House District 6: Louie Flora

This week we are featuring House District 6 candidates’ answers to a group of questions

On Tuesday, Nov. 8, elections will be held for U.S. House and Senate, Alaska Legislature and the Alaska governor.

To help inform voters, the Homer News is spotlighting local races. Last week, we introduced the southern peninsula candidates for House District 6 and Senate District C.

This week we are featuring House District 6 candidates’ answers to a group of questions. Incumbent Sarah Vance, R-Homer, is being challenged by Homer residents Louie Flora and Ginger Bryant.

1. Suppose you are governor and you have a majority in the State Senate and House that would support you on a budget. How would you craft a budget (including an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend) in the face of shifting revenues from petroleum and permanent fund earnings? What options would you consider, such as new revenues (income or sales taxes), cuts in services, or adjustments to the dividend? In other words, how would you solve the issue of a long-term sustainable fiscal plan?

I tend to believe that the best solutions come from a bipartisan negotiation rather than a single party solution.

If I were the Governor I would first amend our oil and gas production tax laws for the North Slope legacy fields to remove all subsidies for pre-planned development. We do not need to provide extremely profitable companies an extra $1.2 Billion per year. I will work with lawmakers to examine better ways to incentivize economic activity.

It is a false choice between a full PFD and adequate state services. Our oil tax structure puts us in an unreasonable position and has to be revisited. I support a full PFD in addition to full state services.

The Bipartisan Fiscal Policy Working Group submitted a report in 2021 which proposes restructuring the Permanent Fund to be a single, constitutionally-protected account with draws limited by the percent of the Permanent Fund’s market value (POMV) with a cap on draws at 50% of the POMV. The working group report proposed that we increase our capital budgets annually, implement budget reductions between $25-$200 million per year, implement one time fiscal measures over a number of years and establish a spending cap. The group also recommended that all parts of a comprehensive approach be taken up as a whole so that it is not whittled down. Read the full report here (it is short)

If I were Governor I would take up an approach as recommended by the Bipartisan Fiscal Policy Working Group and not try to reinvent the wheel.

2. How will you vote on Ballot Measure 1, the question of if Alaska should hold a Constitutional Convention?

I do not support holding a constitutional convention until clear outcomes are identified. There are those favoring a convention in order to make significant changes to the structure of local government. Others wish to get rid of the co-equal branches of government doctrine. Another proposal is to get rid of statewide education standards and school districts. Some changes proposed would make this a much different state than the one we are in today.

The amendment process is a much better and clearer way for us to go about changing aspects of the constitution.

If you support a convention, what would you change or add in the Alaska Constitution?


3. Name three issues affecting District 6.

High Energy Prices, Opioid addiction, Lack of Affordable Worker Housing

4. How would you address those issues?

High energy prices tied to global events like the war in Ukraine and the maneuverings of OPEC nations are beyond the control of the Alaska State Legislature. The increase in oil revenue to the state associated with high prices should go to programs like home heating assistance, weatherization programs, and the Renewable Energy Fund and programs to incentivize heat pumps and electric vehicles. The legislature should investigate potential price gouging by our in-state refiners and consider passing legislation – similar to a bill that passed the U.S. House this spring making it illegal for companies to excessively increase fuel prices. Governor Dunleavy proposed a Renewable Portfolio Standard bill to ensure that railbelt utilities are diversifying their generation to incorporate more renewable energy. I support diversification efforts and railbelt energy reforms as a way to lower electric bills.

Opioids. The State of Alaska developed a Statewide Opioid Action Plan The goals outlined in this report call for Alaska to unite to reduce stigma and change social norms surrounding substance misuse and addiction; communicate, coordinate, and cooperate on substance misuse efforts; reduce the risks of substance misuse and addiction; experience fewer problems associated with drug use; have timely access to the screening, referral and treatment services they need; and to build communities of recovery across Alaska. We must ensure that the action plan is not just another report on file gathering dust. We need to act on the specific goals and strategies. Allocation of funding for treatment and prevention programs in the state budget is critical. The state will be allocated $58 million in opioid settlement funds. I will advocate for the hiring of wellness/substance misuse counselors in our school systems.

Lack of Affordable Worker Housing in Homer is causing some workers to live far from their place of employment – and with today’s fuel prices, the cost of the commute eats into their paycheck in a big way. Housing density and different zoning options can be addressed by local government and the state legislature can fund programs like the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and pass legislation to create incentives for the private sector to develop more affordable housing stock.

5. If an incumbent, cite three accomplishments you’re proud of during your tenure. If a challenger, what do you think the incumbent didn’t do and what would you attempt to accomplish if elected?

By voting against the state budget every year – the incumbent votes against Senior Citizens and the programs they rely on. The incumbent voted against the PFD – including this year’s PFD which was the biggest in state history and means a great deal to those HD 6 residents on fixed incomes. The incumbent voted against funding for a replacement for Alaska Marine Highway vessels. She voted against the budget that put funds toward the Homer port expansion. She voted against pay increases for state prosecutors – the people who put criminals behind bars. The incumbent voted against education and funding for school maintenance. Our district cannot every year rely on our Senator alone to make sure important items get in the budget. From trail projects, to road maintenance these funds are critically important to the district and every year the incumbent votes no. I would vote yes for a healthy HD 6 and support budgets that help our communities, schools, and Senior Citizens.

6. Name a book published you read or listened to in the last year that impressed you.

“Mercury Rising: John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War” (by) Jeff Shesol