Legislative Committees took more time this past week for their “overview” hearings. As long as members are attending those meetings are more than the time-killers they might appear to be. It’s encouraging to see people willing to take the time to actually learn in detail about subjects they have never previously studied – or even given a damn about. They might leave with some base level on which to decide about future laws and budgets.
There are many more overviews this week, although some committees are getting down to their assignments. An interesting and surprising notice here: the committees seem to be easing themselves into the legislative pool, not jumping in with the load of hot partisan subjects in their pockets.
Here’s the complete schedule for the week.
A couple of measures will help define the boundary between the state and the federal government, but lawmakers are going gentle into that good night. For example, they are hearing a bill by Tammy Wilson (Monday, 1 p.m.) that would allow the military to avoid Environmental Conservation regulation of their firing ranges. They’re holding onto, for a while, a bill from her that forbids the executive branch from enforcing any action without seeing an explanation of its economic and community impact (HB34).
They’re also hearing (Monday, 1:30) Fred Dyson’s resolution commending the Governor and Attorney General for standing up to the federal government with a potful of litigation. It is, for now, delaying his resolution (SJR6) declaring firearms ownership as “our most fundamental right” and urging Congress to say No to gun controls because – among a couple of Whereas pages
“The President of the United States could turn his attention to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and issue an order prohibiting criticism of the presidency in the press.”
Okay. On to Tuesday.
There is promise for the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee. They have on their agenda (Tuesday, 8 a.m.) an audit of one of those places that no one ever had the courage to look before – the Legislative Affairs Agency. That’s where they keep a huge package of cash that lets various people spend various amounts of money without anyone ever really looking at where it is going. Its budget gets a very superficial, routine audit every year and passes with no question. This is where you find a “professional assistant” with a $152-thousand salary and at least one secretary who is paid $96-thousand.
The House Fisheries Committee is looking at a Real Problem: junk from the 2011 Japanese tsunami that’s washing ashore. We’re hearing bits and pieces of news from places (Tuesday, 10 a.m.). This has the chance of actually putting everything together to where we can understand it.
There’s an interesting update that might come from the Public Safety budget overview scheduled for Tuesday at 10:00. A few people at least want to know how the new air plane is performing. Last year’s legislature gave the department $7.6-million to buy a new KingAir 350 propjet. It was done very calmly and quietly compared to the way Murkowski’s staff messed it up during his term. This year, I only see money in the new budget for spare parts.
The Alaska Coal Association is buying everyone a free lunch on Tuesday. Alas, I have other plans.
The Knik Arm Bridge people are coming in Tuesday afternoon (1:00 p.m.). It’s scheduled as an “update” but don’t be surprised if someone brings up how they need you to guarantee any bond debts they might end up with.
The House Judiciary Committee (Wednesday, 1:p.m.) will open a bill (HB47) that will require you to post some sort of security in case you lose a legal complaint against a permitted “industrial operation” like a construction project.
Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary committee (Wednesday, 1:30) will hear the governor’s bill on child abuse.
The Senate’s special committee dealing with the governor’s oil tax bill will hear from the public on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The schedule by community is on this page.
Of course, you can rely on the normal press conferences and special announcements. They are already starting to get boring compared to the stuff on the schedules.