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News from Senator Begich; July 15, 2013


Begich Fights to Keep Alaska Fisheries Strong

As the Senate resumes work after an Independence Day recess, my memories are still fresh of a productive visit home over July 4th. This time of year Alaskans are focused on filling their freezers with world-renowned Alaska salmon and halibut.  We know it takes good management practices to keep our fisheries strong and to ensure all users—commercial, sport or subsistence—have a voice when we set fisheries policies.

I traveled to Copper Center and Tazlina to get a first-hand look at subsistence fishing on the Copper River and to hear from tribal members of the Ahtna region about their concerns.  Native elder Katie John's legacy lives here in the Copper River area, where local residents take special pride in their traditional and customary ways of life.

I also heard about subsistence issues in Fairbanks during my second Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA) listening session.  I held the first listening session in Kodiak and will hold another in Kenai in August.  As we consider reauthoritization of the MSA, we need to determine how the act can be improved to help preserve our fisheries to ensure strong, sustainable returns for years to come.

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Senator Mark Begich


Honoring Katie John - Senator Begich presented a Congressional Record for Katie John to her family members Nora David, Kathryn Martin and Charles David.  Katie John stood up to the federal government and gave her people a voice—a voice that bureaucrats in Juneau and Washington D.C. couldn't ignore.  She was a true Alaska hero and we are thankful for all she did for us.  Alaska is a better place because of her.



Upcoming Events

August 12, 2013
11:30 a.m. (Alaska)
Institute of the North Week of the Arctic Workforce Development Panel
Anchorage: UAA ANSEP Building

August 13, 2013
6:00 p.m. (Alaska)
Filipino Community Town Hall
Anchorage: Northwood ABC Elementary School (Asian Cultural Center)

August 21, 2013
3:45 p.m. (Alaska)
Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization Listening Session
Soldotna: Soldotna Sports Center

August 23, 2013
2:00 p.m. (Alaska)
Job Corps Commencement
Palmer: Job Corps Campus

August 27, 2013
12:00 p.m. (Alaska)
Anchorage Downtown Rotary Luncheon
Anchorage: Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center

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Begich to Wal-Mart Execs: Don't Let a Label Limit AK Seafood

Sen. Begich showed his determination to protect the Alaska seafood industry from outsider overreach in a letter sent to Wal-Mart's president in which he urged the company to re-evaluate their decision to only sell seafood certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). MSC has come under harsh criticism by Alaska fishermen for their growing logo fees, inconsistent standards and increasing licensing costs.  "Alaska was one of the world's leaders on fisheries sustainability decades before MSC was even founded," Begich said.  "We still are a world leader on fisheries management.  We stand by our record of fishery management.  We stand by our fish.  And Wal-Mart customers should be able to purchase Alaska seafood products—the original sustainable seafood."

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Traditional foods and traditional methods - Sen. Begich visited with Ken Johns at his smokehouse in Copper Center where salmon are  caught and processed using techniques from Ahtna ancestors.

Listening to the voices of subsistence - Sen. Begich held his second Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) listening session in Fairbanks to talk about subsistence issues and how the MSA can be improved to better serve rural Alaskans.

Begich Disappointed with Senate Failure to Reverse Student Loan Rate Hike

Sen. Begich expressed his disappointment after the Senate failed to pass the Keep Student Loans Affordable Act of 2013. The bill would have retroactively stopped interest rates from doubling on subsidized federal Stafford loans while the Senate worked out a long-term solution for college affordability."There is no smarter investment our country can make than in our students, and that's why I'm disappointed my colleagues failed to come together and find a solution to stop interest rates from doubling," said Sen. Begich. "We should be making college more affordable for Alaska students and all Americans, not imposing almost $1,000 of additional debt on students. Big banks should not be getting better rates than college students on federal loans. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle can come together to find a solution to this growing crisis." Discussions are continuing in the Senate for a permanent solution on student loan interest rates.

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Fun on the Fourth - Sen. Begich, his wife Deborah and son Jacob celebrated the 4th of July with a wet walk in the Anchorage 4th of July Parade.

Life on the river - Sen. Begich and  Michelle Anderson, the CEO of Ahtna, discuss subsistence fishing issues near Faye Ewan fish wheel on the Copper River.

Begich Champions Education Programs, Mental Health Aid

Continuing to champion efforts to improve the education system, provide mental health services and increase resources for rural education and health care, Sen. Begich gained critical support for key Alaska programs as the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a major funding bill last Thursday. Sen. Begich used his seat on the powerful committee to support early childhood education programs for Alaska families, including programs to support states' efforts to expand or create high-quality preschool systems for four-year-olds from low to moderate income families and Head Start. "Alaska's education needs are different than the Lower 48 and that is why I fought to make sure this bill provided important resources to improve early education and keep our Alaska Native communities strong," said Sen. Begich. Sen. Begich was also successful in obtaining funding for a program mirroring his Mental Health First Aid bill, which would help community members recognize the signs of mental illness and safely address crisis situations. Sen. Begich has been a leader on the issue of mental health first aid.

This week's website features
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Begich Minute: Visit to Copper Center

Begich to Host Facebook Town Hall on Tuesday, July 23

In this week's Begich Minute  Sen. Begich discusses his recent travels throughout Alaska where he visited Fairbanks, Copper Center, Galena, Tazlina and Anchorage.  Because many Alaskans are working to fill their freezers this time of year, his discussions often focused on fish.  Sen. Begich visited a fish camp in Copper Center, held a listening session on the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) in Fairbanks, and honored Alaska's Katie John who was instrumental in securing subsistence rights for Alaskans.

Sen. Begich will be hosting an online town hall on his Facebook page next week on Tuesday, July 23 at 1:30 p.m. AKST. Check his Facebook and Twitter pages for more information in the coming week.

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