Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, today announced that Jason Hoke of Glennallen has been appointed by the Secretary of Commerce as the Denali Commission Federal Co-Chair. Hoke will replace John Torgerson who has been serving in the role of Interim Federal Co-Chair.
“The Denali Commission came to life under Senator Ted Stevens in 1998 and has since been a catalyst for much needed development across the state. Transportation facilities, clinics, fuel storage—the Commission plays a crucial role in the lives of Alaskans, particularly those in remote communities. And in recent years the Commission has added another important mission: assisting communities such as Shishmaref and Kivalina that are being harmed by coastal erosion,” said the Delegation. “Jason’s background in economic development makes him well-suited to take on his new role to lead the agency. We look forward to working with him in support of the Denali Commission’s goal of improving life in rural Alaska.”
Hoke’s previous work experience in Alaska includes serving as Programs Director for the Ahtna Inter-Tribal Resource Commission, overseeing Energy, Resource, and Biomass projects for Ahtna and its tribes. In addition, he worked as Executive Director for the Copper Valley Development Association, Inc. and served as Tribal Administrator for the Cheesh’Na Tribal Council.
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John Fleming said of Mr. Hoke’s appointment, “I am looking forward to working with Mr. Hoke and continuing the Economic Development Administration’s partnership with the Denali Commission in bringing economic and infrastructure development to rural Alaska.”
Denali Commission Background: The Denali Commission was established by Congress in 1998 to fund economic development and infrastructure in rural Alaska and also serves as the lead agency to assist communities facing coastal erosion, flooding, and permafrost degradation threats. In the FY19 government funding bill, $15 million was allocated for the Commission to continue its critical mission of addressing infrastructure needs in rural Alaska.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Alaska Congressman Don Young introduced the Wild Game Donation Act – legislation to provide hunters with charitable deductions for the costs associated with donating wild game, such as deer and moose. This legislation also provides a tax deduction for meat processors participating in food donation programs, helping to protect against the use of spoiled and unsafe meat. Original cosponsors of this legislation include Representatives Mike Kelly (R-PA), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), and Bruce Westermann (R-AR).
“There is no better place for hunting and fishing than in my home state of Alaska. Despite our state’s great abundance of game, too many children and families don’t know where their next meal will come from,” said Congressman Don Young. “This bill is a step in the right direction to tackle the food insecurity faced by families in Alaska and across our nation. Many of my fellow sportsmen stand ready to help fill the food banks that are essential to the well-being of countless Americans. Twelve million children and seven million seniors struggle with hunger – their fight should be the fight of Congress. I’ll keep working with my friends on both sides of the aisle to help turn the tide in the fight against hunger.”
Washington, D.C. – Congressmen Don Young (R-AK), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) along with Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will help local and state governments protect the country’s 95,000 miles of shoreline.
The Digital Coast Act allows professionals at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to begin a comprehensive mapping process of the nation’s shorelines. Coastal communities will be able to use the data to prepare for storms, manage floods, restore ecosystems and plan smarter developments near America’s coasts, harbors, ports and shorelines.
Geospatial mapping information can be complicated, expensive to collect, and difficult to use without in-house expertise. NOAA will also train decision-makers at the local and state level on how to use the datasets to answer questions about storm surge, erosion, and water level trends. The data will also be available on NOAA’s website for free and easy public access.
“No other state in the nation understands the need for coastal resilience and mapping more than Alaska,” said Congressman Young. “With more than 44,000 miles of coastline, much of which is not fully mapped, Alaska’s coastal communities rely heavily on our waterways and shipping channels to support all forms of social and economic prosperity: goods from the Lower 48, critical transportation needs, search and rescue operations, and the state’s largest private sector employer – our fishing industry. The Digital Coast Act is an important step towards developing a system that supports our coastal communities with up-to-date and reliable information on our coastlines and weather conditions.”
“America’s fragile shorelines are home to more than half of our country’s population and millions of businesses that supply most of our gross domestic product,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “Yet current coastal maps and geospatial data are woefully inaccurate, outdated, or even nonexistent. The Digital Coast Act will give local planners and managers the high-tech data they need to make accurate decisions and smart investments that could save people and property.”
“Wisconsin’s Great Lakes are a great asset for our quality of life and also for our long-term economic security. Our shoreline communities face a variety of challenges to keep their harbors open, their waters clean and their beaches ready for visitors,” said Senator Baldwin. “This bipartisan legislation is about making sure our coastal communities have the resources and tools they need to adapt to changing environmental conditions, maintain healthy shores and make smart planning decisions to support their local economies and way of life.”
