Opinion

By now, almost everyone’s got a smart phone. Even in Alaska, iPhones and Androids have become an indispensable part of life, helping us communicate, navigate, plan schedules, count calories, play games, and more. There is almost no aspect of life that smartphones don’t make easier and better.

So, as part of my work to make state government work better for Alaskans, I came up with a simple idea that will let us leverage modern technology to better enjoy the traditional Alaskan pleasures of hunting, fishing and trapping: digital licenses.

This editorial first appeared in the Jan. 21 edition of the Alaska Journal of Commerce:

The only thing surprising about U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding the Obama administration’s policy of nonenforcement in states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana is how many people acted surprised by it.

The passage of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” last week is only the first step in a larger Republican effort to cut funding for vital health care and basic assistance programs. The bill, which overwhelmingly benefits the wealthiest individuals and corporations, had the backing of Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, and Representative Young. Before the vote even occurred, House Speaker Paul Ryan stated that the next task on the Republican agenda is to cut funding for Medicare and Medicaid. In a recent meeting I had with Representative Young, he echoed this priority.

Dear friends,

Some of the most rewarding times in my life have come through seeing lives changed. As a chaplain for the Transformational Living Community (TLC), I have experienced many men who have surrendered their lives to Christ and have done the hard work of transformation.

The TLC moved to Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River in May, 2018. Twenty-four TLC programmers and 11 TLC grads are currently enrolled in the 12-month programs. The goal is to eventually build up to 78 programmers in the TLC, graduate TLC, and Christian Education.

The first snowfall of the year brings a rash of ditch divers and car crashes. My kids and I used to have a game of rating the wrecks when we drove between Eagle River and Anchorage. The ditch divers, whom we scored as a 10, managed to cross four lanes of traffic, clear the guardrail, do a complete roll or summersault, and land on their wheels without hitting another car. You can come up with your own way of scoring these esoteric accomplishments.

Planning for safe(r) winter driving

I think everyone has read the classic Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Those words ring as true today as when they were written in 1897. Last Friday at the tree lighting ceremony at Town Square Park, I found out there is a Mrs. Santa as well.

If there’s one thing I’m sure we can all agree on, it’s that there have been enough special legislative sessions this year!

At least the session that wound up Tuesday resulted in some important revisions to Alaska’s criminal justice reform effort. We passed Senate Bill 54 to fix some of the worst elements of Senate Bill 91, the big 2016 crime reform bill.

Your local Lions Clubs are four of over 45,700 Lions Clubs actively serving their communities in 210 countries and geographical areas of the world. Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization. Its 1.4 million members are dedicated to bettering the quality of life for the handicapped, the poor, the sick and the aged. The motto of Lions Clubs International is “We Serve,” “Where there is a need there is a Lion,” and Lions live these mottos with enthusiasm.

We’re optimistic that our Alaska Legislature will be able to not only strengthen the course of criminal justice reform by passing SB 54, but also address our state’s fiscal crisis in the upcoming special session in Juneau. Here’s why:

Legislators and all Alaskans should be careful not to get so wrapped up in the ongoing debates over taxes, state spending and crime sprees, that we all miss the very real connection between our economy and the overall health of our state.

Over the past eight months, Star reporter Kirsten Swann has indeed been the star of our newsroom, so it’s with mixed feelings we announce her departure from the Star staff. While we’re sad to see her go, we can’t wait so see how far she takes her next opportunity.

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