‘This is our time.’ Murkowski calls on legislators to maximize federal infrastructure bill

Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski shakes hands Anchorage Democratic Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson while entering the House chambers to deliver her annual address to the Legislature. Gray-Jackson announced earlier this month that she would be running against Murkowski in this year’s elections.

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Alaska’s U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski delivered her annual address to the Alaska Legislature today, urging legislators to help the state maximize the benefit of the landmark infrastructure legislation that she helped negotiate. The more than $600 million that’s already been allocated for Alaska on everything from the Alaska Marine Highway to other infrastructure investments featured as a the main theme for the day.

“As we gain those benefits, we will be creating jobs, we will restore, we will grow our economy, we will improve Alaskans’ quality of life and we’ll leave a healthier, more resilient, better-developed and yet still beautiful state for our children,” she said. “This infrastructure bill only became law just a few months ago, but it’s already delivering real results. We’re seeing those results to our state. More than $608 million has already been announced for Alaska. This is from the Port of Nome to the Denali Park Road and there’s more to come.”

She implored legislators to be proactive about attaining the additional funds that will be available through grants on everything from improving broadband access to upgrading water infrastructure. That’ll require good grant writers, she said, as well as state funds to meet the grants’ matching requirements.

“To you all, we’ve got the law in place. Federal resources are there. I commend this legislative body for paying close attention to this law. We need your help to build Alaskans’ capacity to apply for these grants. As you’re developing the budget, I urge you to keep these matching grant requirements in mind,” she said, later adding, “We can’t just sit back and wait for an agency to call and ask if you want some of this. No, you’ve gotta be engaged now.”

Other key takeaways:

  • The fast-escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine featured heavily in Murkowski’s speech. She said it’s a reminder of Alaska’s strategic importance to the world, the growing importance of the Arctic and, as always, reason to boost domestic resource production of oil, gas and strategic minerals.
  • She highlighted her efforts to pass the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, highlighting efforts by Cindy and Butch Moore—parents of Brie Moore—to teach children about dating violence.
  • Murkowski, who’s on the outs with the Republican Party, pushed for bipartisanship, not brinksmanship in politics: “Everything’s fragile right now and our first responsibility as policymakers is to make things better, not worse.”
  • Along those lines, she was particularly effusive about Congressman Don Young’s efforts on the infrastructure bill: “He put aside the partisan pressure to oppose the bill in the House and really worked to round up the votes there on the House side.”
  • Would she vote differently on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland? “I’m planning on changing her mind,” Murkowski said, recognizing that Alaska’s woes with the Biden administration have more to do with Biden than Haaland. Would things be different if there was a different Interior secretary? Probably not, she argued, urging a focus on picking smart fights and making the case for the state.

Follow the thread: Murkowski delivers address to the Legislature.

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