U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski delivered her annual address to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
In addition to laying out what she sees as the future of Alaska over the next year, she took note of federal and state funding that will soon head Nome’s way. She commended the work of Sen. Donny Olson and Rep. Neal Foster.
“Senator Olson and Representative Foster, with $250 million from the infrastructure law, and the matching funds you convinced the Legislature to approve, we’re finally going to build Nome’s Arctic Deep Draft Port,” Murkowski said. “That’s a huge benefit for your region.”
In addition to the Arctic Deep Draft Port, Murkowski added that projects such as Willow, Pikka, DonlinGold, Graphite One and the proposed Ambler Road are on her radar. Murkowski took a moment to remember Foster’s father, the late Rep. Richard Foster. Neal Foster was not able to be at the address due to inclement weather on the Seward Peninsula.
“Where’s Neal?” Murkowski asked. “Stuck in Nome with a blizzard? Well, I didn’t serve with Neal, but I served with his dad, Richard and (he) would serenade us with his birthday tributes, which were always quite amusing.”
She also spoke to some of the challenges Alaska faces.
“We’ve had ten straight years of net out-migration. Our employment growth was next to last of any state from 2015 to 2021. Our GDP declined and was next to last over that same period. Alaska’s economy is recovering from the pandemic, but at a slower pace than almost any other state out there,” Murkowski said.
In her address, Murkowski also noted that Congress recently reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, secured $300 million for commercial recreational and subsistence harvesters that have been affected by fisheries disasters, and convinced FEMA to lift its cost-sharing requirements to ensure quick and effective responses after Typhoon Merbok slammed Western Alaska.
Image at top: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski addresses a joint session of the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday, Feb. 22 in Juneau. Image courtesy KTOO/360 North.