Banish these bills

Posted: Monday, January 08, 2001

The following editorial appeared in Saturday's Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

Newly elected members of the 22nd Alaska Legislature have yet to be sworn in, some are even now cruising the Haines Road, or riding the ferry toward Juneau - and already a pair of bills are in the works aimed at shifting the working location, if not the actual seat, of state government.

Rep. Norm Rokeberg, R-Anchorage, zeal for moving the Legislature to his home town is such that his draft legislation is known as House Bill 1, being the first pre-filed in the 40-member Alaska State House. Rep. Scott Ogan, R-Palmer, was slower to turn in the paperwork on his more complicated and - is there any doubt? - more costly statutory scheme for alternating full legislative sessions between Juneau and unspecified municipalities (write in Palmer, please) that would be encouraged to "bid" for the privilege.

Does anyone outside of Rokeberg and Ogan think for a moment that Southeast politicians will allow the Alaska Legislature to skip town without a statewide vote? A vote that would, by the way, merely serve to record Alaska opinions on this divisive issue for at least the seventh time in the state's brief history, more if you count related financing proposals on the same subject.

Only twice in all of those ballot questions, dating back to the 1960s, have voters endorsed moving Alaska's capital from Juneau, an idea solidly rejected at the polls as recently as 1994.

Even if movers were suddenly to claim a majority, opponents are positioned to deflect action. A victory by the movers now would serve only to inspire yet more votes targeting financial or structural aspects of the proposed shift.

How many Alaskans are clamoring to again mount this tired horse?

These time-wasting bills from Rokeberg and Ogan deserve a fate similar to what greeted former Sen. Curt Menard's perennial legislative stabs at replacing Groundhog Day with an official calendar date honoring Alaska's native marmot.

Mr. Speaker, banish these bills into a hole that will never see the light of day.

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