Governor signs bill to pay off $12-billion public pension debt

Governor Parnell has signHappy Day - Governor signs HB 385, 23 June 2014ed into law a bill to help pay off the state’s $12 billion public pension liability. Surrounded by scores of public employees on June 23, 2014, at the atrium of the State Office Building in Juneau, he signed House Bill 385, which calls for transferring $3 billion from the state constitutional budget reserve to the Alaska Public Employees Retirement System and the Teachers Retirement System.

The legislation sets up a 25-year payment schedule with annual payments that are expected to range from $350 million to $500 million.

HB 385 shows a strong commitment to teachers, public employees, retirees, beneficiaries, and dependents – nearly 120,000 people. It also assures that our credit rating stays strong as we embark on bold ventures such as building an Alaska natural gas project.

It was an honor to carry the bill for the governor on the House side. Its passage would not have been possible without the help of Juneau residents Sam Trivette and Tom Brice, both members of the Alaska Retirement Management Board, and retired Department of Revenue Deputy Commissioner Tom Boutin who has advised me on this issue since 2008.

HB 385 - Cathy and Sean 02

Happy day: Cathy, Gov. Parnell, and a newly signed HB 385.

State town hall meeting on Aetna and Moda Health in Juneau on June 10

Cathy floor photo, 2012, web sizeThe state will hold a hearing in Juneau on Tuesday, June 10, on how Aetna and Moda Health are providing medical and dental third-party administration services.

On January 1, 2014, Aetna and Moda Health became the third-party claims administrators and discount network providers for both active and retired State of Alaska employees who are members of the AlaskaCare health plan.

During the past months, many have contacted my office concerned about changes in how health benefits are being administered. Some concerns have been addressed such as pharmacy benefits.

At the June 10 meeting, Aetna and Moda representatives will be available. The event will be at the University of Alaska Southeast Egan Lecture Hall, Room 112.

The agenda is as follows:

10 a.m. – Noon:     Medical panel

Noon – 1 p.m.:       Lunch or individual meetings with Aetna representatives

1 p.m. – 2 p.m.:     Dental panel

2 p.m. – 3 p.m.:     Individual meetings with Moda/Delta Dental of Alaska representatives

Streaming media of the Juneau meeting will be available on the Division of Retirement and Benefits web site for those who can’t attend in person. Instructions and a link to the live feed will be available on June 10 on the AlaskaCare home page at www.AlaskaCare.gov.

Questions may be submitted in advance of the meeting at doa.drb.alaskacaretownhall@alaska.gov.

If you have any questions about the town hall meeting, please contact Brandon Maitlen at 907-269-7255 or at Brandon.maitlen@alaska.gov.

Dental, visual, and audio premiums to go down by 10 percent

Monthly state retiree premiums are going down by 10 percent for AlaskaCare dental, vision, and audio coverage starting July 1, 2014, according to Michele Michaud, the chief health official of the Alaska Division of Retirement and Benefits.

Monthly premium rates will be as follows:

Retiree only                                      $63

Retiree and spouse                      $125

Retiree and child or children      $113

Retiree and family                        $178

The state will send post cards to all covered retirees about this. Those should arrive in the mail sometime after June 25. Retirees will begin to see the new premiums on their July benefit statement which should be posted on July 25.

For more on this topic, go to http://doa.alaska.gov/drb.

At this site, you can sign up for email news and updates.

Aetna, the state’s new third-party health care administrator, has an office in the Sealaska Corporation building in downtown Juneau at One Sealaska Plaza, Suite 305. It is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Contact Kelly Farmer, Aetna’s supervisor here, at FarmerK@aetna.com.

Alaska loses a valuable Capitol reporter, Bob Tkacz

The news of the death of veteran Capitol reporter Bob Tkacz is heart-breaking.

He was known for his hard-driving interview style, but he was always fair.

I subscribed to his Laws for the Sea, which had valuable information in each issue – so much so that one friend once called it the “Value Meal of Capitol Information” because of its content and because Bob didn’t charge as much as he probably should have done.

Bob had integrity, and he will be missed.

Free hockey clinic for Juneau youth to be taught by former hockey pro

stoltze picture, outdoor shotCathy floor photo, 2012, web size

Press Release from Representatives Bill Stoltze and Cathy Muñoz

Free hockey clinic for Juneau youth to be taught by former hockey pro
Alaska hockey great Steve MacSwain to offer class at Treadwell Ice Arena, April 2, 4 pm to 6 pm

For immediate release    March 26, 2014

Juneau, Alaska – Alaska ice hockey great Steve MacSwain will be in Juneau next week to offer a free ice hockey clinic for Juneau youth.

The two-hour class is for students ages five through 12 and will be held at the Treadwell Ice Arena on Wednesday, April 2, starting at 4:00 p.m.

No formal registration is needed. Players simply need to show up at the ice rink.

Steve MacSwain was inducted into the Alaska School Activities Association’s Alaska High School Hall of Fame in 2012. Born in Seward and raised in Alaska, he was a standout hockey player in the 1980s before high school hockey took off in the state. While attending East High School in Anchorage, he scored 104 points in one season. He went on to compete at the University of Minnesota. MacSwain was the first Alaskan to be drafted by the National Hockey League. He played in the United States and Europe. He finished his career at home with the Anchorage Aces, a team that is now known as the Alaska Aces.

Last September, MacSwain held a two-day hockey camp in Juneau and donated an autographed photograph to the Treadwell Ice Arena of the 1980 U.S. Olympic “Miracle on Ice” Gold Medal hockey team.

MacSwain is a close friend of Chugiak Representative Bill Stoltze and Juneau Representative Cathy Muñoz, the organizers of next week’s hockey youth clinic.

For more information, call Arnold Liebelt, president of the Juneau Douglas Ice Association, at 321-3505.

For Rep. Bill Stoltze, call 465-4958.
For Rep. Cathy Muñoz, call 465-3744.

Steve MacSwain, Cathy, and Matthew

Alaska Hockey great Steve MacSwain holding Matthew Muñoz.