“Alaska is facing significant shoreline erosion, threatening coastal communities, infrastructure, and ecosystems. But until recently, our understanding of the extent of this challenge has been poor, inhibiting our ability to develop effective solutions,” said Senator Murkowski. “By comprehensively mapping and surveying our coastline, we can ensure we have readily accessible and up-to-date tools for coastal management, planning, and disaster response. Along with my ocean data bill, the BLUE GLOBE Act, the Digital Coast Act helps give us a stronger understanding of what’s happening along our shorelines and underneath our waters. For a state with more shoreline than all of the other U.S. states combined, what we do with that information is our next challenge.”
This is the sixth time Representatives Ruppersberger and Young have introduced the Digital Coast Act since 2010. Companion bills sponsored by Senators Baldwin and Murkowski passed with unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate during the 114th and 115th Sessions of Congress.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, announced their support for legislation to protect states that have legalized marijuana. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) reintroduced bipartisan legislation, The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, to remove the threat of federal intervention and prosecution in states that regulate marijuana use and sales. Representatives David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) reintroduced the STATES Act in the House. The bill aims to ensure that each state has the right to determine the best approach to marijuana regulation and enforcement within its borders.
“The STATES Act is a reasonable way to balance the interests of states that desire to regulate the use of marijuana, whether for medical or recreational purposes, and those that do not. It establishes that stringent state marijuana regulatory regimes, like those which exist in Alaska, have supremacy over federal drug control laws. At the same time, it does not impair the effectiveness of federal marijuana prohibitions in states that have elected not to legalize,” Senator Murkowski said. “By reinforcing that the states have supremacy when it comes to marijuana regulation, we are eliminating confusion, and more importantly empowering and protecting states’ rights.”
“The issue of marijuana legalization, particularly in states across the country that have made the decision to legalize, like Alaska, is an urgent matter of states’ rights,” said Senator Sullivan. “The STATES Act – legislation supported by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle – offers a state-based solution to areas where state and federal marijuana laws are in conflict, including issues relating to production, sale, distribution, and enforcement, and longstanding challenges surrounding banking and the lack of access to financial institutions for marijuana-related businesses. Ultimately, I believe that the STATES Act will not only provide safeguards and a level of regulatory certainty for marijuana enforcement, but it will also protect Alaskans and the rights of the State of Alaska.”
“As Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus I’ve been supporting a states’ rights approach to cannabis policy for years, and it is high time Congress acts to get the Federal government out of the way,” said Congressman Don Young. “Frankly, our archaic laws urgently need to be reformed. I am proud to be cosponsoring the STATES Act because it not only helps defend states’ rights -- a central promise of our Constitution -- but protects the decision made by my constituents to legalize recreational marijuana in Alaska. As more states continue to reform their cannabis laws, the Federal government must keep up to provide stability to entrepreneurs, financial institutions, patients, and others. I am pleased that Alaska’s Congressional Delegation is now united on this issue, and I pledge to keep working with friends on both sides of the aisle to bring our laws into the future.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) applauded Commissioner Andrew Wheeler’s announcement that the EPA plans to issue a rule in June relaxing air pollution standards for diesel generators in remote areas of Alaska. Diesel generators are the exclusive power source for many remote areas in Alaska. EPA air quality regulations have imposed considerable burdens on the remote communities that depend on diesel generators as their sole source of power. These communities are faced with significant compliance costs as they purchase newer, more expensive generators to meet EPA standards. In January, Senator Sullivan and Congressman Young re-introduced legislation to support these remote communities by requiring the EPA to relax diesel generator standards.
“Today’s announcement is a great victory for our remote Alaskan communities,” said Congressman Don Young. “There is no clearer example of how out-of-touch Washington can be than EPA bureaucrats imposing immense costs on families who simply want to heat their homes, run their appliances, and keep their lights on. Quite frankly, new generators are very costly, and families shouldn’t be burdened by an arbitrary decision made by bureaucrats four thousand miles away. I thank Administrator Wheeler for today’s decision and will continue working to ensure this decision is made permanent through legislation.”
