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East-West Pipeline Corridor in NPR-A Critical For Oil and Gas Development

(Biometric) Whos Keeping Your Fingerprints? Bill Would Make Sure You Know

Democrats Disappointed by Failure to Extend ACMP

Democrats Introduce Measure to Turn Windfall profits into Endowment

Democrats to Introduce Alaska Hire Incentive for Oil Industry

Governor signs bill making the Alaska Malamute Alaskas State Dog

Governor Yanks health Coverage from over 1200 Alaskan Kids

Governors Oil Tax Giveaway Moves Despite Many Unanswered Questions

Lets Get something for Oil Tax breaks


Governor yanks health coverage from over 1200 Alaskan kids

Veto leaves many unanswered questions, uncovered children ANCHORAGE  Today, Alaskans responded with shock, disappointment and confusion after Governor Sean Parnell announced his veto of increased coverage for needy Alaskans through Denali Kid Care, costing almost 1300 Alaskan kids and over 200 pregnant women health coverage this year.

The Governor claimed his recent enlightenment that Denali Kid Care could cover abortion as his justification, yet he could not answer questions about how much money was spent on abortion or whether he would seek to further cut the program in the future.

"It's cutting off your nose to spite your face," said Representative Beth Kerttula (D-Juneau). "It's unbelievable that he would take coverage from so many Alaskan children just to make a point about a very small part of what Denali Kid Care does."

"We've been fighting for years to get coverage for needy children in Alaska that is on par with other states," said Representative Lindsey Holmes (D-Anchorage). "I'm shocked that the governor would sacrifice the health and well being of Alaskan children for political ideology."

"We are very disappointed in the veto. There are over five thousand grandparents caring for eight thousand grandkids in Alaska. For many of them, the only insurance available to cover those kids is Denali Kid Care," said Patrick Luby, advocacy director for the AARP Alaska.

"When my dad was away in the military, our military coverage was not adequate. Denali Kid Care was the only way I could get the services I needed," said Amber Sawyer, a student at University of Alaska Anchorage. "I know for a fact there are other military families who could use this."

"This veto will impact many single parents barely over the income requirements now," said Christa Womack, family partnership coordinator for the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Head Start program. "The more connected children are to their health care providers, the more access they have to other valuable programs."

"Given the governor's focus on domestic violence and prevention, we're in a state of shock," said Joy Lyon, executive director of the Association for the Education of Young Children in Southeast Alaska. "Denali Kid Care is a basic building block to stabilizing families and connecting them to their medical providers who play an important role in the overall health of a family, including preventing domestic violence."

The Governor's decision will also hurt Alaska financially. Uninsured children with medical need are four times more likely to use much costlier emergency rooms to meet non-emergency needs, passing those costs on to Alaskans. The veto also leaves up to $2 million of federal matching money inaccessible.

"Alaskans will bear real costs from this decision, not only will hundreds of kids and pregnant women have to go without medical care, but we're also passing the costs of unnecessary emergency room visits on to everyone else," said Representative Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage).

Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage), who carried SB 13 on the House Floor and has sponsored legislation to improve Alaska's 3rd worst in the nation children's health care ranking, noted, "This bill was about treating children who need to go to the hospital. It was about promoting well-baby check-ups. Over 1,000 children will lose out because of this veto. Inserting a debate about a Supreme Court ruling on abortion was the wrong move."

Fifty-two of sixty legislators voted to increase Denali Kid Care coverage to cover Alaskan children living in households earning 200% of the federal poverty level. The veto keeps Alaska at 175%, one of only five states that do not cover children in families earning at least 200% of the poverty level. Ten states cover children in families with income at 300% of the federal poverty level.



Legislature passes school children's proposal (JUNEAU)  The Alaska Senate today approved House Bill 14, designating the Alaskan Malamute as Alaska's official State Dog. Bill sponsor Representative Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) introduced the measure at the request of students from Polaris K-12 School in Anchorage. The Alaska House of Representatives passed the measure last year; the bill now moves to the governor for final approval.

The project began three years ago when Kindergartener Paige Hill brought the idea to school. After some preliminary research, two first grade classes decided the Alaskan Malamute merited the designation and asked Rep. Gardner to carry the bill on their behalf. By the time the bill was introduced in 2009, the project had grown into an all-school project.

"My goal was to support student learning about the legislative process," Rep. Gardner said. "The students did all the real work or researching, drafting documents, and collecting support. I am really proud of them and believe they may know more about the legislative process than many adult voters do. "

"It was a good experience," the now third-grader Paige Hill said. "It wasn't easy, but it was fun. I am glad the Malamute is the state dog and my grandma Shirley is very proud of me. It was very exciting to me to hear that the bill passed."

"I've been working on this bill, trying to make the Alaskan Malamute the state dog, for a quarter of my life," Polaris student Maeve Wiley said. "After some ups and downs, it's passed the House and the Senate; and for that I'm thankful."



