Congressman Young's May E-Newsletter
Washington, D.C., May 6, 2016
Congressman Don Young Shares a Message with E-newsletter Subscribers (click here to watch).
Thank you for being part of this email newsletter. More than 12,000 Alaskans have already joined me on this endeavor to open the lines of communication, stay connected, and keep you informed on the many issues before Congress. I thank you for your continued engagement, input and support as we work to defend Alaska’s many interests and priorities.
Across many fronts, Alaska and the nation are faced with significant challenges: the slowest GDP growth in more than two years, the spread of ISIS and radical extremism, the deterioration of our federal agencies – including the Veterans Administration, IRS, EPA and the Department of Interior, and the accelerated growth of federal rules and regulations never passed by Congress or supported by the American people. Although these are all realities, I remained focused on finding opportunities to push back against the government-knows-best policies of Washington, D.C; to ensuring the safety and security of all Americans; to restoring confidence in the economy and in the minds of our people; and to making certain Alaskan families and small business have every opportunity to succeed.
Once again, I thank you for being part of this email newsletter and I hope you will share your thoughts, comments and concerns by clicking here.
Thank you and God Bless,
Alaskan Priorities and Interests Spread Throughout House FY17 NDAA
Alaska offers so much to our military; unwavering support for our service members, unparalleled training areas, proximity to the Asia-Pacific, and a mutually shared respect between our Alaska-based military and our communities. As Congress works to reauthorize military funding for the coming year, it’s important that these characteristics remain at the forefront.
I’m proud to announce that this year’s National Defense Authorization (NDAA), which passed the House Armed Services Committee last week, builds upon a number of recent military successes in Alaska. By working with my colleagues in the House, we were able to ensure Alaskan needs and priorities were reflected throughout this bill, including language I offered to protect the future of JBER’s 4-25, meet the needs of the Alaska National Guard, transfer unused federal lands to our local communities, and update the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) procurement process.
During these times of growing global threats, we must ensure our military men and women have the resources they need to serve the mission. This bipartisan legislation works to restore the strength and ability of our military, while recognizing Alaska’s vital importance.
Click here to learn more about the House NDAA, which includes numerous Alaska focused provisions.
Teacher Appreciation Week
As a former school teacher myself, I am committed to ensuring that our nation’s children are provided with the best education possible and much of that begins with the dedicated individuals leading our classrooms.
Sometimes, it takes a tough teacher to put you on the right track, which is exactly what Mrs. McCall did for me in the 4th grade. What I learned from Mrs. McCall was the importance of working hard and earning your success, principles I shared this week with 8th graders from Birchtree Charter School in Palmer – a group that included my two grandsons.
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I must thank the fine educators that accompanied these young Alaskans on this history-focused trip. Because of them and the 8,000 + teachers in Alaska, our students have a bright and promising future ahead.
The last time our email privacy laws were updated the world was a very different place. Google wouldn’t be created for another 13 years, most Americans wouldn’t use text messaging for another 15, and Facebook wouldn’t exist for another 20. The date was October 21, 1985.
While I’m the first to admit that I prefer more traditional forms of communication, I understand the need to bring our email privacy laws into the 21st century – not only to keep pace with changing technologies but to ensure our laws protect the constitutional rights of Americans. Because these laws were written long before the use of the internet or email, they currently contain glaring holes – giving the government the ability to access emails and other digital communication 180 days old or older without a warrant.
Last week, the House took an important step in fixing this violation of privacy by passing legislation I cosponsored, the Email Privacy Act. This bill ensures our electronic communication laws contain important 4th Amendment protections and our law enforcement agencies follow uniform warrant standards when conduction criminal investigations.
In the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, the United States must be ever vigilant in our efforts to ensure the safety and security of all Americans. This must include common sense improvements to screening, security, and risk assessments – not only at home but abroad. H.R. 4698, the Securing Aviation from Foreign Entry Points Act, which passed the House last week, is only one effort we’re taking to enhance collaboration and coordination with our foreign partners to ensure we eliminate risks to our national security.
In addition to this important bill, the House passed two other bills focused on combating terrorist recruitment and restricting the importation of cultural artifacts stolen from Syria – which has become a multi-million dollar industry for ISIS as they destroy ancient cities, loot culturally significant artifacts, and organize operations to smuggle antiquities.
Click here to learn more.
