News From Senator Begich; August 16, 2010
August 16, 2010 Remembering the Legacy of Sen. Ted Stevens The past week has been one of shock and sadness at the tragic loss in a plane crash of one of Alaska's greatest statesmen, Senator Ted Stevens, along with four others known well to many Alaskans. Over his four decades of public service in the U.S. Senate, Senator Stevens was a forceful advocate for Alaska who helped transform our state in the challenging years after Statehood. I knew Senator Stevens essentially my entire life and my father, Nick, served with him when he was Alaska's congressman. Senator Stevens' many contributions to Alaska are enormous and his legacy of fierce devotion to Alaska will be long-lasting. Deborah and I join all Alaskans in praying for Senator Stevens' wife, Catherine, his extended family and the families of the others who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy: Bill Phillips, Dana Tindall and her daughter Corey, and pilot Terry Smith. I am honored to join a delegation of senators who will be attending the memorial service for Senator Stevens Wednesday afternoon in Anchorage.
Senator Mark Begich
Begich Welcomes Coast Guard Commandant to Alaska
Sen. Begich and Admiral Robert Papp are presented gifts by Liz Qaullaq Moore in Kotzebue.
In an effort to increase awareness of Alaska's unique role in the Arctic and the Coast Guard's role in the state, Sen. Begich last week welcomed Admiral Robert Papp, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, to Alaska. Begich and Admiral Papp traveled to Kotzebue to talk to community and business leaders about life above the Arctic Circle, the changing Arctic, the future of energy development in the region, and the role the Coast Guard will play in Alaska in the years to come. The two also met with Coast Guard members at Forward Operating Station Kotzebue taking part in Operation Arctic Crossroads 2010. The Coast Guard is testing the capabilities for small response boats operating in shallow waters, testing the reliability of traditional communications and reaching out to remote villages in the Arctic Region with a team of medical doctors as well as veterinarians. Admiral Papp also traveled around the state visiting Coast Guard installations in other parts of Alaska.
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Operation Arctic Crossroad
In Kotzebue, Sen. Begich and Admiral Papp met with Coast Guard personnel preparing for Operation Arctic Crossroad. The operation is a community outreach effort stretching across Northern Alaska. Participants include the Army National Guard, the Air National Guard and the U.S. Public Health Service.
Begich Holds Commerce Field Hearing in Barrow Sen. Begich will be in Barrow Thursday holding an official field hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The theme of the hearing is "The Changing Arctic and Energy Opportunities." As Chair of the hearing, Sen. Begich will be joined by Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. The hearing will focus on climate change impacts on America's Arctic, emerging energy opportunities, and include a number of witnesses from federal agencies and local community leaders conveying a variety of perspectives on the future of the Arctic.
Talking to Alaska's Military Veterans
In Nome last week, Sen. Begich held two veterans' listening sessions. Joined by representatives from the Veterans Administration, the Senate Veterans Committee and other federal and state agencies, Begich talked to Alaska veterans living in rural communities about the challenges they face trying to access health care and other veterans' benefits. The listening sessions are part of a commitment the VA has made to Sen. Begich to improve outreach and services to Alaska's veterans.
Begich Promotes Responsible Offshore Development With the goals of ensuring American taxpayers never have to pick up the tab for oil spill damages and protecting American jobs, Sen. Begich has released the draft of an oil spill liability bill holding oil companies financially responsible for oil spills and provides four tiers of protection for taxpayers. The proposed bill sets an initial level of individual company liability and requires all companies operating in the Outer Continental Shelf to share the cost of damages above that amount. "This bill strikes a balance between encouraging independent American producers with proven track records to continue to produce offshore oil and gas and holding all development companies liable for spills," Begich said. The bill is the latest in a package of oil spill legislation Begich has introduced to promote responsible energy development in the Arctic by ensuring the federal government has thoroughly planned and prepared for potential oil spills in the region.
Groups Discuss Ways to Improve Health Care Delivery for Alaskans
Sen. Begich meets with members of the Veterans Administration and tribal health organizations at Cook Inlet Tribal Council in Anchorage. The meeting was part of a commitment from the VA to work with tribal health organizations on ways to improve care for rural veterans in Alaska.
Two groups organized by Sen. Begich to focus on ways to improve health care for Alaskans, particularly veterans living in rural areas, met in several communities across Alaska last week to better understand the challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to access benefits and care. The groups have traveled throughout Alaska including stops in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kotzebue, Nome, Galena, Golovin, Bethel, Saint Mary's, Hooper Bay and the Kenai Peninsula. The meetings have included discussions with tribal health organizations, veterans, officials with the Veterans Administration (VA) and other organizations. Begich has been a strong advocate for improving health care for Alaska's military veterans and has brought several federal officials together in the state to find ways to make the system more efficient and cost effective.
Begich Salutes Social Security on 75th Anniversary As many seniors marked the 75th anniversary of the creation of Social Security on Saturday, Sen. Begich is reiterating his pledge to protect the vital safety net program from cuts and proposals to privatize it. Without Social Security, nearly half of Americans age 65 and older would live in poverty. A new "Roadmap for the Future" proposed by Republican members of Congress proposes large cuts to the program. This comes on the heels of President Bush's proposals to redirect Social Security funds to private accounts subject to risky Wall Street investments. As a candidate and now as senator, Begich is committed to honoring America's obligation to its seniors and working for the long-term solvency of the fund.
Salvation Army Community Center Groundbreaking
Sen. Begich spoke at the new Salvation Army Corps Community Center ground-blessing event, Sunday, August 8th. The center will provide afterschool recreational programs and space for at-risk youth. It is centered in an area off the Chester Creek trail, allowing young people to walk to the facility and bypass major traffic thoroughfares.