Legislators visit chamber

Hawker’s farewell, session recap on agenda


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Rep. Mike Hawker, left, and Rep. Bill Stoltze share a word during the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce luncheon on June 6. Hawker is running unopposed in the August primary election. The legislators joined Rep. Anna Fairclough, Rep. Dan Saddler and Sen. Fred Dyson to give their assessments of the recently-completed legislative session.

MATT TUNSETH

Though he’s soon leaving the delegation, Rep. Mike Hawker says legislators representing the Chugiak-Eagle River area present the most united front of any team in the Alaska Legislator.

“I can assure you there is no tighter team working for a community,” Hawker said in remarks to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday, June 6 at the Bear Mountain Grill in Eagle River.

Hawker’s remarks were a farewell of sorts. After redistricting, the South Anchorage Republican’s district will no longer include parts of Eagle River.

Hawker said his emotions were “bittersweet,” and that he enjoyed his time representing the Chugiak-Eagle River area. He also took time to speak about his recent battle with cancer — which he said is now in “total, complete remission” — and offer encouragement to others battling the disease.

“Don’t give up,” he said.

Hawker was joined at the head table by Sen. Fred Dyson, Rep. Bill Stoltze, Rep. Anna Fairclough and Rep. Dan Saddler. All used the speaking opportunity to give their take on the state of the Legislature in the wake of an often combative session that ended with an aborted special session.

“It was a jungle down there in Juneau,” said Fairclough, putting her spin on the chamber’s upcoming “It’s a Jungle Out There” Bear Paw Festival theme.

Members of the House and Senate were never able to agree on an oil tax scheme, which Fairclough called “disappointing.”

Despite the lack of movement on the oil tax bill, legislators gave the recent session mixed reviews. Fairclough pointed to local projects that got state funding as evidence that the local area, at least, was well taken care of.

“Overall it was a great capital budget,” she said.

Stoltze said he was frustrated by the “embarrassing” oil tax impasse, and said some of his colleagues seem to be okay with dwindling oil and gas production.

“Now the mantra seems to be, ‘We’re fine with decline,’” he said.

As the lone senator at the luncheon, Dyson — a member of the Senate minority — said he couldn’t defend his chamber’s actions. However, he said he thinks Gov. Sean Parnell was right for taking a hard line on trying to get more tax incentives for oil and gas producers.

“I think the governor is headed in the right direction,” Dyson said.

Rep. Saddler, whose district also includes parts of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, told the chamber he doesn’t think a recent Department of Defense proposal to move a squadron of F-16 fighters to JBER from Fort Wainright would benefit Alaska as a whole.

“We’re stronger as a state when we hang together,” Saddler said.

While all four of his peers at the main table will now turn their attention to fall primary and/or general elections, Hawker will run unopposed for his District 27 seat — a fact reflected in his casual attire.

“You noticed I didn’t wear a tie,” he joked.

 

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727.

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