“Many Alaskans live far from power grids that most Americans take for granted,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “The EPA’s existing regulation for these communities unfortunately has made it expensive and nearly impossible in some cases to maintain reliable electricity in communities that rely entirely on diesel to heat and power their homes through long, sub-zero winters. This can seriously risk the health and welfare of rural Alaskans. I’m grateful that Administrator Wheeler is recognizing the unintended impacts of their existing rule, and issuing a more technologically feasible standard that doesn’t put an unnecessary burden on Alaska families and small businesses.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, Alaska Congressman Don Young spoke from the House Floor in support of his amendment to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization legislation. Alaska Native women are over-represented in the domestic violence survivor population by 250 percent. Native villages often lack the tools and resources to protect women from sexual abuse, rape, and other crimes. His amendment helps address the problem by enhancing a pilot program in the bill to expand the jurisdiction of law enforcement to areas throughout Native villages, beyond the largely unpopulated areas currently covered by the underlying bill. Congressman Young's amendment passed unanimously by voice vote.
A transcript of his speech can be found below:
My amendment would improve this bill’s application to remote Alaska Native villages.
Women in Alaska Native villages suffer the very highest sexual abuse rates in the Nation.
Alaska Native women are over-represented in the domestic violence survivor population by 250 percent.
Alaska Natives comprise about 19 percent of the state’s population yet are 47 percent of the reported rape survivors.
Yet Native villages currently lack any effective tools to criminally prosecute the offenders.
The remoteness and isolation of Native villages – most of which are not connected to the road system and only accessible by air – makes it difficult to prevent violence and care for the survivors.
Almost all of these villages lack any form of law enforcement.
It can take days for authorities to fly to a village and respond to an incident, particularly when weather conditions are bad.
My amendment will open the door to a meaningful pilot project to help overcome these limitations by crafting an “Alaska solution” to a unique Alaska problem.
Currently, the bill would create an Alaska Native jurisdiction pilot program for five villages, but only covers Native lands that are largely outside of villages.
These lands are not where most people live, and therefore not where crimes are committed.
My amendment will add jurisdiction for all lands inside Alaska Native villages to cover where the majority of violence actually occurs.
Villages need to be empowered to develop local solutions to these problems.
My amendment is supported by the National Congress of American Indians, the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Tanana Chiefs Conference, and the Bristol Bay Native Corporation.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment for Alaska and reserve the balance of my time.
Click here to watch Congressman Young’s full speech.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Alaska Congressman Don Young cosponsored legislation to break cycles of poverty in Indian Country through smart economic development. This legislation was introduced by Native American Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) and has bipartisan support from Native American Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) and Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA).
Native-owned business development assistance has historically been severely limited, inconsistent, and not directed to business incubation. The Native American Business Incubators Program Act, H.R. 1900, would increase access to capital for business investment and growth through three-year grants with ties to tribal communities, education institutions, and other organizations to expand assistance to a broad range of business sectors and incubation methods.
“My late wife, my children, and my grandchildren are all Alaska Native. To me, breaking the cycle of poverty in Indian Country isn’t just an important policy goal, it’s personal,” said Congressman Young. “This legislation helps empower Indigenous entrepreneurs and boost investment in our Native communities, and I am proud of its strong bipartisan support. Tackling poverty and expanding opportunity in Indian Country will continue to be a priority of mine. I strongly encourage my friends on both sides of the aisle to join us in this important effort.”
“Investments in our human capital, our creativity and our natural ability to build businesses and revenue streams is key to economic prosperity, but often times the resources are not available for Native communities. When I was a young single mom trying to make ends meet, I started and ran a salsa company. That experience could have been so different if there was more access to resources. This bill will make sure future entrepreneurs in Indian Country can build businesses and break cycles of poverty in our communities,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland.
“I am proud to join with my colleagues in introducing the Native American Business Incubators Program Act, which rightly empowers aspiring entrepreneurs and job creators in tribal communities. This legislation affirms that when the right tools and resources are made available, it is possible to escape poverty,” said Congressman Cole.
“High rates of poverty and unemployment have posed significant barriers for business owners in Indian Country. By increasing access to vital resources and investments, our bill makes it possible for Native American entrepreneurs to grow and sustain their businesses and get the tribal community’s economic engine revving,” said Congresswoman Norma Torres.
Poverty and unemployment rates in tribal communities are nearly triple the national average. Federal programs designed to support the social and economic well-being of Native Americans remain chronically underfunded and sometimes inefficiently structured, which leaves many basic needs in the Native American community unmet and contributes to the inequities observed in Native American communities.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, today welcomed a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Sturgeon v Frost, that the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) explicitly barred the National Park Service from prohibiting John Sturgeon from operating his hovercraft to hunt moose along the Nation River in the Yukon-Charley National Preserve in Alaska. In an opinion authored by Justice Elena Kagan, the court upheld the promises made to Alaskans in ANILCA that Park Service does not have expansive rights over state and Native lands.
