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Pre-filing of bills has begun as the opening date for Alaska's 28th legislative session approaches.
Sen. Bert Stedman of Sitka and Rep. Peggy Wilson of Wrangell will be representing Ketchikan's views on the bills as well as the capital and operating budgets. Both visited with constituents here in recent weeks.
Stedman no longer is co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. That development definitely means a change for Ketchikan and Southeast District Q.
But, it isn't necessary to throw up the region's collective hands and surrender. It just shows that Stedman and Wilson will need more participation from the homefolks.
Stedman will chair Health, Education and Social Services, while Wilson will chair the House Transportation Committee and serve as vice chair of House Resources. Stedman's position on this panel will be gold for Ketchikan and Alaska as the state tackles health-care issues in earnest.
Wilson pointed out in last week's interview that she has to be concerned about the whole state as she conducts legislative business. The same is true for legislators throughout the state, including those heading Senate Finance and other key legislative committees.
Ketchikan folks can take their issues and the stories surrounding their capital requests to all legislators and expect positive results. It is pointless to look for the negative.
The folks also can participate easily through the www.legis.state.ak.us website. The site provides a list of all the bills filed to date. Wilson, along with Tammie Wilson, has pre-filed a bill (HB21) related to when a school week could be shortened to four days.
Senate bills pre-filed range from setting May 10 as Alaska Mining Day (SB1) to funding for school lunch and breakfast programs for students eligible for free or reduced-price meals. (SB6).
The full text of these and other bills are available on the website. In addition, it is possible to watch the Legislature via the web. All legislative hearings are streamed live. For constituents interested in a topic, it is possible to monitor when it will be discussed, listen and watch the discussion and testify. Being part of the legislative experience is easy.
That's the kind of attention Ketchikan and constituents will need to pay to the Legislature this session.
Stedman and Wilson will carry the ball, but they will need constituents in the game like no time in recent history.
And the kickoff is Tuesday.