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2023 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

2023 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

ur priorities as a trade organization have not changed a lot in the past few years. A sustainable state capital budget that moves the economy forward and creates economic certainty and jobs for Alaskans is at the forefront for the Associated General Contractors of Alaska, as well as for several other trade organizations. We will continue to advocate for that and encourage state leaders to adhere to a strategy to work together on the budget instead of allowing it to become a divisive political tool.

We will continue to remind all public officials and residents of Alaska how vital the construction industry is to the statewide economy. More than 40,000 jobs across Alaska are in or related directly to the construction industry, with a total statewide labor income impact of $3.4 billion. It is imperative that we focus on funding a healthy state budget to keep that economic engine running.

Those jobs must be filled by competent individuals, and many contractors know there is a shortage of workers ready to meet the current needs of our industry. Without investment in workforce development and training, we risk losing construction-related jobs to firms from outside Alaska. We will continue to advocate for a strong workforce development and training program to train in-state workers.

With so many new faces in the legislature, we have the opportunity to spread the good news about Alaska’s construction industry. And when we do so, we will continue to talk about our other priorities: responsible resource development and reformation of Alaska’s workers’ compensation rules. 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