Legislature(2021 - 2022)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

05/05/2021 01:30 PM Senate LABOR & COMMERCE

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Audio Topic
01:30:02 PM Start
01:30:46 PM SJR15
01:54:51 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSSJR 15(L&C) Out of Committee
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          SENATE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                        
                          May 5, 2021                                                                                           
                           1:30 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Mia Costello, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Joshua Revak, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                            
Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson                                                                                                       
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 15                                                                                                  
Recognizing and honoring the relationship between Canada and the                                                                
state; and recognizing the importance of the United States-                                                                     
Mexico-Canada Agreement.                                                                                                        
     - MOVED SJR 15 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SJR 15                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: RECOGNIZING ALASKA/CANADA RELATIONSHIP                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) BEGICH                                                                                                   
04/28/21       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/28/21       (S)       L&C                                                                                                    
05/05/21       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
SENATOR TOM BEGICH                                                                                                              
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SJR 15.                                                                                        
BRANDON LEE, Consul General of Canada to the Pacific Northwest                                                                  
and Alaska                                                                                                                      
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SJR 15 by invitation.                                                                        
KAREN MATTHIAS, Honorary Consul of Canada in Alaska                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SJR 15 by invitation.                                                                        
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:30:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MIA COSTELLO called the  Senate Labor and Commerce Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 1:30  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order  were Senators  Gray-Jackson,  Revak,  and Chair  Costello.                                                               
Senator Stevens arrived soon thereafter.                                                                                        
         SJR 15-RECOGNIZING ALASKA/CANADA RELATIONSHIP                                                                      
1:30:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COSTELLO  announced  the  consideration  of  SENATE  JOINT                                                               
RESOLUTION  NO.  15  Recognizing and  honoring  the  relationship                                                               
between Canada and  the state; and recognizing  the importance of                                                               
the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.                                                                                      
1:31:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  TOM BEGICH,  Alaska State  Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska,                                                               
sponsor  of SJR  15, stated  that SJR  15 is  an opportunity  for                                                               
everyone   to  work   together   on  the   close  and   symbiotic                                                               
relationship  between   Alaska  and  Canada.  He   said  this  is                                                               
particularly important to him this year  as he is the co-chair of                                                               
the Council on State Governments'  Canada Relations Committee. He                                                               
continued the  introduction of SJR 15  paraphrasing the following                                                               
sponsor statement.                                                                                                              
     Senate  Joint  Resolution  15 honors  the  relationship                                                                    
     shared  between  Canada  and  Alaska.  Canada  and  the                                                                    
     United States  share the world's longest  border, 5,522                                                                    
     miles1,538  of which is shared  with just Alaska, Yukon                                                                    
     Territory, and the Province of British Columbia.                                                                           
     Canada and Alaska are both  rich in our natural beauty,                                                                    
     abundant  renewable resources,  indigenous peoples  and                                                                    
     cultures,  history, and  government  ties.  We share  a                                                                    
     border, airspace,  and environment. Together  we defend                                                                    
     North America against external threats.                                                                                    
     Our people  share families, friends,  jobs, and  one of                                                                    
     the most successful  international relationships in the                                                                    
     modern  world.  We  move  goods  and  transport  people                                                                    
     between our  borders regularly. Our cruise  and tourism                                                                    
     industries  are dependent  on each  other's. The  North                                                                    
     West Passage is our shared gateway to the Arctic.                                                                          
     Together we  have built longstanding  collaborations on                                                                    
     economic   opportunities,  health,   education,  energy                                                                    
     security,  environmental  protections,  infrastructure,                                                                    
