Medicaid expansion makes sense for Alaska

Why does it make sense to take on Medicaid expansion in these times of fiscal challenges and diminished budgets? Aren’t we supposed to be tightening our belts right about now, boring new holes for the buckle so we can draw them even tighter in years to come? Why would we take money from the Feds, with all those strings attached?
It may seem counter-intuitive to commit to expansion in a time of contracting state budgets. Nonetheless, when you dig deeper into the facts, figures and underlying rationale, it makes good sense to move forward with Medicaid expansion.

From the desk of Representative Paul Seaton

Greetings from Juneau on this 77th day of the legislative session. I hope everyone had an excellent Easter weekend. It is great to have Tina back from returning our 3 year old granddaughter to her parents. It does make life less hectic – though we miss Hazel’s energy!
My big accomplishment for the week was moving the Medicaid Reform/Expansion legislation submitted by Governor Walker, HB 148, out of committee. We considered 29 amendments and added a number of reform demonstration projects. Most importantly, we required that the reforms be done or investigated and reported to the legislature by certain dates.

Food pantry serves many around Kachemak Bay

You may have noticed that the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank has been sending out donation requests lately.
Homer Community Food Pantry has received several calls asking, “How does this donation benefit you?” We receive no money from them, and donating to them is your decision. As dues-paying members of KPFB, our only benefit is purchasing food — when they have it — at a reduced cost.
Cash donations to Homer’s Food Pantry allow us to provide food to many in our community. To meet that need, we spend more than $500 weekly to supplement the food donations that you bring us.

PhotoVoice returns with expanded scope

On Friday, Homer Middle School’s yearbook class will present their thoughts on gender norms, role models, problems and issues facing Homer teens, and the factors contributing to teen drinking in the community through a photography project called PhotoVoice. The gallery of images will be displayed at Two Sisters Bakery for the month of April, and will mark the second year students at Homer Middle School have the chance to share their thoughts with the community.

More are to blame than the two brothers

What a thin line there is between “civilized” human behavior and the behavior of animals! And how easily that line is erased with the consumption of alcohol combined with the need to be accepted by a group, which can result in destructive mob action. I’m referring to the uncivilized, irresponsible, immature action at a teenage party of two and a half years ago.
Troubling as I see it is that the two Resetarits brothers have been made scapegoats. It seems to me that there is a far wider circle of people who should publicly share responsibility.

Alaska faces critical salmon habitat decision

What if someone told you your favorite salmon stream was better off as a coal strip mine? You’ll never be able to fish there again. But it’s OK. There are plenty of other streams to fish.
Imagine if that river was the Anchor or the Ninilchik or the Russian River?
The State of Alaska faces a historic decision in Upper Cook Inlet: should we reserve water in a stream to protect our wild salmon, or give the water to a coal company so it can dewater the stream and extract coal for China? The State will take public comments on this critical question until April 9.

Work together for an improved Bishop’s Beach policy

Homer’s citizens and visitors encompass a wide spectrum of beach-users: dog walkers, quiet seekers, coal collectors, off-road vehicle drivers, kayakers, paddle boarders, fat-tire bikers, picnickers, wavewatchers, painters, tide-poolers, birders, educational and recreational class attendees and many other user groups I likely forgot.
I believe that a beach policy can be implemented to protect important areas, while still allowing us all the freedom to enjoy our beaches. With planning and some give and take, there can be (safe) driving on the beach, coal collection, off-leash dog areas, etc.

A different focus may do some good

This week I had the opportunity to sit down with Sen. Gary Stevens, who by my estimation, is a pretty upbeat guy. When I first met him, he was delighted to be representing Homer once more with its strong vocal chords, in of its oddball coastline glory.
He seems to be fairly relaxed in front of a crowd, and also just sitting at a table in the Legislative Information Office.
So, when Stevens says that things are “really, really, really bad for the budget this year,” I am fairly convinced we are all in a bit of hot water.
But such a caution should not incite fear or panic; rather it should serve as a sobering reality that we all share in the coming challenge.

Protecting salmon in a changing climate

The National Weather Service reports that 2014 was Alaska’s warmest year on record. Even with record-breaking temperatures occurring all across the state, I see climate change getting framed as an “Arctic” issue. For example, at the November transition conference, the Walker-Mallott transition team established 17 topics for discussion, including fisheries, wildlife, natural resources, subsistence and infrastructure, but climate change was only coupled with Arctic Policy. Certainly, unique and imminent climate-related threats face the Arctic region and its communities, and it’s no surprise national attention focuses on the Arctic as new shipping and drilling opportunities emerge with melting sea ice. Alaskans, however, know that rapid change is not just happening in the Arctic.

Birders make case for beach protections

The Kachemak Bay Birders appreciate the recognition the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission is giving to ongoing user problems at Bishop’s Beach and Beluga Slough. These problems impact the quality of these sites, as well as the enjoyment and safety of the many area residents and visitors that use Bishop’s Beach and Beluga Slough.
We agree with the methodical approach you have used to better understand these problems, as well as develop possible solutions. We also appreciate the support you have received from the City of Homer Planning Department in working to resolve these issues.

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