The headlines are full of the superficial, ego-building issues that usually passes for making laws this time of the year. But, first, you need just a reminder of reality. The only thing the legislature absolutely must do before they go home is to pass the budgets. Both House and Senate Finance Committees are still making progress – the House focusing on the Operating Budget and the Senate working on the Capital Projects Budgets. Along with those are the supplements and amendments the administration has made to those plans – and to the current year’s spending plan. Here’s a schedule for the Finance Committees and their subcommittees for the week. It might be interesting to check in from time to time – most of those meetings are not crowded.
While I’m at it, here is a complete list of legislative meetings and events for the week.
The one thing no one at the capitol wants to miss this week is Tuesday’s first Senate vote on the Cruise Shit Bill. It is completely unchanged from the way it came into the building – which indicates an unexpected legal brilliance somewhere in the administration…or a product that no one wants their fingerprints on.
As you go into this vote, do not make a presumption of the outcome. It’s really up in the air with three possible results. Most of the usual pundits say the governor could only get ten votes to stop the amendments when it was on the floor last Wednesday. Since it takes eleven votes to pass a bill, the governor will get the victory. A smaller group says the governor can get the eleventh vote from one of the three people who were absent for the amendments. The Cruisers say they already have that vote, but they’re not telling who will cast it.
The supporters are not quite so certain about the supermajority vote the administration needs to pass an immediate effective date. Without the permission of fourteen Senators the bill can’t take effect for ninety days after the governor signs it – sometime the end of May. Ships will have to meet the current, stricter, cleaner standards for the start of the season. That means that a particular deadbeat cruise line will have to actually invest some money in their ships for this season. Their only alternatives are to cancel the season or convince the governor to find a way to exempt them from meeting the standards – but they wouldn’t do that, would they?
So here are the possible results: the bill fails with only ten votes; the bill, with its effective date, passes with eleven and fourteen votes; the bill passes without the effective date and the whole season is as questionable as the output from the Carnival Triumph right where I want to fish. It will be an interesting show for both the first vote and the reconsideration vote. Be certain that arms are being twisted right now.
As for other stuff –
What do you do when you have a wheelbarrow full of bills that show your distrust and hatred of the federal government? Well, you can roll the entire wheelbarrow into the House Judiciary Committee for a meeting of some kind on Monday afternoon.
A lot of meetings, but only a little meaning for most of the rest of the week. There are several hearings on specific aspects of oil tax cuts and in-state gas lines.
The next real item on the schedule is U-S Senator Lisa Murkowski’s annual address to the legislature. That’s set for Thursday at 11:AM. She usually puts on a good show. And, beginning in 2011, it seems she has actually listened to some of the normal people who are at the capitol.
Another non-legislative hearing promises to be interesting Friday at 8:AM. Ira Perman, from the Institute of the North will make a presentation to the House Energy committee entitled “Lessons from Iceland and Elsewhere.” It will be good and thoughtful, and this is one committee where the material might not be wasted.
At the same time the Education Committee will hold a hearing on a Constitutional amendment that will allow a school voucher law – or appropriations to church schools. No comment is necessary here.
The Anchorage Caucus will meet in the Loussac Library on Saturday morning. They’ll hear from the mayor, the school lady and some other people looking for money from the state.
And one final event. Organizers are expecting a couple of hundred guys with loaded weapons in front of the capitol Saturday. Some sort of militia thing that will have military types walking around downtown Juneau for a couple of hours. I don’t know exactly what the purpose is except that they want to prove they can do it. It looks like a TV event. There’s no word yet on whether anyone will be testing for testosterone.