Sullivan: Plenty of reasons for optimism in Alaska
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) on Monday delivered his fourth speech to state lawmakers since being elected in 2014, reiterating tones of optimism shared last week by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) during her annual visit.
Sullivan touched several subjects including those linking developments in Washington D.C. to Alaska: the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; getting clearance to build an evacuation road out of King Cove; adjustments to the Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare.
“First and foremost, we need a federal government that is a partner in opportunity-- not an obstacle,” Sullivan said. “We all know this the feds own over 60 percent of Alaska lands and at various points in our history have chosen to use this control as a weapon to stifle our opportunities.”
He later said, “I disagree with a number statements and tweets made by President Trump, but in terms of a federal government that is finally working to help us grow our economy, we are making significant progress.”
In his speech-- and afterward, in a meeting with reporters-- Sullivan also addressed a nationally hot topic of gun laws following the Feb. 14, Parkland, Fla., school shooting that killed 17 people.
The shooting has spurred classroom walkouts from students nationwide, as well as calls for change from those students who survived the shooting.
“Regardless of where we stand on these issues, young Americans across the country who are speaking out-- some of whom are friends and families of the victims-- deserve to be listened to,” Sullivan told the Legislature.
Sullivan also weighed in on ideas provided by President Trump, who wants to arm teachers in schools. Sullivan added that some changes belong in the hands of state lawmakers, not the federal government.
“I have serious doubts on this idea of what the president has proposed on not allowing gun ownership until you are 21,” said Sullivan, a former Alaska attorney general and resources commissioner. "To me, that would not work in Alaska."
“A lot of the ideas are actually kind of at the state level. Arming teachers, to me, that would be something-- that’s the view for the Alaska state legislature on that. I have my doubts on that.”
During his speech and with reporters, Sullivan stressed seizing the moment, closing out his address just as he started: imploring lawmakers to be optimistic.
“We want to be the land of the future where opportunities are unleashed for our families and children that we can’t begin to fathom today,” Sullivan said. “We are blessed with so many unique advantages relative to other places in the world.
As a postscript to his news conference, Sullivan was asked if seizing the moment carried tones of caution in advance of a 2018 midterm election and a possible power shift in one of two Congressional chambers.
“You just never know how these stars align right now. In my world, if Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were the majority leader right now, 95 percent of the stuff that I was talking about as positive for Alaska wouldn’t be happening. So elections have consequences.”
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