I’ve done my best these past two weeks to share what I learned as an attorney who started my career on a very contentious case – representing the State in its civil prosecution of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill case. Sticking your heels in the mud and drawing lines in the sand doesn’t end disputes – this one’s over the budget. We settled the state’s case with Exxon for $1 billion in 1991 – though the major damages were suffered by individuals who brought their own cases – and by not talking Exxon used its obstinance and power to drag that case out for two decades.Read more
Today is the 12th day of the special session, with no discernable movement from last week’s status (see last week’s newsletter). Yesterday in a press conference, the Alaska House Democrats set out a path for a common-sense solution to end the special session. We believe this would require a little give and take from all the parties involved and would result in the Legislature being able to get the job done.Read more
Government by Press Conference
There’s been a lot of talk about process in the Capitol the past two weeks. In case you’ve missed it, and you very well might have, legislators are still down in Juneau, trying to figure out if we’re going to have a budget next year. So far we’ve been at that for 12 days of special session, and we’re pretty much right where we started.
Maybe that’s because everybody is talking about process, mostly in dueling press conferences and interviews, but nobody seems to actually be applying a process.Read more
During this morning’s House floor session we rolled through the calendar:
· Messages from the Governor? None.
· Messages from the other body? None.
· Any new legislation? None.
· Anything on the daily calendar? None.
One of my colleagues expressed the feeling we all share when he commented “This feels like Groundhog Day”.
A neighbor recently called my office with concerns about a portion of the 92nd Avenue Grade Separation project, which will lift the New Seward Highway above 92nd Avenue. Associated road work would add on/off ramps onto 92nd, rebuild frontage roads and change traffic flow in nearby neighborhoods. Pedestrian routes and some homes in Southwood Manor would also be affected.Read more
Sunday night around 10:40pm the Legislature was adjourned by Governor Parnell. This constitutional provision has never been exercised before. The Alaska State Constitution states:
Article 2 Section 10- Adjournment.
“Neither house may adjourn or recess for longer than three days unless the other concurs. If the two houses cannot agree on the time of adjournment and either house certifies the disagreement to the governor, he may adjourn the legislature.”
After it became apparent that the Legislature wasn’t going to be able to finish everything and gavel out in time for the 90-day session, the House asked the governor to adjourn the Legislature. Although the Constitution has always allowed the governor to do this if the two bodies cannot agree upon adjournment, it’s the first time it’s ever happened.
When the governor adjourned the Legislature, he also called us back into special session to address specific issues. In this newsletter, I’ll run down the issues included in the call for special session and their status. Things are moving fast right now, so by the time you read this something will probably have changed.Read more
I know you’re frustrated, and I’ve been incredibly frustrated, that we are in an extended session. But It seems like an end to the impasse may be near. So I won’t mention at all that I’d rather be in the middle of a fishing stream than in the middle of an extended session squabble. I will mention – for those of you who believe in needs-based financial aid so people can afford college and vocational education – that today we made some significant progress.Read more