“Put simply, it is nothing short of a great day for the people of Alaska. There are no better stewards of Alaska’s lands and waters than Alaskans, and this unanimous decision by the Supreme Court pushes back against what my constituents have always known as heavy-handed government overreach by the National Park Service,” said Congressman Don Young. “During its inception, Senator Ted Stevens and I worked hard to make ANILCA fair to sportsmen, Native communities, and energy developers. Our legislation was intentionally written so that the Alaskan people wouldn’t need to ask the Federal government for permission to use the lands they had been stewards of for generations. Today’s decision by the Supreme Court finally settles a longstanding question about the Federal government’s role in implementing ANILCA, secures Alaskan sovereignty, and keeps bureaucratic hands off our lands. I am pleased that this decision also does not interfere with the subsistence rights long fought for by Katie John and other dedicated Alaskan leaders. I am grateful to Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Dan Sullivan for their partnership in this fight, and I thank the Supreme Court for reaching a decision that I know would make Senator Stevens proud. I congratulate John Sturgeon on his well-fought victory and hope he wastes no time in revving up his hovercraft.”
“This is a great decision – and an outstanding victory – for all Alaskans. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of John Sturgeon, holding that the National Park Service cannot regulate hovercraft use on the Nation River, and did not disturb the Katie John decisions. The Court upheld what we know – that Alaska is the exception, a unique place with unique laws where federal agencies do not have absolute, unilateral control over state and Native lands and waters,” Senator Murkowski said. “I congratulate Mr. Sturgeon, thank him and all who supported him for their perseverance during the years of legal battle that led to this decision, and wish him happy hunting this September.”
“The Supreme Court’s ruling is a historic win for John Sturgeon and for all Alaskans,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “The decision restores the promises made to Alaskans in the Statehood Act, and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. These are promises that federal agencies and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals—which has once again proven out of touch with rural states like Alaska—have been eroding. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision clearly establishes what the State of Alaska and John Sturgeon have been saying all along: Alaska is unique, and ANILCA was drafted to reflect our uniqueness—namely that the Park Service does not replace local control of state, Alaska Native corporation, and private property within federal conservation units. We can’t thank John Sturgeon enough for bringing his case to the Supreme Court. This case may be portrayed as one small step for a moose hunter, but it’s truly one giant leap for the State of Alaska.”
Background: In November, 2015, the Alaska Congressional Delegation submitted an amicus brief in support of John Sturgeon the first time the Supreme Court heard his case.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Alaska Congressman Don Young, member of the House Missile Defense Caucus, released the following statement in response to a successful test of ground-based interceptors over the Pacific Ocean by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Congressman Young has successfully worked with the Alaska Delegation to secure over $2.1 billion for Ballistic Missile Defense installations, including $200 million for the missile field currently under construction at Fort Greely.
“For years, adversaries like Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China have been accelerating their ballistic missile programs with the goal of creating weapons that can reach the United States. If we are to adequately protect our homeland, it is critical that the United States support and expand our ground-based missile defense infrastructure. Today’s successful test over the Pacific by MDA further emphasizes the value of missile defense interceptors to our national security, and I will continue advocating for our nation’s missile defense sites.”
“The State of Alaska is unique to our national defense posture, as its geographic position allows our missile defense site at Fort Greely to protect all 50 states. Twenty years ago, I spearheaded the passage of the All-American Resolution – language that was critical to bringing a Ballistic Missile Defense System to Fort Greely. We can all be proud of our unique role in protecting American families, and now is not the time to let up in our commitment to Ballistic Missile Defense. Though we hope to never have to use them, they remain vital to deterring rogue regimes. I will continue leading efforts in Congress to defend our homeland and support our Missile Defense Systems.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University announced that Alaska Congressman Don Young has once again been recognized as one of the most bipartisan Members of Congress. This distinction is determined using the Lugar Center’s “Bipartisan Index Ranking,” which measures the degree to which Members of Congress work across party lines.
