By Dave Donaldson
Talks to keep the coastal management program going after July first have fallen apart. Word came in messages to negotiators this morning that the governor had decided to suspend talks to resolve the remaining differences between the administration and developers – and legislators representing coastal residents.
After requesting more information, APRN received a terse e-mail message from the governor’s press secretary Sharon Leighow stating – quote – “the governor’s involvement is ACMP negotiations has ended indefinitely.” Leighow later said the governor felt the talks were at an impasse because he feels the latest version of the bill hinders development – which is counter to what the governor wants to accomplish. The governor’s point person on the issue, Deputy Commissioner of Natural Resources Joe Balash has returned to Anchorage.
The break finds identical House and Senate bills awaiting action before adjournment on Sunday. However, yesterday Attorney General John Burns raised concerns over several points in the bill. Bethel Democrat Bob Herron says today’s talks were set up to look at those concerns. And Herron says he is not giving up on the issue.
We’re going to continue to try to craft a CS for Finance that takes in all the considerations they have shared with us both privately and in the House Finance Committee.
Chickaloon Republican Eric Feige – who was also involved in rewriting the bill — says the most recent version respected what the governor said were principles he would not violate. Those standards were combined with the wants and desires of coastal communities.
In the end we had a piece of legislation that was to the point of dotting some I’s crossing some tee’s, adjusting some language to make sure that the state of Alaska was protected – not from folks in the coastal zone, or folks in the administration, but other entities outside the state that would have sought to use language within those statutes to their advantage instead of to ours.
The bills are still in committee, and Bethel Senator Lyman Hoffman says the legislature will continue to look at them.
For the governor to come up at the last minute and not only does not want to work on the bill or say this or that is wrong I think is not addressing the problem. The people of Alaska want some say on coastal issues and that’s what we’ve been striving for.
Depending on the rewritten version that Herron comes up with in the House, Hoffman says he is prepared to work to send the governor the bills that are now on the table – letting him deal with what he gets.