By Adam Pinsker
Channel 2 News
5:17 PM AKST, January 29, 2013
A bipartisan group of 12 House lawmakers is making up the 2013 Legislature's version of the Bush Caucus. The group is chaired this year by Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham), who replaces retired Rep. Reggie Joule.
"We have our work cut out for us, as we always have," Joule said. "Sort of as a smaller subset of the Legislature, we do our best to band together and put our energy toward promoting the issues."
Although the issues are different in rural Alaska from the rest of the state, oil tax reform is something most of the caucus within the 40-seat House sees eye-to-eye on with the rest of the Legislature.
"I think the Bush Caucus is going to be in lockstep with the legislators from Fairbanks, from Anchorage, from virtually every corner of the state," Edgmon said. "The high cost of energy is crippling our state both from a consumer-cost point of view…as well as economic opportunity."
Rep. Eric Feige (R-Chickaloon) says his years as a Bush pilot encouraged him to join the caucus after seeing firsthand the issues affecting various villages.
"Seeing barges on the river, having actually flown in DC-6's full of fuel to deliver to some of these villages, the cost of energy in some ways can be a lot higher," Feige said.
Edgmon and Feige both agree job creation has to be a priority.
“Other than a few either borough, state government or private-sector jobs, there aren't a lot of jobs in these villages,” Feige said.
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