Jack Ferguson Associates (JFA) has worked on issues and legislation under the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources and the House Committee on Natural Resources for more than 30 years. In this time JFA has forged strong relationships with both the members and staff of these committees; relationships that are key to advancing legislation related to oil & gas development, outer continental shelf (OCS) leasing plans, mining and minerals, federal lands policy, national parks, timber and forest products, and Alaska Native corporations.
Alaska is well represented on these committees in senior positions. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski serves as the Ranking Member (top Republican) on the E&NR Committee. In this position she works with the chairman, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, to determine the committee’s agenda and to ensure that the minority is able to present its views during committee hearings and deliberations. Alaska Congressman Don Young—a past chairman of House Natural Resources—chairs the committee’s Indian & Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee in the 113th Congress.
Federal policies can’t be carried out nor laws enforced without funding. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees control the funding that allows the federal government to function.
The process starts early in the year. After the President presents his proposed budget, appropriations subcommittees examine the proposed budgets for each federal department and agency, hold hearings, and make recommendations on funding amounts and policy priorities. The full committees then adopt and report out the subcommittee recommendations, the House and Senate vote on their respective versions of the departmental budgets, and lawmakers are appointed to serve on conference committees to negotiate final versions of the budgets to be sent to the President for review and signature.
In recent years, the appropriations process has become much more complicated because of a ban on congressionally-directed appropriations items, the increased reliance on Continuing Resolutions (an extension of the previous year’s budget) to fund the government, and a sequester that mandates automatic annual cuts in agency budgets.
JFA follows the annual appropriations process closely, and has worked with many of the veteran lawmakers who chair the committees and subcommittees. In the 113th Congress, both of Alaska’s senators are members of the Appropriations Committee. Senator Lisa Murkowski is the Ranking Member on the Interior & Environment Subcommittee, and serves on the subcommittees for Commerce/Justice/Science, Defense, Energy & Water Development, Homeland Security, and Military Construction & Veterans Affairs. Senator Mark Begich’s subcommittee assignments are Homeland Security, Interior & Environment, Military Construction & Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch, and State/Foreign Operations.
Transportation & Infrastructure
Every six years or so, the Congress passes a national transportation bill that establishes transportation priorities and appropriates funds for programs and projects. For almost a decade, federal transportation policies were set by the Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act–A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), shepherded through the Congress by Alaska Rep. Don Young as the then-chairman of House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
In 2012, SAFETEA-LU was replaced by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which expires in September, 2014. MAP-21 is significant in that it made large appropriations to transportation programs without including specific project earmarks and that it gave authority to the states to decide which specific projects to build with formula-allocated funds.
JFA has been, and continues to be closely involved with the long process of passing national transportation bills and working with congressional delegations to advance client priorities.
Federal policies that affect Alaska Native regional corporations, village corporations, regional nonprofit organizations, and the general well-being of the Alaska Native people have been a reoccurring subject in Congress since the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Indigenous peoples have long had a special relationship with the federal government, independent of state authority. As established through ANCSA and other legislation, the relationship between the federal government and Alaska Natives in particular is even more unique and complex. Though often changing because of new legislation, administrative actions, and court decisions; the relationship also provides opportunities for success in economic development and self-determination.
In the Senate, issues affecting Native peoples are most often considered by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Both of Alaska’s senators—Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Mark Begich—are members of the Indian Affairs Committee, and Senator Murkowski is the Ranking Member on the E&NR Committee.
In the House, the most relevant committee is the House Subcommittee on Indian & Alaska Native Affairs, which Alaska Representative Don Young chairs.
Telecommunications & Commerce
Issues involving telecommunications come before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology and the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. Telecommunications is a vital part of the country’s infrastructure that is essential for contemporary business operations, and impacts every aspect of the U.S. economy. For purposes of committee jurisdiction, telecommunications includes telephones, cell phones, the Internet, commercial and noncommercial television, cable, satellite broadcast, satellite communications, wired and wireless broadband, radio, associated consumer electronic equipment, and public safety communications.
JFA has worked on telecommunications issues since landlines were the only option for reliable phone service, when three large TV networks dominated the airwaves, and when the Internet was only a futuristic dream. JFA’s efforts have encompassed every major innovation that has led to the revolutionized and ever evolving communications system that exists today.
Telecommunications issues are assigned to the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology & the Internet, chaired by Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas (Alaska Senator Mark Begich is a member), and to the House Subcommittee on Communications & Technology, chaired by Representative Greg Walden of Oregon.
The North Pacific seafood industry is a major economic force in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. With the passage of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Management Act (U.S. 200-mile limit) and State of Alaska fisheries management practices, the industry has grown and thrived, becoming one of the most productive, lucrative, and stable fisheries in the world. Periodically, the Congress reauthorizes MSFCMA and uses the opportunity to re-examine and modify federal fishery policies. The committees of jurisdiction are the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee and its Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard (currently chaired by Senator Mark Begich of Alaska), and the House Natural Resources Committee and its Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs (chaired currently by Representative John Fleming of Louisiana, with Alaska Representative Don Young as a senior member).
Given the high degree of federal influence in North Pacific fisheries (through policies, regulations and program funding), the industry is a regular participant in congressional events. Both appropriations and legislation are major factors in fishery management, including determining if fisheries are permitted to open at all. Over the decades, JFA has represented clients from all sectors of the industry at the forefront of congressional deliberations that have established fisheries policies for the North Pacific and the entire nation. With a new MSFCMA reauthorization pending, congressional involvement in major fisheries decisions is an ongoing practice.
The following is a list of some of the more significant legislative acts with which Jack Ferguson and his associates are, or have been, involved. Involvement with this legislation ranges from efforts to secure passage of the entire bill to inclusion of a single amendment:
- Alaska National Interest Lands Act
- Alaska Native Arts Foundation Appropriation 2003
- Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Technical Amendments of 1992
- Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System Act
- Alaska Trans-Alaska Pipeline authorization renewal of 2002
- Annual Appropriations for all federal departments
- California Desert Protection Act
- Coast Guard Reauthorization
- Coastal Zone Management Act
- Deficit Reduction Act of 1984
- Departments of Interior, Energy and Defense Appropriation bills
- Energy Policy Act of 1992 (ANWR authorization and Arctic research funding)
- Energy Policy Act of 2003
- Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization of 2003
- H-3 Legislation (Hawaii)
- Highway Reauthorization Act
- Marine Mammal Protection Act
- Mining Law Reform Act
- NPRA Transfer Authorization to Department of Interior
- Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (ANWR authorization)
- Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993
- Omnibus Energy Act of 2003
- Pipeline Safety and Improvement Act of 2002
- Rural Services Improvement Act of 2002
- Tax Fairness and Economic Growth Act of 1992
- Tax Reform Act of 1986
- Tongass Reform Act
- TransAlaska Pipeline Authorization Act
- Vision 100 Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act