Murkowski pushes Legislature for more REAL ID support in rural Alaska

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, gives her annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday. Behind her, left to right, are Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)

In her annual address to a joint session of the Legislature Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski told lawmakers that the state should do more to help Alaskans get REAL IDs.

“This is going to take state resources, in order to get out to these communities,” she said. “And in fairness, it’s not something that we can just pass the plate and ask for it to be funded. We’ve just got to put the resources towards it so that people can move.”

Rural lawmakers have said the state should put more money toward helping residents get the federally-required IDs by the Oct. 1 deadline. State officials asked in December for donations to bring state workers to villages to make REAL IDs. But the program has been affected by technical problems.

In a press conference after the speech, Murkowski told reporters she’s concerned about President Donald Trump directing money from military procurement and the National Guard to build the wall along the border with Mexico. She said Congress controls the federal purse strings under the U.S. Constitution.

“We as the congressional branch have our powers under Article I,” she said. “And we will exercise them.”

Murkowski said in the speech that the Trump impeachment trial may have been the most deeply partisan experience of her career. She was asked by a reporter whether she sees parallels with the recall campaign against Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Murkowski said she sees Alaska as less partisan than Washington, D.C.

“It seems to me that Alaskans are just so much more practical and pragmatic about what it is we are dealing with that really matters,” she said. “And I hope that we’re able to stay that way. I hope that we don’t let this divide us.”

Murkowski also said federal highway funding legislation will be useful as the state plans for the future of the Alaska Marine Highway System.


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