Alaska in Brief
Q&A with 2022 Alaska U.S. Senate candidate Lisa Murkowski
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) speaks during a news conference about high gas prices at the U.S. Capitol on May 18, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The Alaska Beacon asked Alaska’s 19 U.S. Senate candidates to answer a 15-question survey about their positions on a variety of issues. Read all of their responses here. Answers have not been edited.
Lisa Murkowski, Republican candidate from Anchorage
Do you believe former President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent?
Should Election Day be a federal holiday?
Don Young was a longtime supporter of statehood for Puerto Rico. Do you support statehood for Puerto Rico?
Did not answer
Should marijuana be legalized federally?
Would you vote in favor of a bill that codifies abortion rights in US law?
What do you think about the overturning of Roe, and what actions should Congress take on abortion and contraception?
I recognize abortion is an issue where many hold deep and conflicting views. I support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health decisions within reasonable limitations, in line with what a strong majority of Alaskans believe. Following the Dobbs decision, I believe congress needs to act to restore a woman’s freedom to make her own reproductive health care decisions without undue government interference and have worked with a bipartisan group of senators to introduce such legislation. Our bill protects a woman’s right to choose, as established by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and ensures access to contraception, as established by Griswold v. Connecticut while also protecting religious freedoms and provider conscience protections. I oppose late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions. I also believe that providers who do not wish to be involved in abortions should not be forced to perform them.
What’s Alaska’s biggest need, and how would you address it?
We face many challenges as a state – access to our lands and waters, limited infrastructure, food insecurity, public safety, workforce, housing, climate, and high cost of living. But for every challenge, we have opportunity because we have resilient people and resources. I have spent my legislative career educating others about the uniqueness of Alaska and working to build partnerships to deliver results for our state. I’m now better positioned than ever to help ensure Alaska has a seat at the table when decisions are made. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and the Health and Education Committee, the vice chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs and the most senior Republican on the Energy Committee, I am able to work with both the executive and legislative branches across party lines to maximize Alaska’s interests.
How should Congress reduce the threat of gun violence and mass shootings?
I recently voted for the Safer Communities Act, which provides historic investments for mental health and school safety. As a gun owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I worked to ensure this new law would help address mass shootings while fully protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. We do not create a national red flag law but we do allow states like Alaska to access funds for school resources officers; telehealth; crisis and trauma intervention; suicide prevention; and support programs like mental health, veterans’ and drug courts. The law allows us to better target illegal gun traffickers and enhances the review process for firearm purchases made by those under 21. This law provides an unprecedented sum–$3 billion—for mental health care and school safety resources.
What steps should Congress take to balance Alaska’s status as an oil state with the need to address climate change?
As long as the world needs oil, gas, coal, timber, and other resources, Alaska should be able to responsibly produce them. We were promised that right at statehood; it remains key to our economic future; and we have a proven record and labor, safety, and environmental standards higher than anywhere else in the world. Climate change is real, and we must work every day to reduce emissions. Alaska should lead the country in all forms of energy including renewables and microgrids. Innovation and efficiency are critical, which is why I led the first modernization of our nation’s energy policies in over a decade, the Energy Act, into law in 2020. That measure, along with the bipartisan infrastructure bill, will help us develop emerging technologies like energy storage; advanced nuclear; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; carbon removal; renewable energy; critical minerals and materials; and grid modernization.
What changes or updates do you want to see in fisheries management?
Alaskans depend on our marine resources for food security, culture, and as the number one private employer in the state. We have enjoyed abundance and fought to protect it for future generations, but our rivers and oceans are at a tipping point. With key exceptions like Bristol Bay, Alaska’s fisheries are struggling to adapt to climate change, plastics pollution, illegal fishing, and geopolitical disagreements. Through my role on the Senate Committee on Appropriations I have worked to pursue resilience by increasing and targeting our research and management funding. We must also streamline and improve our fisheries disaster relief process. I cosponsored the Fisheries Resource Disaster Improvement Act of 2021 and continue to pressure federal agencies to act swiftly in providing aid to our commercial, recreational and subsistence harvesters. We must also continue our work to clarify and improve the federal management process to be accessible and equitable for all Alaskans. Our working waterfronts are the beating heart of coastal Alaska and we must support them holistically with infrastructure, affordable and renewable energy, workforce development, and public-private partnerships that foster innovation in the blue economy. We must ensure that our federal policies also take into account the knowledge of the First Alaskans who have responsibly managed marine resources for thousands of years. I was proud to include coastal priorities, like our ferries, in the Infrastructure Innovation and Jobs Act of 2021 as well as introducing the Ocean Regional Opportunity and Innovation Act of 2022.
Should Congress act to protect voting rights and encourage voting, and if so, how?
The events that occurred on January 6, 2021 must never happen again. In direct response to that day and after months of bipartisan talks, I joined 15 of my colleagues to introduce two proposals to reform and modernize the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for President. This proposal would double the penalty under federal law for individuals who threaten or intimidate election officials, poll watchers, voters, or candidates. This bill aims to improve the handling of election mail by the U.S. Postal Service–which is critical to rural communities–and provides guidance to states in improving mail-in ballot processes where permitted under state law. Voters deserve to know their elections are fair, safe, and secure.
Alaska has the highest health care costs in the nation. What will you do to reduce costs and improve access to services?
It is long past time for Congress to move beyond the partisan fighting over the Affordable Care Act, and work towards solutions that go beyond insurance coverage to address the true cost of care, regardless of who pays for it. We need to tackle prescription drug costs, expand access to telehealth, improve access to behavioral health services, support innovative payment models that work for rural areas, and do more to support our health care workforce and bring providers to Alaska. As a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, I championed successful efforts to ban surprise medical billing, including for air ambulance services. I’ve been working to preserve some of the innovations that came out of the COVID response, including access to telehealth. As a senior appropriator, I have long supported health workforce programs like the National Health Service Corps. I’ve also secured federal funds to support health care construction projects across Alaska, including a new health clinic in Girdwood and emergency department at Alaska Native Medical Center. We must also address the health effects of trauma, which is why it was critical to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and secure funding for water and sanitation infrastructure across rural Alaska.
How should Congress protect the rights of LGBTQ Alaskans?
There should be no discrimination toward anyone at any time. I was among the first Republicans to publicly support same-sex marriage and support repealing the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. I opposed the ban on transgender service members. I introduced the bipartisan Inclusive Aging Act to improve LGBTQ elders’ access to health care in rural communities. Provisions of this bill were included in the Older Americans Act reauthorization, which became law in 2020. Alongside Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Dick Durbin (D-IL), I led the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2022, which was signed into law in March of 2022. This legislation preserved the only federal anti-discrimination clause protecting LGBTQ survivors. The bill also authorized a grant program to provide services for LGBTQ survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Alaska families say they’re struggling financially in a variety of ways, including with child care. What actions should Congress take to support families with children?
I have co-sponsored S. 3899, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Reauthorization Act of 2022. The original program provided funding for low-income families to access child care. The reauthorization would provide parents more flexibility in choosing care; accommodate workforce challenges; support the training and recruitment of child care staff; and create a mixed-delivery system (centers, family child care, homes, faith-based, public, private) for children 5 and younger before- and after-school, as well as summer care for school-aged children. The CCDBG reauthorization provides a federal-to-state funding stream; most recently, $6.1 billion was distributed to states–a $254 million increase over 2021.
What criteria would you use to judge the fitness of a judicial candidate?
Judicial temperament is critical. Litigants and defendants should be confident the judge in their case is nonpartisan and unbiased. A judge should be able to maintain equanimity under pressure.
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