Rep. Gardner's efforts result in clarification of regulations JUNEAU -- On Friday at their annual meeting the Board of Veterinary Examiners discussed a confidentiality regulation many veterinarians believed prohibited them from reporting animal cruelty to law enforcement when the suspected violator was a client. The regulation is 12 AAC 68.100. The board ruled that nothing in the confidentiality regulation is intended to limit a veterinarian's ability to report animal cruelty. It also added immunity for veterinarians from civil and criminal prosecution for reporting animal cruelty. The board will initiate a regulations amendment process. During the 25th Legislative Session, Rep. Berta Gardner (D - Anchorage) sponsored an amendment to HB 297, a bill to allow fourth year vet students to participate in an externship. The proposed amendment affirmed the right of veterinarians to report animal cruelty. "Veterinarians who believe they were prohibited from reporting animal cruelty came to me for help," Gardner said. "And although some Board members insisted that veterinarians can and do report abuse to law enforcement, the Legislative Research report done at my request found not a single example of a legal case in which a veterinarian had contacted law enforcement to report animal cruelty. Alaskans assume veterinarians actively fight animal abuse, including involving law enforcement when necessary, and if there is confusion about their right to do so, it urgently needs clarification." Legal review of the amended regulations is scheduled for October during the Board's next meeting.


State Legislature Passes Purple Heart Trail

Gardner, Ellis bill to honor wounded and killed veterans passes on unanimous vote JUNEAU - By a vote of 39-0, the House of Representatives today passed legislation that designates the Alaska Highway from Fairbanks to the Canadian Border a part of the nationwide Purple Heart Trail. SB 216 previously passed the State Senate 19-0. The Purple Heart is awarded to soldiers who are killed or wounded by enemy fire, and 44 states have included all or part of their interstate highway system in this honorary designation. SB 216 was sponsored by Sen. Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage), and the House companion, HB 283, was sponsored by Rep. Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage). "Over 100,000 veterans and active duty soldiers and airmen call Alaska home," Gardner said. "And recognizing the sacrifices they have made for each of us is a natural fit for our state." The bill will place signs along the roadway at the Canadian border, Delta Junction, Tok, Fairbanks and midpoints between each city, as well as establish three informational pull-outs along the roadway. "It was our goal to ensure that Alaska was not the last state in the union to join this worthy effort," Ellis said. "And the Alaska Highway's history makes it the perfect choice for this designation." The road was originally built by the U.S. military during World War II. The House adopted a letter of intent to ensure that the Black Veteran's Memorial Bridge over the Gerstle River is recognized as a significant point on the Purple Heart Trail. The bridge was named by the legislature in 1993 in honor of the segregated battalions that made a significant contribution to the construction of the highway. The letter of intent will be in front of the Senate tomorrow. The bill now moves to the Governor for her signature.



Legislator wants CON studied before changes made JUNEAU - Today Rep. Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) offered an amendment to temporarily protect Alaska's Certificate of Need process for health care and order an independent study to assess the program and present the Legislature with the data needed to make informed choices about whether to reform or replace the CON. Governor Palin's health care plan, HB 337, would end the CON program entirely, and a proposed House Health , Education, and Social Services committee substitute would eliminate the program in Anchorage alone, without sufficient information about the ramifications. The study requested by Gardner would be the first of its kind since the program's 1977 implementation in Alaska. Mandated by Congress' National Health Planning and Resources Development Act (NHPRDA) of 1974, intent on strengthening fiscally responsible health planning and care availability, all states created or modified existing CON programs to conform to federal requirements. Many state programs fell short of NHPRDA's stated goals, however, and the Act was repealed in 1986. Since then, individual states have either retained, repealed, or modified individual CON programs. Alaska's CON program remains in place and had been publicly supported by the Department of Health and Social Services until early 2008. Last year, with nine pending lawsuits against the state, a 22 member CON Negotiated Rulemaking Committee comprised of industry stakeholders, and minus consumers, agreed CON should not be eliminated, and recommended "the state collect data that shows whether the CON process actually accomplishes its stated purpose of cost containment and access." Instead, the Administration introduced HB 337, repealing the program entirely. An amended version of HB337 considered by the House Health, Education, and Social Services Committee would modify it. "Talk of CON repeal has resulted in intensive lobbying in my office," Gardner said. "Each side quotes studies purportedly proving effectiveness or failures of CON. It seems to me that before we repeal or significantly modify Alaska's CON we should see some real data about its effectiveness. I'm not willing to make any changes until I understand what CON does or does not do for Alaskan healthcare consumers." The committee failed to adopt Gardner's amendment on a 4-2 vote, but included the requested study in its final version. HB 337 now moves to the House Finance Committee.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 22, 2008


Printers limited to delivering one book (set) per home JUNEAU - Rep. Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) introduced a bill that would limit the number of telephone directories a printer or distributor can deliver to a household. HB 387 would limit the number of directories a printer/distributor can leave at a residence to 1 (or 1 set). Additional books can be provided if requested by someone in the home. Currently, printer/distributors deliver a directory (or set of directories) for each residential telephone line so a home with multiple lines will receive multiple directories from the same company. The extra phone books go from the doormat to the land fill or recycling center without being used. HB 387 will stop the creation of this excess waste "I believe that this is not just an inconvenience to the resident but it creates unnecessary recycling headaches and land-fill costs," Gardner said. Competition and free market economy are both important considerations of any legislation. HB 387 does not impinge on the rights of printers/distributors to create directories, to sell advertising in them and to deliver to residences and offices. It does propose to limit their ability to litter the front porches of our homes and to create disposal headaches and costs for us.

Paid For by Berta Gardner for State Senate, 1405 Matterhorn Way, Anchorage AK 99508

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