Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Protecting workers, honoring the fallen

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

I strongly support homeschool families’ ability to use State funded allotments to support their students’ educational opportunities. Many families use this funding for college classes, athletic sports, and arts education, all of which benefits our local businesses and vendors. I am working with my colleagues to ensure that homeschool opportunities are protected in Alaska and that families can continue with this valuable way to directly educate their kids. Please reach out with your thoughts and ideas about how the legislature can best support homeschool families.

Several of my bills had hearings in committees this week, and I want to highlight two in particular that I am thankful passed from their respective committees. Senate Bill 174 honors those who have lost their lives in service to our country and communities, and SB 183 ensures injured workers receive timely benefit payments.

The loss of a family member is difficult, made even more difficult when that person was lost in the line of duty. This week the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee passed Senate Bill 174, which establishes flags in state law to honor those that have offered the greatest sacrifice, as well as the ongoing loss that their families must endure.

While monuments and memorials have been built to recognize those who lost their lives in service to their country or community, fewer than five percent of Americans will ever see them. Creating the Honor and Remember and Honor and Sacrifice Flags will provide an official emblem that recognizes those lost in the line of duty while serving in the U.S. military or in local police or fire fighting forces. Implementation of Senate Bill 174 would not create additional costs for the State of Alaska, as it designates where the flags may be displayed but does not require State offices to do so.

The Senate Finance Committee passed Senate Bill 183 this week, which I sponsored through the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. When a person is injured on the job and is dealing with pain and the loss of income, their problems shouldn’t be compounded by having to wait for the benefits they are entitled to receive. This bill would ensure that injured workers receive timely benefits payments from the Workers Compensation Benefits Guaranty Fund by allowing the Fund to carry over any remaining balance from one fiscal year to the next. Without this change, workers presenting claims early in the year may have to wait as long as six months for payment while the Fund accumulates enough revenues to make payouts.

I am honored to be your State Senator and I want to hear from you. You’re welcome to call my office at 907-283-7996 or email me at Sen.Jesse.Bjorkman@akleg.gov. I hope you’ll take the time to share your questions and ideas.

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