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WASHINGTON, DC â€“ Senator Lisa Murkowski yesterday voted in support of an appropriations bill combining three separate spending bills â€“ referred to as a â€˜minibusâ€™ bill â€“ that passed the U.S. Senate and contain millions for projects and necessary work in Alaska. Murkowski serves on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and 6 different Appropriations Subcommittees.
The ‘minibus’ bill (HR 2112) includes the Agriculture spending bill with the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill and the Transportation-HUD budget legislation. Traditionally, when all the appropriations bills have been combined, that has been called an omnibus spending bill.
Many Alaskan imperatives have been addressed through the appropriations process, including:
Marine Spatial Planning – At Senator Murkowski’s insistence, federal funding was removed from the NOAA program that would have allowed the Executive Branch to dictate how States can and cannot use oceans and coasts.
Essential Air Service (EAS) program:$143 million will be allocated to EAS – a $13 million increase over 2011 levels. This means every airport currently in the EAS program can continue receiving the subsidy for the next fiscal year, and allows over 40 Alaska airports from Gustavus to Atka to have commercial air service.
Sex Crime Investigations: A National Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault of American Indians and Alaska Native Women was established, with $500,000 allocated to create it.
FAA Improvements: The FAA nationwide will receive $3.5 billion in Airport Improvement Programs funds, with an added $10 million to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport for upkeep and maintenance at the state’s largest passenger and cargo hub.
Pacific Salmon Treaty: $9.6 million dollars will fund Pacific Salmon Treaty-related activities and compliance with the 1985 accord with Canada. Those dollars will help maintain stock and monitor fishery activities, and also ensure compliance with treaty conservation and harvest sharing commitments.
Pacific Salmon Restoration Funds – In committee, Senator Murkowski ensured that the $65 million in conservation funds will not strictly be allocated to threatened salmon or steelhead populations, but to restore all Pacific salmon and steelhead fisheries – continuing revenue streams to states like Alaska, which does not have listed populations due to implementing successful sound fishery policies.
Fishery Stock Assessments: $67 million will be disbursed to the nation’s fisheries to provide the most timely and accurate data possible, informing decisions such as quota numbers – an increase requested by Senator Murkowski from the $51 million provided in FY11.
Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS): The federal law enforcement technology program will receive $35 million in federal funds, allowing Alaskan police statewide to coordinate with other state agencies in the Northwest.
Alaska’s Children Get Support: Alaska’s Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Boys and Girls Clubs will see funds from the $55 million in national youth mentoring grants.