Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks Monday, May 8, 2023, on the floor of the Alaska House. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks Monday, May 8, 2023, on the floor of the Alaska House. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Rep. Justin Ruffridge: Strong communication is key

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Communication with constituents is a hallmark of good representation. During session many residents have called or emailed my office to voice their thoughts and opinions regarding legislation and important issues. Another avenue of communication is to meet together and engage in good dialogue during a town hall.

I am traveling back to the district this weekend and will be hosting a town hall this Saturday, March 30 in Soldotna. Town halls are a key piece of good public policy as they allow individuals to ask questions and for me to hear directly from my constituents. This is particularly significant for the majority of Alaskans, where visiting the Capitol is quite challenging and very cost prohibitive. As legislators our foremost responsibility is to represent the people who elected us. During face-to-face meetings we can address questions about current legislation so residents are well informed about what is taking place in Juneau.

The town hall will be held at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Chambers, 144 North Binkley Street in Soldotna from 10 am to noon. I look forward to seeing you there!

On another note, the budget will be moving to the House Floor in the next few weeks, impacting the progress of policy related bills. With that in mind, my office is diligently working to advance our bills in the remaining timeframe.

House Bill 371 successfully passed the House Floor on Monday, March 25 by a vote of 33-7. This bill streamlines the medical review organizations process with the goal of reducing avoidable deaths, illnesses, and injuries. HB 371 has been transmitted to the Senate where I will be presenting in the Senate Health and Social Services Committee in the next few weeks.

I also presented HB 309 to the House Health and Social Services Committee on Thursday, March 21. This bill would allow optometrists to delegate routine tasks to their assistants. This bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Health and Social Services Committee again on Thursday, March 28.

On Wednesday, March 20, I gave a presentation on House Bill 144. This bill would repeal the Education Tax Credit sunset which currently requires routine legislative extensions to keep the program going. Currently, this program is slated to sunset at the end of 2024. The Education Tax credit program incentivizes charitable contributions from businesses to schools within our state. By repealing the sunset provision within this bill, we encourage businesses to implement consistent and long term support of our education system through donations to schools.

I also presented House Bill 195 before the House Fisheries Committee on Tuesday, March 26. This bill creates a voluntary buyback program aimed at improving the economic viability of Eastside set netting in the Upper Cook Inlet. We had some great discussions and will be hearing this bill again next week.

I look forward to engaging with you at the town hall this weekend and continuing our efforts to address the needs in our communities and throughout the state.

Please reach out to my office with any questions by calling 907-465-2693 or emailing Rep.Justin.Ruffridge@akleg.gov.

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