April 9 Capitol Report

April 9, 2021

Regent Confirmations and bills on the move

April 9 was the 81st day of the Legislative Session. Lawmakers are holding hearings and public testimony on the FY22 budget, including a spending plan for potential federal funds coming to the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Thank you to everyone who submitted public testimony to the House Finance Committee during their deliberations. Your voice is an essential part of the public process and building support for our university. Special thanks also to Tom Brice and everyone from UA’s Alumni Associations for participating in public testimony for UA issues!

Senate Passes UA Legislation

The Senate has unanimously passed two bills related to the University of Alaska. Senate Bill 32 expands UA’s existing middle college programs to every school district in Alaska. Senate Bill 36 establishes a bi-annual reporting requirement of the Board of Regents for program and institutional accreditation. Both bills have been referred to the House Education Committee. You can watch the Senate floor debate here.

UA Busy in Committee Hearings

University staff were active in the Capitol this week taking part in several legislative committee hearings. Mark Billingsley of UAF Center ICE presented to house lawmakers about the university’s efforts to commercialize research and intellectual property into start-up business. The House Resources Committee heard a presentation on Senate Joint Resolution 8 in support of fulfilling the UA Land Endowment. On Thursday, Teri Cothren, Associate Vice President of Workforce Development, briefed the Senate Finance Committee about how UA can provide job training to re-skill and up-skill Alaskan workers in support of Senate Bill 10. Thank you to all our staff and faculty who help showcase our university to policymakers.

Career Tech Legislation on the Move

The House Finance Committee has scheduled two hearings next week on legislation that will help sustain UA’s workforce development programs. House Bill 100 by Representative Adam Wool reauthorizes the Technical Vocational Education Program (TVEP). The program uses a portion of employee unemployment insurance contributions to fund high-demand career and technical education programs. It brings in more than $5 million to UA each year, but is scheduled to sunset at the end of this fiscal year. Thank you to UA alumni, staff, faculty and industry partners who continue to voice their support for the legislation. HB 100 was heard on Wednesday, April 14, at 9 a.m. for a presentation of the bill. The committee brought up the bill again on Friday, April 16 at 9 a.m. for public testimony.

University Board of Regents Confirmation Hearing

Scott Jepsen appeared before the Senate Education committee today for his confirmation hearing to join the UA Board of Regents. Senators asked about his vision for the UA System, as well as their background in higher education and public service. Jepsen will have a further confirmation hearing in the House before his nomination, along with Ralph Seekins and Dale Anderson, is forwarded to a joint session of the Legislature later this session. You can view the hearing here.