Shortly after resigning from the Kenai Peninsula school board in December, I found myself on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives being sworn in by Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer. My wife, Tanna, and my staff were present for the swearing in.
It is humbling to stand in the room where the founding fathers of the great state of Alaska began their careers and created the very foundation of state government.
That aside, I have staffed my office with Kenai-Nikiski residents who are experienced and well qualified. We have a good spirit of cooperation with the legislators and staff members from the Kenai Peninsula. I am proud to be a part of the group that has made the Kenai Peninsula Borough a priority this session.
There are many statewide issues before the Legislature, and my staff has been in close contact with folks from our area regarding many important issues.
A bill has been introduced to increase Alaska's minimum wage. Although different people have different ideas, minimum wage may increase to as much as $7.15 between January 2002 and January 2003.
The natural gas pipeline is a major topic of interest. I am deeply concerned that Alaskans be allowed to work both in Canada and here during pipeline construction. Alaska oil resources should be utilized without limits of gas to liquids, liquefied natural gas or any other byproducts.
My staff has sent teacher loan-grant applications to local educators. Education is an important issue as I have four children, Brandon, Elisha, Miranda and Shanda, in peninsula schools.
In past years, rural Alaska school districts have had favorable status and legislators are taking a close look to stop future favoritism.
Nikiski residents asked for and received information in line with Title 29 of the Alaska state statutes for their incorporation committee. Kenai Mayor John Williams visited to request assistance for funding expansion for Phase 2 of the Challenger Space Camp-Center. My office has provided Nikiski and Kenai senior centers with federal grant applications to assist them in obtaining funding for senior projects. We have addressed restoring road maintenance funding and equipment for the peninsula.
The Fish Caucus, formed by a group of legislators whose districts depend on fishing as their economic base, is looking at proposed legislation that would change the politicization of fishery management.
As the chairman of the Special House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, we had a joint Senate meeting for overviews of the department. The committee is studying the proposed merger of Veterans Homes with the existing Pioneers' Homes.
My staff has resolved several hundred problems, and although it is impossible to be 100 percent satisfied, they have done an amazing job with problems form child support to drainage issues and road maintenance. We have started the budget process, and I serve on several sub-committees.
This is the time for you to speak out on budget issues.
In the four short weeks I have been in Juneau (taking into consideration we have not seen the sun), I have learned many things. People are determined to see only the best for the state of Alaska. There are disagreements, and our political process lends itself to good, productive conflict, but the majority of legislators take time to understand and consider others in a respectful manner.
If you have concerns to share or a problem, please call me at 1-800-469-3779. My fax number is 1-907-465-2833. My e-mail address is Representative_Mike _Chenault@legis.state .ak.us. My World Wide Web site is http:/www.legis.state.ak.us.house/chenault.html.
A poll will be on my Web site for folks with Internet access. E-mail and the Internet have become useful tools to help represent House District 9 in a more efficient manner. Thank you for your ongoing support; it is an honor to serve House District 9.
Rep. Mike Chenault is a first-term Republican representative for House District 9, the Kenai-Nikiski area.
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