In April, the House passed the Foreign Spill Protection Act of 2015, which ensures that the responsible party, regardless of origin, pays for ALL American cleanup costs associated with an oil spill. Under current law, spills occurring in U.S. waters must be paid for in full by the responsible party. However, this is not the case for foreign oil spills reaching U.S. waters.
With maritime activity increasing in the Arctic, particularly as Russia expands its off-shore operations, it’s important to ensure American interests and waters are protected. If a vessel transporting oil within Russian waters were to ever suffer an oil spill, ocean currents may very well bring that oil into Alaskan waters. H.R. 1684 would force the responsible party to cover all costs associated with cleanup within U.S. waters and upon nearby shores.
As an original sponsor of OPA 90, the law governing oil spill response, protection and liability - which passed following the devastating Exxon Valdez Oil Spill – I am committed to ensuring our laws are updated to ensure all responsible parties (both foreign and domestic) are liable for actions in our waters.
Raising Awareness for FDA’s Misguided Approval of Frankenfish
I have long opposed the marketplace approval of GE Salmon, not only because of the flawed process in which it was approved but for the serious impacts it could have on wild salmon species, ocean ecosystems and the U.S. fishing economy. Last month, Senator Lisa Murkowski and I hosted a briefing to discuss GE salmon and the potential risks of the FDA’s first ever genetically engineered animal for human consumption.
The briefing was an important step in raising awareness for the FDA’s misguided decision, while also building a broad coalition of support for efforts taken in Alaska and elsewhere to institute mandatory labeling requirements for GE fish and seafood. I’ve always said that if this science experiment were ever approved, at the very least the American consumer should be given clear and transparent information about what they are eating.
Holding the IRS Accountable
Most Americans recognize the tax filing process for its extreme complexity and confusion. For too long, the IRS and the American tax code have gotten in the way of hardworking Americans, the rights of individuals, and economic opportunity. The Federal government, particularly the Department entrusted with Americans’ hard earned tax dollars, must be held to the highest of standards. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for the IRS under this administration.
Picking up from previous efforts to rein in the IRS and provide hardworking Americans and small businesses with permanent tax relief, last month the House tackled a number of common sense bills to improve transparency and the operations of the IRS. These efforts included legislation to bring attention to the fact that numerous IRS employees have serious delinquencies on their own personal taxes, and another that prevents the IRS from rehiring employees who were terminated for work related misconduct or fraud.
Lifesaving Road to King Cove
In April, Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan and I hosted a press conference with members of the King Cove community and Lt. Governor Byron Mallott to discuss the administration’s heartless decision to deny the community of King Cove a life-saving, 11-mile gravel road, and options for dealing with the lack of reliable emergency transportation in the isolated community.
Since the administration rejected a 300:1 land exchange (in favor of the government), King Cove has endured more than 40 medevacs, many by our Kodiak-based Coast Guard. Sadly, this administration listens to the nation’s most extreme environmental groups instead of the Alaskans that live and depend on these lands. I remain committed to working with my colleagues, members of the Alaska delegation, and the community of King Cove to find a solution to this travesty.
Alaska Cherry Blossom Princess 2016
It was an honor to nominate Nicole Eldred of Anchorage as Alaska's 2016 Cherry Blossom Princess and to join her in the annual celebration between our nation and Japan. Nicole, an accomplished young woman in her own right, joins the ranks of so many others, including Lisa Murkowski, who have so honorably represented our state in this celebration of nations. As a valued member of my staff last summer, Nicole proved to be a remarkable ambassador for Alaska – something she continued throughout this year’s festival and will do long into the future.
Although Nicole wasn’t selected to represent the United States as Cherry Blossom Queen, she certainly made Alaska proud. To read more about the festival and Alaska's 2016 Cherry Blossom Princess, click here: http://1.usa.gov/1Voqw4p
Congressman Young sharing a video message with 2016 Cherry Blossom Princess Nicole Eldred of Anchorage (click here to watch).
Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Magnuson-Stevens Act
April 13th marked the 40th anniversary of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, an act that “Americanized” our fisheries and created wealth and certainty for our coastal communities and state. As many may know, it was our Alaskan fishermen that spearheaded these efforts – calling upon Congress to develop reforms that protected Alaska’s fisheries resources and pushed foreign fleets off our shores – a fight Senator Stevens and I gladly took on.
