The Alaska legislature got off to a running start this past week that was worthy of comparison to O.J. Simpson. To me, Simpson was the greatest running back in college or professional football history. It’s a shame he’s gotten old in prison.
After the required formalities, and getting a lot of bills on the record last week, the governor came out hitting people who didn’t salute his oil tax proposal. He got a lot of chuckles when he tweeted that “Extreme D legislators say oil tax bill goes too far. AOGA says it doesn’t go far enough. Lends cred to argument the proposal is fair.” He’s stepped back to about where last year’s session ended. He was calling people names then, comparing them to chickens.
Also, Legislative Finance Director David Teal said there’s not much room to add money to the Governor’s budget this year. The Juneau Empire reports Republican Parnell has put out the second largest budget in the past decade.
The final big deal of the week was Speaker Mike Chenault’s clarification that his gun possession bill is actually a throw toward “nullification” – simply declaring that a federal action doesn’t apply to us. Back in Georgia we called it “secession” to our friends, or “treason” to our enemies. It will be interesting to watch where this one goes.
Anyway, members will come back to the capitol in fairly big numbers on Tuesday after they all take part in local Martin Luther King Jr remembrances in their home towns. They’ll spend most of their time on “overviews,” committee meetings designed to bring members and the watching public up-to-date on what has happened since the last session. For a lot of members, it’s their first look at the subjects, programs and agencies they will be managing.
Here’s a list of all the upcoming events of the week. You can go through for subjects that interest you. There will be some surprise making the news, but you never know where it will happen.
One of the overviews that looks interesting is the Senate Finance meeting Tuesday at 9:00 that will explain the relationship between the state budget and the federal budget. House Finance will get the same show at 1:30 that afternoon.
For entertainment value, you can’t beat the Senate State Affairs Committee also at 9:00 Tuesday. The state’s Attorney General along with someone from the Department of Natural Resources will open up on a topical subject: “Federal Overreach.” I hope some member asks the AG about nullification once he gets wound up.
Three Free Lunches at Noon Tuesday. Some of these meals are pretty good – and usually they are open to anyone in the building at the time. Frequently the talks are good, too. Upstairs, a presentation by the Premier of Northwest Territories; downstairs a team from the Boy Scouts will demonstrate the robots they have readied for competition. There’s also something about mining in another room.
The Senate has a special committee to take the first look at the governor’s oil tax bill. It meets at 3:30 on Tuesday and Thursday. This is good for basic explanation, but the real meat will come with the Resources and Finance meetings later in the session.
David Teal, the legislature’s permanent expert on budgets through the years will go over the governor’s new proposed budget to Senate Finance Wednesday at 9:00. Teal talked to the House Finance committee last week. He is a thorough, well-prepared expert, and I have never know him to pull punches. This hearing will probably give you all you need concerning the budget until the Committees start putting their own marks on them.
Another Free Lunch at Noon Wednesday. This one is on Electric Energy presented by the Alaska Power Association.
DEC will explain that bill that messes around with the Cruise Ship Sewer permits on Wednesday and Friday at 3:30 and on Friday at 1:00. The permit program has been carefully balanced for a long time so we will see if this bill continues the tradition of equally respecting commerce versus public health – or if someone has written some new bumper-sticker phrases for the governor to use.
I like the robots.