Bryce Edgmon with the Bush caucus of the Alaska legislature spoke to AFN delegates this morning.
Edgmon, a Democrat from Dillingham, said the caucus took a forceful stance against the photo ID mandates for voter registration and against the proposal to amend the state constitution for using state dollars for non public schools.
“Our schools are struggling as it is under the current funding formula and we’re very concerned about making sure that we can get every state dollar possible to our schools so that our children get the quality education that not only they deserve but that our constitution mandates,” Edgmon said.
Edgmon introduced legislation in April that would allow communities along with their local non-profits, to have the authority to arm Village Public Safety Officers. He said they are the first responders in the villages.
“But they do so in a manner in rural Alaska that unfortunately is changing. A lot of our communities are featuring more violent episodes of domestic violence. And we’re seeing our VPSOs having to go in to communities, into situations where they’re facing off with a perpetrator who has a hunting rifle, or armed otherwise and our VPSOs are going into this situation armed with pepper spray, a tazer gun, handcuffs, a baton, I believe they’ve got,” Edgmon said.
Edgmon said Governor Parnell supports the bill and Senator Donny Olson introduced the senate version. He said bush caucus members are writing an op ed piece urging strong support for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act to bring 40,000 Alaskans under the coverage.
“And under a seven year period according to ANTHC’s numbers, the state of Alaska would receive about 1.1 billion dollars without having to put up a whole lot of money to match that, so it makes complete sense to do it. We think the Governor should allow Alaska to take advantage of this program and by golly if the federal government goes under and can’t keep up their end of the Medicaid program, we’re going to be in a lot worse problems than just Medicaid, trust me on that,” he said.
He closed by thanking village administrators, saying they work hard to clarify the community needs across rural Alaska to their state representatives.