By Dave Donaldson
A bill that would have given coastal communities a bigger say in local development issues was removed from the final mix of bills to be acted on before the Legislature adjourned last night.
The bill had met opposition from the Parnell administration, from industry and from many lawmakers.
Nome Democrat Donny Olson over the weekend said the measure had become the object of hyperbole and was causing more tension than was intended.
There is the perception that we have been delayed, stonewalled and avoided a real discussion on the merits of this bill. As you know, after two years, the Senate Finance Committee has had a lack of cooperation from its opponents. There has been no suggestion of any alternative proposal to solve the issues for local input.
Seeing the bill’s removal as a lost opportunity, he said that Alaska would be paying for the legislature’s lack of action into the future, but he said supporters would take the time to see Alaskans working together.
Rules chairman Charlie Huggins (R-Wasilla) opposed the bill. He said he understands how communities have lost faith in the state, pointing to the Department of Natural Resources, specifically. However, he said he was taking a “Leap of Faith” by going into talks that could lead to some way of improving the problems.
We’re going to figure out how to begin the solution on this with others and look at what the obstacles are. And we know this next session it will be on our agenda.
The bill was returned to the Rules Committee – with commitments for a better reception the next time it comes up.