As one of the original authors of the Act, alongside Senator Stevens and a bipartisan partnership in the House and Senate, I’m proud to see the many successes under this law – which has allowed our fisheries to flourish, our coastal communities to succeed, and our state to build the strongest and most sustainable fisheries in the world. Because of the tremendous strides made in the MSA, Alaska is considered the gold standard of fisheries management – home to 11 of the nation’s top 20 most value fishing ports; accounting for more than 60 percent of the nation’s seafood.
As a tireless advocate of our fisheries, I am honored to continue the fight of Senator Stevens and countless others as we work to reauthorize the MSA in Congress. I remain committed to ensuring our fisheries and the people that support it are best protected by balancing the biological needs of our fish stocks and the economic needs of our fishermen and coastal communities.
Preventing Crimes Against Veterans
Alaska is home to more than 77,000 veterans – the highest ratio of veterans per capita in the country – and I’m honored to represent each and every one of these remarkable men and women in Congress. My office takes the work we do on behalf of our nation’s veterans very seriously, whether it’s resolving problems with the VA, assisting with individual benefit claims, or eliminating red tape in the federal government. While we’ve taken many successful steps to protect and serve our nation’s veterans, there is always more work to be done.
The House recently passed bipartisan legislation – H.R. 4676, the Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act – to hold people and companies that prey upon our nation’s veterans responsible for their crimes; often a series of financial scams and fraudulent services that target senior veterans and their families. While already illegal to engage in such activity, these crimes are free of criminal or financial penalty. H.R. 4676 changes that by properly penalizing those who knowingly engage in these deplorable actions.
F-35 Squadrons Officially to be Based at Eielson Air Force Base
From the announcement to delay cuts to JBER’s 4-25, basing the Gray Eagle UAV’s and Apache Helicopters at Fort Wainwright, keeping the F-16s at Eielson and now this announcement, it's clear DOD understands that Alaska’s strategic value – its vast training areas, proximity to the Asia-Pacific, and our commitment to serving our military – is unmatched anywhere else in the world.
From the beginning, my case for bringing the F-35 to Alaska has focused on fulfilling the mission. While I’m proud to have played a role in this process, having secured language in each of the last two National Defense Authorization Acts that emphasized Alaska’s immense military value and the benefits Eielson offers the Air Force, I’ve always said that Alaska’s contributions to our military sell themselves.
Push for Permanent Headstones for Alaska Territorial Guard Members, Young Requests VA Policy Change
Many families of ATG members have submitted applications for permanent headstones – which are made of marble, granite and other materials – but have been denied because these graves are ‘currently marked’ with wooden markers. However, since the Civil War, wooden markers have not been considered adequate permanent markers for the graves of Veterans.
The VA should do what’s right and update its policy to recognize the inadequate nature of these wooden markers (being destroyed by harsh weather conditions) and ensure these soldiers – who volunteered to protect Alaska’s coastline from foreign incursion during WWII – are appropriately recognized with true, permanent headstones.
Alaskans in Washington, D.C.
Commander and Senior Enlisted Advisor for JBER’s 477th Fighter Group – Colonel David “Piff” Piffarerio and Chief Master Sergeant Beau Honeycutt – meeting with Congressman Young.
Alaskan students visiting Washington, D.C. with the Southcentral Foundation recently stopped by Congressman Young’s office to get an up close look at Congress and snap a few photos.
Maire Nakada of Anchorage, the 2015 Distinguished Young Woman of America, discussing her pursuit and love of competitive Irish dance – an art she performed at the National Finals in Mobile, Alabama last June (click here to watch: http://bit.ly/21y1ePO) .
Senator Dan Sullivan and Congressman Young with a group of Alaskan middle school students visiting the nation’s capital as part of Close Up.
Congressman Young in Alaska
Sitka Sentinel owner and editor Thad Poulson greeting Congressman Young with his own “hot off the press” edition.
Congressman Young touring the operations center for the Marine Exchange of Alaska to see first-hand the efforts they're taking to provide information, communication and other services for safe and secure maritime activity.
Congressman Young discussing the essential role industries and businesses play in growing and developing the economy at an Alaska Chamber of Commerce “Meet and Greet.”
Congressman Young speaking on a wide range of issues and policies impacting home ownership and housing markets at the Anchorage Board of Realtors meeting.
The Big Lake Chamber of Commerce recently hosted Congressman Young where he discusses actions he’s taking in the House to hold the Executive Branch accountable.
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