US Senator Dan Sullivan was the featured speaker at Thursday's Chamber of Commerce weekly luncheon.
A packed room that included Juneau's mayor and Assembly greeted Alaska's junior U.S. Senator at the Chamber of Commerce's weekly luncheon, where Dan Sullivan was poised to give a speech covering recent actions by the federal government that affect Alaskans.
Sullivan began by discussing the tradition of the state's U.S. senators coming to Juneau to update the state legislature on progress made at the federal level.
As for what's been done in regards to infrastructure, Sullivan highlighted a recent act of Congress and how much we will get in highway funds.
"In four and a half years, we will be getting close to $3 billion," Sullivan announced.
When it comes to resources, Sullivan says a lot of progress has been made.
"I won't go through the list, but we have made a lot of progress on the resources of tourism, and on resources in regards to mining. We haven't made as much progress as I'd like with regard to timber and biomass, but another area where we made a lot of progress is with fisheries."
Citing the fact that almost 60% of all seafood harvested in the U.S. comes from Alaskan waters, Sullivan referred to Alaska as the "superpower of seafood."
He also discussed a bill that significantly alters how education is governed.
"One thing we did last year that didn't get hardly any press although it was probably the most significant education reform in a generation with a bill called the Every Student Succeeds Act. What's been happening for the past 25 years is there's been a shift towards having control over our education towards the Washington D.C. Department of Education. This bill drastically shifted that trend the other way. That is probably our most important resource, our children and their education."
When it comes to military and Alaska's strategic position, Sullivan says there's good and bad news.
"The bad news is that the international environment is not getting any more benign. That good news is that Congress is recognizing the importance of Alaska. We are the cornerstone of missile defense for the country, with radar stations throughout the state. A lot of Alaskans don't know this, and a lot of Americans don't know this, but as the threat from North Korea and Iran increases, a missile like that threatening us would be shot down from Alaska. There is a significant increase in funding."
Sullivan stated that in this year's Department of Defense Appropriations bill, close to $600 million will be coming to Alaska.