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Associated General Contractors of Alaska
2022 Legislative Priorities
By Meg Nordale and Regina Daniels, co-chairs of the Associated General Contractors of Alaska Legislative Affairs Committee, and Alicia Amberg, AGC executive director

s you read this article you just might have a deja vu moment. The Associated General Contractors, or AGC, of Alaska has been very consistent and vocal in articulating our priorities to the governor and the legislature over the last several years. Some priorities align with other trade associations. We all want a sustainable state budget: one that is business friendly, builds the economy, creates certainty and jobs. Our major trepidation has been the capital budget; it is typically among the last items considered in the budgeting process and often held hostage to garner votes that are not relevant to the capital budget.

The Legislative Affairs Committee continues to have in-depth discussions on a strategy to convey the immense impacts of treating the capital budget as a political football. With the recent passage of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and other major increases in federal transportation dollars allocated to our state, it’s imperative Alaska meets our 10 percent match portion so we don’t miss out. This may require a much larger capital budget than we’ve seen in recent years.

For the 2022 legislative session, the Legislative Affairs Committee is requesting an “all hands on deck” approach to get the facts and impacts enunciated to all public officials and—more importantly—the residents of Alaska. Our construction spending forecast rollout will happen in February, and our plan is to develop a strategic campaign not only with the executive branch and legislators but also with the public. We intend to demonstrate how the economic reach of Alaska’s construction industry spans the entire state, from the smallest village to the largest city, and how failure to fund a healthy capital budget has a negative impact on each and every person in our great state. We hope you will join us in this effort.

Because the 32nd Legislature did not make much progress on matters of importance, such as a sustainable state budget, responsible resource development, or even a resolution on the permanent fund dividend debacle, you will see that AGC of Alaska’s priorities for calendar year 2022 are very similar to 2021. While the lack of movement is extremely disappointing, AGC remains committed to delivering the industry’s message, loud and clear.

Priority: Sustainable State Budget
AGC supports the continued focus on a responsible, sustainable, and balanced budget, which includes strategies to enhance and diversify Alaska’s economy and support and attract infrastructure investments. A sustainable and predictable state budget is vital for our industry; without it, our industry runs the risk of project cancellations, delays, reduced payments, layoffs and more, which have far-reaching and significant impacts to every sector of Alaska’s economy and our way of life.

The construction industry continues to be significantly impacted by extreme reductions to the capital budget. In addition, failure to pass the capital budget in a timely manner has long-lasting negative effects.

AGC supports a long-term statewide plan that prioritizes the backlog of deferred maintenance projects for state-owned facilities and infrastructure.

AGC also supports the Percent of Market Value approach for balancing public investments, permanent fund dividends, and the state’s budget.

AGC also encourages state leaders to:

  • Prioritize funding for a timely capital budget and deferred maintenance program
  • Maximize state match funds for federally funded projects
  • Give priority to infrastructure development; we support prudent revenue generation to accomplish that goal
Priority: Responsible Resource Development
AGC supports responsible resource development strategies to enhance Alaska’s private sector by promoting and attracting investment in Alaska’s infrastructure and providing economic certainty.

AGC encourages the Alaska Legislature and the administration to streamline Alaska’s regulatory and permitting laws and policies to facilitate additional exploration, site development, employment, infrastructure, research, reclamation, and natural resource production in Alaska. This includes:

  • Minimizing state regulatory burdens
  • Addressing term limits and timelines on permit review processes
  • Supporting legacy projects, recognizing the State’s investment thus far, and ensuring those investments are not wasted
  • Maximizing the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, or AIDEA, and other private/public partnership opportunities to promote and support resource development
Priority: Workforce Development/Education
Workforce development and investment are vital to a healthy Alaska economy, which benefits all Alaskans. Access to a vital, trained workforce ensures Alaska is ready to capitalize on economics for all regions and sectors in our state. AGC of Alaska supports legislation and opportunities focused on attracting and maintaining a quality workforce for the construction industry in Alaska. Recent reductions in program funding have resulted in fewer educational and training opportunities for Alaska’s workforce. AGC supports increasing educational and training opportunities in the STEM fields, both in school and in the trades. We’d like state leaders to:

  • Prioritize funding for one-stop regional job centers throughout Alaska
  • Continue Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, or WIOA Youth, TVEP, and STEP grant funding
  • Promote the hire of Alaska residents
Priority: Workers’ Compensation Reform
AGC of Alaska supports continued efforts to reform workers’ compensation regulations. Alaska’s workers’ compensation insurance rates rank among the highest in the nation, affecting every Alaska employer and making Alaska less competitive in creating and maintaining jobs.

The recent rate reductions were primarily due to the industry’s efforts in reducing workplace injuries and mandating safety as an extremely important part of workplace culture. It’s time for government to do its part. We support a series of changes to the Alaska workers’ compensation insurance statutes, including:

  • Emphasis on return-to-work programs
  • Directed medical care
  • Reform the current vocational rehabilitation program
  • Focus on outcome-based treatment options
  • Address opioid abuse and prescription drug abuse