Around 100 business owners and industry leaders will head to Juneau during the upcoming legislative session as part of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce’s annual legislative fly-in to speak with lawmakers about issues affecting the state’s business climate.
Alaska Chamber President and CEO Curtis Thayer says the participants represent groups from Nome, Anchorage, Ketchikan and many places in between.
“We have banks, shipping companies, insurance companies, people involved obviously in oil and gas, some of the Native corporations will be joining us, small businesses, so it’s really a cross spectrum,” Thayer said. “There’s not one industry that particularly stands out over the other.”
The Chamber’s priorities for the upcoming session focus on a sustainable state budget, discussions regarding the Permanent Fund, oil taxes and what new taxes could look like.
Thayer says individual discussions with legislators could cover a wide variety of other issues as well.
“But, in polling our members, right now the sustainable budget, PFD and taxes are the most important issues to them, so I think we’re pretty much in alignment, but they will go in there and talk about their regions, their individual businesses also,” he said.
The Alaska Chamber of Commerce represents 650 businesses statewide, and Thayer says the group traveling to Juneau will be representative of the larger organization.
Thayer says the group’s next step will be budgeting time with legislators.
“We’ve been very fortunate the majority of the legislature makes appointments for our members, and so we set those appointments; they go in groups of 3-4 and spread out across the capitol,” he said. “And if you can imagine what 100 members going out there, that’s quite a few appointments to set up.”
Thayer says participants will also hear from a variety of speakers, attend a luncheon with state lawmakers and will have a chance to chat with Governor Bill Walker at a reception at the governor’s mansion.
Thayer says there are about 30 slots left for this year’s Legislative Fly-In. And he is hoping to finalize the roster during the third week of January.
The trip will take place February 3-4.