     and  public safety  issues. We  have worked  to advance                                                                    
     and  sustain the  health and  resiliency of  the Arctic                                                                    
     and northern  peoples and communities  by strengthening                                                                    
     economic, cultural,  and family connections  across the                                                                    
     Trade between  our countries  totals over  $1.3 billion                                                                    
     across  multiple industries  and contributes  to nearly                                                                    
     11,000  jobs  between  us allowing  for  more  than  50                                                                    
     Canadian-owned companies to operate in Alaska.                                                                             
     Our    interdependent    communities    are    uniquely                                                                    
     intertwined,  as  is  Joint  Base  Elmendorf-Richardson                                                                    
     (JBER) with its American  Commander and Canadian Deputy                                                                    
     Together,  Canada and  Alaska create  better lives  for                                                                    
     our respective  residents and citizens. This  should be                                                                    
     formally  recognized.  I   look  forward  to  continued                                                                    
     cooperation   friendship,   trade,   tourism,   culture                                                                    
     exchange, and good will between us.                                                                                        
SENATOR BEGICH  related that  every year  except this  year there                                                               
has been a  reception in Juneau hosted by  the Canadian Consulate                                                               
from Seattle. He and Brandon  Lee discussed last year putting the                                                               
nature of this relationship in  writing. SJR 15 emerged from that                                                               
discussion. He noted  the supporting documents in  the packet and                                                               
thanked the committee for its consideration.                                                                                    
1:36:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO thanked  the sponsor for providing  the handout in                                                               
the  bill   packet  titled,  "Alaska's  at   Large  Congressional                                                               
District  and Canada"  that lists  top Canadian-owned  businesses                                                               
and  exports  and other  information.  She  welcomed Mr.  Lee  to                                                               
provide his testimony.                                                                                                          
1:37:05 PM                                                                                                                    
BRANDON LEE,  Consul General of  Canada to the  Pacific Northwest                                                               
and  Alaska,   Seattle,  Washington,  thanked  the   sponsor  for                                                               
introducing the  resolution and the  committee for  providing the                                                               
opportunity  to speak  in support  of SJR  15. It  recognizes the                                                               
important  relationship  between  Canada and  Alaska.  He  listed                                                               
things  Canada and  Alaska have  in common  including responsible                                                               
energy  producers,  wide open  spaces,  cultural  ties, and  like                                                               
Alaskans,  Canadians  sometimes  feel  that "the  Lower  48  just                                                               
doesn't get us."                                                                                                                
MR.  LEE recognized  Canada's honorary  Consul  to Alaska,  Karen                                                               
Matthias, as  a key link  in maintaining the strong  link between                                                               
Canada and Alaska. He agreed that  Canada and Alaska are bound by                                                               
history,  values,  economy,  and  environment.  He  said  no  two                                                               
nations depend  more on one  another for their  mutual prosperity                                                               
and security.  Economically, Canada  is by far  America's largest                                                               
customer. They buy more from the  U.S. than China, Japan, and the                                                               
United  Kingdom  combined.  This economic  relationship  supports                                                               
millions  of  well-paying  jobs in  all  congressional  districts                                                               
throughout the  U.S. He highlighted  that in  pre-COVID-19 times,                                                               
$2 billion in goods and  services crossed the Canada/U.S. boarder                                                               
every day.  Even during the  pandemic in 2020, Canada  and Alaska                                                               
traded almost $1.4 billion in  goods and services, supported many                                                               
jobs on  both sides of  the border  and the 50  Canadian business                                                               
that operate  in the  state continued to  do so.  These companies                                                               
include  Teck Resources,  Alaska Commercial  Company, and  Icicle                                                               
Seafoods. Together,  the 50 companies contribute  $265 million in                                                               
salaries  for  nearly  4,500  Alaskan jobs  and  they  are  major                                                               
contributors to the  Alaskan economy. In addition,  he said there                                                               
are hundreds of millions of  dollars in two-way trade in seafood,                                                               
metals, minerals, and energy.                                                                                                   
1:39:36 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS joined the committee.                                                                                           
MR. LEE  said as Canada  builds back  after the pandemic,  it can                                                               
look to  U.S. Mexico Canada (USMCA)  free trade zone to  help. It                                                               
