A Recap of Rural Development: The Legislative Process

Written by Katie Rooks

February 7, 2023

Greetings! As SEACC’s Environmental Policy Analyst, I seldom have occasion to create social messaging, but I recently returned from an incredible week at our Alaska State Capitol where I attended the beginning of Alaska’s 33rd Legislative Session. I felt it was important to reach out to share some thoughts and tools, and hopefully to inspire you to engage more often with your lawmakers, community leaders, and peers this year on any issue you care about.

I was fortunate enough to participate in a class made possible through multiple partnerships between the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Bristol Bay Native Corporation, and the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation. The class is called Rural Development: The Legislative Process, and recruits mainly from the Bristol Bay region, but this time they had room for a couple of folks from further away, so I jumped on board.

For a week, my peers (who are an absolutely incredible group of people) and I engaged with dozens of legislators face-to-face, learned how to give effective public testimony, and saw informative presentations by the Division of Economic Development, the Department of Commerce, and more. I was privileged enough to have conversations with our new District 2 Representative, Rebecca Himschoot, and several other legislators about some issues near and dear to us at SEACC — forest management, watershed protection, healthy fisheries, and government accountability.

I met another new legislator, Senator Löki Tobin, who spoke to our class. I was captivated by her personal story and her presence. There were many new faces at the opening of Alaska’s 33rd Legislative Session, but almost all of the people I met were either born and raised in Alaska or have lived here for decades. Former Representative Reggie Joule and his wife spoke eloquently during our farewell potluck, encouraging us not to give up on our government no matter what, and to keep reaching out and making a difference. There was hardly a dry eye in the room.

In the spirit of that wisdom, I’m providing a list of links you can use easily to follow and track bills as they move through the House and Senate, testify on bills, and easily send emails or call legislators. 

The first stop for everything related to the Alaska Legislature. From this page, you’ll access nearly every other tool, so bookmark it! Finally, here’s a list of both House and Senate legislators, and certain government departments, with phone numbers.

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