warehouse them.

My bills are not necessarily flashy or high profile but they have been critical improvements to state statutes governing business actions while protecting individuals.

Issues that I will be working on in the 29th Legislature will be on track with my past promises. It is imperative that we revisit the Area Cost Differential to make sure our school district receives the funds we are entitled to. I will continue my work to lower workers’ comp rates to help not only businesses but to get injured workers back on the job. My efforts to strengthen public safety and infrastructure will also continue.

Thank you again for allowing me to represent you. I ask for your vote and thank you for participating in the process.

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