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News from Senator Begich; June 17, 2013


Begich Fights to Protect Alaskans' Privacy

Unseasonably warm temperatures across Alaska have many Alaskans focused on picnics, fishing and hiking. I hope the good weather holds until I return to Alaska for the Independence Day congressional recess.

Many of the Alaskans I am hearing from remain concerned about continuing news regarding the government’s surveillance programs targeting innocent Americans in violation of our privacy rights. That’s why last week I quickly co-sponsored legislation to end the secret court rulings on certain surveillance programs.

This bill would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how broad a legal authority the government is claiming to collect information, like phone records, under the PATRIOT Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Alaskans highly value our privacy, and our state constitution specifically protects this right from being trampled on while ensuring national security information isn’t at risk. I have voted numerous times against government intrusion in the lives of Americans, including against the FISA Extension Act and the PATRIOT Act.

I also continue to work with our other delegation members for to find quick relief for the Alaskans suffering from recent flooding along Interior rivers. I look forward to visiting Galena later this summer to meet with flood victims first-hand.

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Senator Mark Begich



Bipartisan FISA bill - Sen. Begich discusses his concerns about federal overreach and invasion of privacy during an interview with Fox News about the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the National Security Agency activities that have recently come to light.



Upcoming Events

July 3, 2013
10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. (Alaska)
Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization listening session
Fairbanks: TCC David Salmon Tribal Hall

July 3, 2013
6:00 p.m. (Alaska)
Alaska Jewish Museum and Jewish Campus grand opening
Anchorage: 1117 East 35th Avenue

July 4, 2013
11:00 a.m. (Alaska)
July 4 Parade
Anchorage: Downtown Delaney Park Strip

July 5, 2013
Travel in Copper Center area

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

August 27, 2013
Anchorage Downtown Rotary luncheon
Anchorage: Dena'ina Civic & Convention Center

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Delegation Urges White House to Swiftly Approve Alaska Disaster Declaration

Senators Mark Begich, Lisa Murkowski and Congressman Don Young sent letters to President Obama and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate last week urging them to approve Governor Sean Parnell's request for a presidential disaster declaration for Alaska communities affected by heavy spring floods. Despite the best efforts of local and state resources, including the Alaska National Guard, greater federal assistance is still needed for recovery efforts. Senator Begich will get a first-hand look at the scene of the disaster when he visits Galena in August.

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Spotlight on our changing oceans - Titanic director James Cameron visited the Senate Oceans Subcommittee to discuss support for ocean research.

Still much work to be done - Sen. Begich received an award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on June 13, 2013.

Begich Continues Fight to Protect Alaska Fishing Industry

Senator Begich introduced an amendment to the immigration bill today that would enable Alaska processors to tap into a pool of guest workers when their efforts to hire at home are unsuccessful. The immigration bill, S. 744, is under debate this month on the Senate floor. "The seafood industry provides many Alaskans with living wage jobs that support their families and local economies," said Sen. Begich. He added, "However, when seafood processors cannot recruit enough employees to work in their processing plants, the entire system is jeopardized. Without adequate processing capacity fishermen can't deliver their catch, families lose income, and communities lose tax revenue. Seafood industry employers must be able to recruit and hire and my amendment will help them transition to the new proposed guest worker program." To facilitate the seafood industry's transition to the new program, Begich's amendment calls for a three-year pilot program limited to no more than 5,000 W-visas in Alaska.

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Celebrating a milestone - Sen. Begich wished happy birthday to Congressman Don Young on his 80th birthday.

Honoring wounded warriors - Sen. Begich with service members from Kenai and Kentucky at the Annual Kenai Air Fair.

Air Force Heeds Delegation Warnings, Delays Eielson Hearings

Begich recently wrote to Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh urging them to heed the Alaska delegation's call to delay the hearings on the Eielson Air Force Base Draft Environmental Impact Statement in order to give Alaskans enough time to evaluate the draft EIS and prepare comments for the hearing. The Air Force agreed to the delegation's requests and delayed the hearings which will help determine the future of the F-16 aircraft currently stationed at Eielson. "The new Draft EIS proposed by the Air Force makes recommendations for F-16s based at Eielson Air Force Base that are neither affordable nor feasible. Alaskans are passionate about this issue and deserve a legitimate opportunity to review the report and weigh in, which is why I'm glad the Air Force has decided to delay hearings until mid-July," said Begich. He added, "The proposal to move the F-16s just doesn't make any sense from a strategic or financial standpoint. I'm confident the community will be able to show the Air Force the importance of keeping Eielson strong."

This week's website features
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Begich Minute: 2013 Alaska History Day Winners

Talking up Alaska with the Squawkers on CNBC's Squawkbox

U.S. Senators Mark Begich, Lisa Murkowski and Congressman Don Young greeted the 2013 Alaska History Day winners who were in Washington D.C. this week for the 2013 National History Day (NHD) competition. Each year more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide, participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics and conduct extensive research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites. Students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. The delegation was very impressed with these young history experts.

Sen. Begich visited the studio of CNBC's Squawkbox this week to talk about all-things Alaska during an interview that covered issues including why proposed gun control laws don't work for Alaskans, drilling in ANWR, the long history of fracking in Alaska and catching king salmon.

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