Hearing alert: Landless Bill hearing at 10:30 a.m. today — Comment Now through Nov. 2

Written by Meredith Trainor

October 25, 2023

This morning, at 10:30 am Alaska time, the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining is having a hearing on pending legislation that includes three bills sponsored by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, including S.1889: the ‘Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act,’ or what many people in Southeast Alaska refer to informally as the “Landless Bill.”

The hearing will be webcast live on the committee’s website at 10:30 am sharp  — you can find the link to watch it here. If it’s not on the main page (it should be!), scroll down to the hearing calendar event to click through to the hearing page itself. Approximately 19 bills will be heard during the hearing, so settle in with some knitting, a cup of coffee, a boring spreadsheet that needs review or a mindless project you’ve been meaning to get to while we wait for the bill to be heard. It could take some time for this specific bill to come up for discussion.

You have the opportunity to submit your own comment on the bills being heard today — submit a comment by November 2 to share your perspective on this or any of the bills being discussed this morning.

To submit a comment for the record, simply email your message to: fortherecord@energy.senate.gov.

Remember that the best comments are not necessarily the ones with the most fancy legalese, but those that come straight from the heart, that share your values, and that share your personal experience in our region — your hopes, fears, and dreams for Southeast Alaska’s future. Don’t hesitate to send just a few sentences, if that’s what suits you. Comments like yours really do matter, and often actually add up to changes in how legislation is written or revised.

SEACC submitted our official comment late yesterday night — you can read it here.

We made three key requests:

  1. That the bill be better capitalized, which is to say, if this bill is going forward, each new Native corporation should receive significantly more money than is currently included in the bill, so there isn’t overwhelming pressure on the new Native corporations to log or extract natural resources in order to generate the funds they need to get started, and so the new Native corporations can take their time forming strong, successful, sustainable Native corporations and have the opportunity to be thoughtful about where and how they want to grow;
  2. That once the lands proposed for the new Native Corporations are removed, Congress should enact additional protections on the Tongass National Forest, specifically by codifying the Roadless Rule — which is a fancy way of saying ‘making Roadless Rule protections law,’ and therefore much more permanent, across Southeast Alaska.Most SEACC supporters are familiar with our work on the Roadless Rule over the last few years — the Rule itself is already in place protecting many of the most productive, ecologically and culturally important acres in the Tongass National Forest, but over the last 20 years the Rule (and the Tongass) have been treated like a political football, tossed back and forth depending on which political party is in power. We’d like to see those protections turned into law, so we can stop fighting the same old fight over Roadless again and again, every few years, and instead trust that Roadless areas will remain protected as we face an increasingly unpredictable future, due to climate change.
  3. That Congress should do more — much more — to support Indigenous-led conservation initiatives, including around the Indigenous Guardians Movement, the Traditional Homelands Conservation Rule, and other Tribally led land and water conservation efforts.

We would be grateful for your support for these three “asks” if they speak to you. 

Any comment you write is meaningful and important for our decision-makers to consider. Often, the simple number of comments that get submitted tells lawmakers how interested the public is in a specific issue or bill. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with our legislators.

And a reminder: the event today is a hearing, so is simply the start of a much longer process (remember Schoolhouse Rock’s ‘How a Bill Becomes a Law?’). We’re sharing the hearing alert now so you can listen in, write in, and learn more about this essential part of the democratic process.

There are several steps yet before this bill becomes a law, but this is an important time to make your voice heard on this and other bills that will be reviewed this morning.

Finally, our sincere apologies for not getting this notice out to you sooner. Don’t forget you can watch the committee hearing after the fact (and can even fast-forward, if you do!) at the subcommittee homepage link provided here.

My thanks,

Meredith

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