Early March is my favorite time of the year, not because it means
spring is on the way, but because it�s the start of the Last Grace Race on
earth -- the Iditarod. Barking, howling, jumping dogs, and the crowd
cheering on the mushers as they head down the chute make it such a big
part of Alaska�s culture. What�s not to love?
joined thousands of Alaskans, as well as people from all over the
globe, as we celebrated the ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage. The
weather was beautiful and crisp as the mushers began their close to
1,000 mile trek to Nome. Best of luck to all of the mushers and their
teams out on the trail!
The extended President�s Day state work period
allowed me to be in Alaska for a week in February. During my time at
home, I delivered my annual speech to the Alaska State Legislature and
spent some time in Anchorage and Southeast Alaska meeting with
Something that I appreciate, and I can bet skiers
and outdoor enthusiasts can appreciate, is the snowfall we�ve seen this
winter throughout much of Alaska. During a recent weekend in Girdwood,
the weather and snow was perfect to hit the trails for cross-country
In Anchorage, I stopped by the Grand Opening of Roscoe�s Catfish &
Barbeque Restaurant�s second location in town! Roscoe and his family
contribute so much to the community � and serve up fabulous soul
have been the U.S. Representative to the Standing Committee of
Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region since 2005. Members of the national
parliaments come from each of the eight Arctic Nations, so it was a great
opportunity to not only learn from the other Arctic Nations, but also
work collaboratively on issues of concern to the Arctic. We had a
number of excellent presentations, from unmanned aerial surveillance
programs in the Arctic, to the upcoming Arctic Energy Forum in
Finland, and all of the amazing Arctic research that is being done in Alaska.
I spent a day in Ketchikan and had the opportunity to
meet with a group of AARP members to discuss the future of Medicare,
Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act.
I also had the
opportunity to meet John Reese, the last fluent speaker of Sm�algyax,
the Tsimshian language. In 1997, there were 23 fluent speakers in
Ketchikan � but that has dwindled to solely Mr. Reese. At 94, he is working
to keep his Native language alive, teaching classes that are free and
open to the public through the Ketchikan Indian Community. He did his
best to teach me some Sm�algyax words and phrases � a memorable
experience that I will treasure forever.
During a work session
in our state�s capitol, I spoke with leaders of the Alaska Federation
of Natives. We had some very productive discussions regarding a wide
variety of topics � such as education funding, energy issues, combating
our state�s opioid crisis, and finding effective ways to work with the
new Administration. I look forward to continuing the
conversation and working to address their concerns.
I gave my
14th annual address to the Alaska State Legislature in
Juneau, outlining my vision for the future of our state and how I�m working
to empower Alaskans. I discussed the future of resource development,
healthcare, education, and the military in Alaska. I recognize there
is anxiety and uncertainty regarding the future of our state, but I
remain confident that the next several years hold much promise for us. I
encourage you to watch my speech by clicking on the picture below and
to read the text here: http://bit.ly/2lxcNdI.
I hosted an informal �meet and greet� with
Alaska Legislative staff at the Alaska Brewing Company in Juneau. I have
many occasions to meet directly with other legislators, so this was a
great opportunity to meet those who work so hard behind the scenes and
to express my thanks.
Saw this bumper
sticker in Juneau and I couldn�t agree more - It hits the nail on the
head when it comes to farmed fish.
While in Juneau, I met
with two entrepreneurs who have come up with a new way to harness and
use one of our abundant resources in Alaska, kelp! By harvesting kelp
to turn it into salsa and pickles, and looking at other Alaskan
products to supplement kelp recipes, these two have found a creative way to
make the most of Alaska�s seafood bounty.
I was pleased to attend the
Symphony of Seafoods while in Juneau. Hundreds of people came out to
celebrate local entrepreneurs and innovators with the added bonus of
eating some fantastic seafood. The products competing at this event
ranged from candied salmon ice cream, to baby food, to even a salmon
leather purse. Congratulations are in order for all of those who put so
much time and effort into the development of the seafood products
presented at the event.
(Senator Peter Micciche &
Juneau, I had the chance to sit down with Admiral McAllister and U.S. Coast
Guard leadership to discuss ongoing and future Coast Guard activities
throughout Alaska. The USCG is critical to protecting our waters and
keeping Alaskans safe and secure. We discussed equipment needs and
limitations, as well as multi-national training exercises. I will work to
make sure they have the resources necessary to continue doing their
job safely and efficiently.
After a long and full week at home, it
was time to head back to Washington, D.C.
I truly value making sure the voices of all of my constituents are
heard, and I am thankful to have this time to meet with Alaskans
across our big state. Thank you to all of you who share your concerns and
ideas with me, as they help me represent you in Washington, D.C.
Until next time!