is  the largest  economic  region in  the world  that  has a  $22                                                               
trillion regional market  of over 450 million  consumers. He said                                                               
this  landmark agreement  reaffirms that  working together  North                                                               
America will remain the most  competitive region in the world. He                                                               
agreed  with  the sponsor  that  Canada  and  the U.S.  are  also                                                               
dedicated  allies that  collaborate on  homeland protections  and                                                               
global peace and security.                                                                                                      
MR. LEE  identified the U.S.  as Canada's premier partner  in the                                                               
Arctic. Cooperation  is longstanding  on a  wide range  of issues                                                               
including Arctic  science, search  and rescue,  Continental Shelf                                                               
delineation, security,  and the people-to-people  connections. He                                                               
said  he  would  be  remiss   if  he  neglected  to  mention  the                                                               
cooperation  between Canada  and Alaska  during and  managing the                                                               
pandemic to ensure the safety  and security of all citizens while                                                               
maintaining  the  flow  of  essential   goods  and  services  and                                                               
workers.  He cited  examples. He  thanked the  committee for  its                                                               
time and consideration of SJR 15.                                                                                               
1:42:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO thanked him for the eloquent remarks.                                                                            
SENATOR  STEVENS  apologized  for  arriving  late  and  asked  if                                                               
anybody mentioned that Alaska and  Canada share a remarkably long                                                               
common border.                                                                                                                  
MR. LEE said it is something to celebrate.                                                                                      
CHAIR  COSTELLO  asked   the  sponsor  if  this   was  the  first                                                               
resolution  relating  to  the  relationship  between  Alaska  and                                                               
1:43:53 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  replied he can  only say  that this is  the first                                                               
formal recognition  of the friendship  between Alaska  and Canada                                                               
since 1983.                                                                                                                     
CHAIR COSTELLO  thanked Mr. Lee  and asked Ms. Matthias  to offer                                                               
her testimony.                                                                                                                  
1:44:59 PM                                                                                                                    
KAREN MATTHIAS,  Honorary Consul of Canada  in Alaska, Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska, informed  the committee that  she was born and  raised in                                                               
British Columbia.  She said she  was a Canadian  foreign services                                                               
officer  for some  time after  which she  had the  opportunity to                                                               
open the first consulate in Alaska  in 2004. She said the sponsor                                                               
asked her to speak about  the people-to-people connections, which                                                               
has always  been a favorite  part of  the job. She  said Alaskans                                                               
often  relay  that  they  feel  they have  more  in  common  with                                                               
Canadians  than their  fellow citizens  in  the Lower  48 and  it                                                               
warms  her  heart.  Alaskans   have  connections  with  Canadians                                                               
through  family,  work,  and  travel   and  Alaska  Natives  from                                                               
Metlakatla to  Kaktovik share family  and traditional  lands with                                                               
Canadian First Nations since long before there was a border.                                                                    
MS.  MATTHIAS  shared that  she  met  a  group of  students  from                                                               
Nunavik who  were visiting Utqiagvik  during a whale  harvest and                                                               
they were amazed  that while their languages  were different, the                                                               
words related  to the whale  hunt and their traditions  were very                                                               
similar.  She said  that is  despite the  fact that  thousands of                                                               
miles  separate  Nunavik in  far  eastern  Canada and  the  North                                                               
Slope. She said given the  shared climate and geography, Alaskans                                                               
and Canadians can  learn a lot from each other.  She related that                                                               
one  of the  first Canadian  visits she  worked on  was when  the                                                               
Premier  of  the Northwest  Territories  came  to Alaska  with  a                                                               
delegation of  First Nations business leaders.  They came because                                                               
they were interested  in the Alaska Native  Claims Settlement Act                                                               
(ANCSA) and  learning more about  Alaska Native  corporations and                                                               
their structure.                                                                                                                
1:47:26 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MATTHIAS related that just  before the pandemic, the Canadian                                                               
Minister   of  Health   visited   Alaska  to   learn  about   the                                                               
Southcentral Foundation's Nuka System of  Care to see if it could                                                               
