Monthly Archives: April 2005

AARP on Proposed Retirement System Changes

I do not always agree with the AARP on policy matters. However, I think this letter, which addresses the ominous changes some legislators want to make on the alaska public employees retirement systems, is very informative and very accurate. By the way, you can write or call Pat Luby (contact info below) to get on the AARP mailing list so you regularly receive policy analysis, critique, etc. Here is the AARP letter, with the author’s introduction to newsletter readers… Read the rest of this entry

Senator Elton on Ethics

I don’t normally run articles by legislators, but every now and then Senator Elton writes a fine policy piece in his newsletter. This is an interesting and informative analysis “from the inside” about SB 187 on legislative ethics reform. If you would like to receive Elton’s newsletter contact Paula Cadiente, staff, at and ask her to add your name to the newsletter mailing list. By the way, his graphics are often slight-giggle humerous.

SB187 trims ethics panel independence

We’re on the verge of proving that many legislators are no more interested in strict ethical standards than our neighbors are in the relevance of the central tenets of the Pythagorean theory of numbers. When it comes to numbers, our neighbors mostly hope they add up in the checkbook. When it comes to legislative ethics, our neighbors mostly hope we have ’em and if we don’t that there are consequences.

Let me get something straight right now. I believe most legislators do have high ethical standards. I also believe: we need a clear ethics recipe that guides us in our daily behavior; we need a legislative ethics committee strong enough to withstand political pressure and enforce, in those cases where enforcement is necessary, the ethical rules Alaskans expect us to live by; and the public needs to know if a legislator or legislative staffer has been found guilty of a violation. Read the rest of this entry

HB 19 is Sound Public Policy

Here is a copy of an e-mail I just sent. It speaks for itself…

—–Original Message—–
From: Lawrence D. Weiss []
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 6:17 PM
Subject: HB 19

Dear Co-Chairs Senators Green and Wilken, and Committee Members:

My name is Lawrence D. Weiss Ph.D., M.S. My public health degree is from Harvard School of Public Health. I was Research Professor in Public Health at the University of Alaska Anchorage until last summer, when I retired as Professor Emeritus. I am the founder of the Master of Public Health program at UAA.

I have spent most of my professional life engaged in the profession of public health, so I am very interested in HB 19–a Pesticide Right-To-Know bill that would require on-site notification when pesticides are applied in public places. This concept of “right-to-know” is a central and critical concept in public health. Just three years ago, in fact, The American Public Health Association (with 50,000 members) passed yet another resolution supporting the concept of public right-to-know regarding hazardous materials including pesticides and related products. Read the rest of this entry

The Coalition on Human Needs

The Coalition on Human Needs is an extraordinary alliance of national organizations working together to promote public policies that address the needs of low-income and other vulnerable people. CHN also often provides specific information about the impact of proposed national legislation or budget cuts on specific states. A recent CHN analysis notes that “More than one-quarter of all working families in America are low-income (in 2002, less than twice the poverty line, or $36,784 for a family of four). Nearly 39 million people live in working families with this little income, 20 million of them children.” CHN analysts point out that, if Congress gets its way, the plight of these children in the Nation, and in Alaska, will become considerably worse. Here is what they have to say: Read the rest of this entry

The Destruction of Retirement Security in Alaska

SB 141 is a bill that will dramatically weaken retirement benefits for nearly all state and municipal public employees in Alaska. At the heart of it, the bill will destroy the current defined benefits system, and replace it with a defined contribution system. Under the current defined benefits system, public sector retirees are promised certain benefits–a monthly paycheck and health care benefits depending on salary, length of service, and perhaps other factors. These benefits are not influenced by what the stock market does, nor by the savings behavior of any individual retiree. That is why a defined benefits system provides retirement security. Read the rest of this entry