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Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, has joined a bipartisan group of senators introducing the End Secret Law Act, to declassify secret court opinions to make transparent the government’s legal authority for claiming phone records and other information.

Begich said on June 11 that he is “deeply concerned over the reports of the government collecting millions of Americans’ phone records.

“I’ve co-sponsored this bill because we need greater transparency and accountability in our government to prevent overreach and to protect against an unnecessary invasion of Americans’ privacy,” he said. “In the coming weeks I will push for a better balance between protecting our safety and protecting our constitutional rights.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich says he didn’t support a federal decision extending the comment period on a study of large mining impacts in the Bristol Bay region.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency extended until June 30 the comment period on its revised watershed assessment. The comment period originally was to end May 31.

Begich told a town hall Friday that EPA has plenty of material to work with, without the extended comment period. He said more time can mean more politics added to the process.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, has proposed transfer of underutilized U.S. Air Force C-27J cargo aircraft to the U.S. Coast Guard in support of the Obama Administration’s new Arctic strategy.

Begich posed the idea in a letter May 21 to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, saying this would relieve the Coast Guard of the need to buy new maritime patrol aircraft and would result in about $800 million in savings.

That $800 million is about the projected cost of a new heavy icebreaker, and those funds could then be applied to building the icebreaker, he said.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska held a listening session with Alaska emergency response leaders in Anchorage on May 28 to discuss preparedness and mitigation efforts for climate change, coastal erosion, flooding and sea level rise in the warming Arctic.

The roundtable came in response to the White House’s recently released National strategy for the Arctic Region, to give Alaskans a chance to comment, said Begich, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee on emergency management, intergovernmental relations and the District of Columbia.

“Alaska is ground zero for climate change and it is critical that Alaskans play an integral role in this conversation,” Begich said.

In a wide-ranging discussion Memorial Day, Sen. Mark Begich showed that military and veterans’ issues are clearly on his mind.

In terms of people stopping by his office seeking help, nothing can touch veterans’ health care.

“It’s the No. 1 issue,” Begich said during a holiday visit to the Frontiersman office. The office helps veterans, he said, but it’s not the way these issues should be handled. “All we do is triage on these things.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today introduced legislation that would ban bankers from sitting on the boards of directors for 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks that regulate the financial industry.

Co-sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), the bill also would end the practice of letting bankers have a say in the selection of the Fed directors that regulate them. A companion measure was introduced in the House by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

Earlier this week, the U.S. Coast Guard revealed its Arctic Strategy, a document that describes how the agency intends to contribute to the National Strategy for the Arctic Region signed by President Barack Obama earlier this month.

Soon after the Coast Guard released its plan, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, announced his own contribution to the emerging needs of national defense at the top of the world in the Last Frontier: hand-me-down airplanes.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Begich asked Secretary Janet Napolitano to transfer what he termed “underutilized U.S. Air Force cargo aircraft” to the Coast Guard. Repurposed with a new life at a different agency, the C-27J aircraft could save the Coast Guard $800 million, enough to buy a new icebreaker, Begich reasoned.

As the Senate considers a major bill to authorize ports, navigation, and flood control projects nationwide today U.S. Sen. Mark Begich joined with Sen. Lisa Murkowski to offer an amendment designed to spur development of a deep water port in the Arctic by giving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authority to engage in expanded partnerships with local, tribal and borough governments.

“There is a growing need for a deep water port in the region because as the Arctic sea ice recedes, oil and gas development is increasing and maritime shipping is expanding,” Begich said.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, was given the Center for Coastal Conservation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportfishing during a luncheon ceremony Wednesday at the opening of the American Boating Congress.

The award from the coalition of advocates for marine recreational fishing and boating is given each year to a federal legislator who is dedicated to promoting the sound conservation and use of ocean resources.

“When I hear ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ I think, ‘I’m not done, am I?’ ” Begich joked in accepting the award before a full house at the luncheon.

Alaska Democrats have endorsed U.S. Sen. Mark Begich for re-election.

The endorsement is somewhat unusual in that the party typically doesn’t announce its support for any one candidate in a primary.

Party spokesman Zack Fields says the party can endorse in limited circumstances. He says Alaska Democrats felt it important to get their support for Begich on the record early, given the flood of outside money that’s expected in the race.