be modeled  in Canada. She said  she has also been  privileged to                                                               
attend and get  involved in a number of  cross-border events like                                                               
the  Yukon Quest  and the  Klondike  Road Relay  from Skagway  to                                                               
Whitehorse.  She described  the latter  in particular  as a  good                                                               
example  of  Alaska/Canada/US  cooperation.  She  also  mentioned                                                               
shared  Olympic athletes.  She said  that  she has  also had  the                                                               
opportunity to visit  the shared border post building  on the Top                                                               
of the World Highway between Dawson and Chicken.                                                                                
MS.  MATTHIAS shared  that she  came  to Alaska  for a  four-year                                                               
assignment  16  years ago.  She  learned  she  is not  the  first                                                               
Canadian to  marry an  Alaskan and  decide to  make it  home. She                                                               
noted that  she lives in  district K  so Senator Costello  is her                                                               
Senator. She  said she and her  husband named their son  Elias in                                                               
part because it  is on the border between Canada  and Alaska. She                                                               
thanked Senator Begich  for introducing SJR 15  and the committee                                                               
for its consideration of the resolution.                                                                                        
SENATOR BEGICH said he has great  regret that Ms. Matthias is not                                                               
his  constituent. He  read a  note handed  to him  by staff  that                                                               
     UAF students say their hockey team is so good because it is                                                                
     mostly Canadian.                                                                                                           
He commented that that is apparently a UAF joke.                                                                                
CHAIR COSTELLO  expressed support  for the formal  recognition of                                                               
the  relationship  between Canada  and  Alaska.  She thanked  Ms.                                                               
Matthias and commented  that it is not often  that senators fight                                                               
over a constituent.                                                                                                             
1:51:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  REVAK   commented  that  the  resolution   mentions  the                                                               
partnership with the Canadian military  in the Alaska Command and                                                               
NORAD region,  but he  has witnessed it  firsthand over  the past                                                               
many years. It  has been a valuable relationship  for both Canada                                                               
and  the U.S.  He thanked  the sponsor  for the  very appropriate                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS  said the commonalities  are often  mentioned but                                                               
there  are important  differences that  need to  be acknowledged.                                                               
One  difference he  finds fascinating  is the  difference between                                                               
governments.  He shared  that  he spent  time  with the  Victoria                                                               
Legislature,  which  is  more  closely  aligned  to  the  British                                                               
legislature  than  American  legislatures. He  said  the  Pacific                                                               
NorthWest   Economic  Region   (PNWER)  conference   provides  an                                                               
opportunity to look  at the differences and  understand that they                                                               
both work well.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR COSTELLO noted that  she too is a member of  PNWER and is a                                                               
co-chair of the Innovation Caucus.                                                                                              
1:53:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COSTELLO opened  public testimony on SJR  15; finding none,                                                               
she closed public testimony.                                                                                                    
1:53:18 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR REVAK  moved to  report SJR  15, work  order 32-LS0855\A,                                                               
from  committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  attached                                                               
fiscal note(s).                                                                                                                 
CHAIR COSTELLO  found no objection  and SJR 15 was  reported from                                                               
the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.                                                                                        
1:53:43 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH thanked  the chair for hearing  the resolution and                                                               
expressed hope  that this critical  relationship will  finally be                                                               
formally acknowledged.  In response to Senator  Steven's comment,                                                               
he  said  that  as  the   co-chair  for  the  Canadian  Relations                                                               
Committee for the  Council of State Governments it  is his intent                                                               
to promote  the differences in the  government structures, energy                                                               
resource development, and  to explore issues such  as the railway                                                               
link  between Edmonton  and Fairbanks.  He  said this  is a  good                                                               
1:54:51 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Costello adjourned the Senate Labor and Commerce Standing                                                                 
Committee meeting at 1:54 p.m.                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SJR 15 Sponsor Statement 4.30.2021.pdf SL&C 5/5/2021 1:30:00 PM
SJR 15
SJR 15 Zero Fiscal Note.pdf SL&C 5/5/2021 1:30:00 PM
SJR 15
SJR 15 Letter of Support - Canada.pdf SL&C 5/5/2021 1:30:00 PM
SJR 15
SJR 15 Supporting Document - Canada Fact Sheet.pdf SL&C 5/5/2021 1:30:00 PM
SJR 15