Congressman Don Young has consistently been recognized for his bipartisanship, and was featured in the Lugar Center’s previous Bipartisan Index Rankings for the first half of the 115th Congress. 2019’s report of the second half of the 115th Congress highlights an improvement from Congressman Young’s already impressive ranking. Congressman Young is now ranked in the top 6% of all Members of Congress for bipartisanship. Full rankings can be found here.
“Alaskans deserve a Congressman who knows how to secure important wins for the unique needs of our state,” said Congressman Young. “Working with my friends across the aisle is incredibly important to me. I have always said that legislating often means that no one side will get 100% of what they want. Recognizing this is essential to promoting good governance and providing strong representation for constituents. Bipartisanship has been critical to securing some of the biggest wins for our state, and during my career I've made sure to always put Alaska first. In the 116th Congress and beyond, I intend to continue consensus building and prioritizing relationships with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to give Alaskans an even bigger seat at the table.”
In addition to being recognized for his commitment to bipartisanship, Congressman Young was recently identified by the Center for Effective Lawmaking as being the most effective Member of Congress. This accomplishment is even more impressive given that fact that Congressman Young did not hold a leadership position or committee Chairmanship during the 115th Congress. Click here to read more.
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Congressman Don Young was re-elected to the 113th Congress in 2012 to serve his 21st term as Alaska’s only Representative to the United States House of Representatives. First sworn in as a freshman to the 93rd Congress after winning a special election on March 6, 1973, Congressman Young is today the 1st ranking Republican member and the the 4th ranking overall member of the House of Representatives.
Congressman Young served as Chairman of the House Resources Committee from 1995 to 2001 and then as the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2001-2007. In the 110th Congress, Representative Young returned to the helm of the Resources Committee to lead his fellow Republicans as the Ranking Member. In the 112th Congress, he was chosen to serve as the Chairman for the Subcommittee on Alaska Native and Indian Affairs. Rep. Young currently serves as a senior Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and House Natural Resources Committee.
Congressman Young calls Fort Yukon, Alaska home; a remote village of approximately 700 people located 7 miles above the Arctic Circle in Alaska’s central interior region. Born on June 9, 1933 in Meridian, California, he earned his associate degree at Yuba Junior College in 1952, and his bachelor’s degree in teaching at Chico State College in 1958. Between earning these degrees, he served in the US Army’s 41st Tank Battalion from 1955 to 1957.
When he first moved to Alaska, Congressman Young made a living in construction and tried his hand at commercial fishing, trapping, and in the search for gold. In Fort Yukon he taught in a 25-student, 5th grade elementary class in the Bureau of Indian Affairs school. Constructed of logs, the school had a wood stove that kept his Alaska Native students warm in the sub-freezing, arctic winter. With the annual spring break-up of the river ice, he captained his own tug and barge operation to deliver products and supplies to villages along the Yukon River. Even today, he remains the only licensed mariner in Congress.
It was in Fort Yukon that Rep. Young met and married a young bookkeeper named Lu. Lu was always at the Congressman’s side and supported him throughout his public service career. Lu and Don were married for 46 years, they were blessed with and raised two daughters, Joni and Dawn, and 14 grandchildren. Mrs. Young passed away on August 2, 2009.
Congressman Young first entered public service in 1964 when he was elected Mayor of Fort Yukon. Two years later, Alaskan voters elected him to the State Legislature in Juneau where he served in the State House from 1966 to 1970, and later in the State Senate from 1970 to 1973. Just hours after being sworn in to United States House of Representatives in 1973, he found himself leading the historic battle for approval of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Often citing this as the single most important achievement in his career, Congressman Young stated, “Next to statehood itself, the most historical legislation passed that affected every Alaskan then, now, and in the future, was the passage of the pipeline legislation.”
That same year, his colleagues honored him as the “Freshman Congressman of the Year.” He went on to gain a key appointment on the then Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee where he pushed through the 200-mile fishing limit critical to Alaska’s fishing industry. He fought against federal control of lands and resources to which Alaskans are rightfully entitled – a battle he continues today with the same vigor. In 1997, he passed by a 419-1 vote, the National Wildlife Improvement Act, which sets guidelines for the nation’s 500-plus wildlife refuges.
Congressman Young proudly serves as the “Congressman for All Alaska” and loves his role as the only Alaskan Representative in Congress. Renewed by the challenges and goals of the 111th Congress and his committee positions, Congressman Young will continue to champion legislation and funding for programs benefiting Alaska and the nation. His vision remains the same – to provide citizens with the opportunity for a better life not just for today, but also for tomorrow and the future.
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