Don’t be fooled by the quiet at the capitol this week. The Show will be back next week. This is the time for the people responsible for the future of Alaska to go to Washington D-C to enjoy the comforts of a good meal and good wine paid for by someone else – either You or the lobbyists who attend the Energy Conference. In the past, a few have been invited to the White House, but I think they only got Pepsi and cheese crackers there.
Think of it as a gift to us, the people responsible for their winning the free trip. They promise to leave us alone for at least three days. Before they close down, it looks like a couple of days that might sometime be remembered as “before the flood.”
Here’s a schedule for the entire week. You only need to focus on just a couple of days.
I don’t know which is more important, but you have to hold your breath and watch both Mark Begich’s annual speech to the legislature as well as another hearing on the governor’s oil tax bill — SB21 – by the Senate Finance Committee. Both are Monday morning. I was going to make some rude comments on both events – like the Begich pep rally against gun control, or the Senate taking a moment of silence to remember last year’s battle over half-baked taxes. I just don’t care, though.
You might stand by to watch the Senate to take a sprint through this bill, though. They have scheduled three days of hearings on explanations and the need for the tax changes – followed by public testimony on their product. Looks like there’s not a lot of room for thought in that little time.
The more interesting event of the week is the accumulation of House Finance Subcommittee recommendations on the operating budget. That’s on Monday afternoon. I read that there’s a lot of weird stuff in there – as if the Junior Cadets are trying to show off for the big boys – with cuts that really need a lot of explanation. That won’t happen Monday, of course. The problem is that we are hearing only a few highlights, some of which have proven unreliable.
Learning what you can at the Monday Finance meeting will be the best way to prepare for the public testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday. Here is the schedule for that. It’s the same for listening and testifying.
The Senate seems to be having fun with the Anti-Abortion bill – SB49 – so they’ve scheduled two days of public testimony on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. It might get loud.
Another option to watch on Tuesday afternoon is a joint meeting of the House and Senate Transportation Committees. They’re talking about ferries again. By the way, I really want to know some basics about the Anchorage-based architect who designed the odd thing that’s in the works now. I want to know if he has actually designed a cold-weather ferry before, if he has actually traveled by ferry in Southeast and the Aleutians, what church he goes to, how he got this assignment and what his goal was – just kidding, I don’t care what his goal was.
From then on, you can take the rest of the week off. We are safe from government encroachment in our lives. Just be ready for awful stuff to begin next week .