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Today marks a new beginning for Alaska. The start of the 23rd legislative session since territorial days ended in 1959 will see many new faces in Juneau and new tenants in the Governor's House for the first time in eight years.
Alaska's capital city extends a warm welcome to Frank and Nancy Murkowski, and to the new and returning members of the House and Senate, the incoming commissioners, deputy commissioners, department heads and to all the department and chamber staff members who will make Juneau home for the next four months or the next four years.
The future holds the promise that the inertia that has gripped the past two legislative sessions will soon be a forgotten page in Alaska's political legacy. New leadership has been installed in the House and Senate and both parties have pledged to move forward in a respectful, collaborative and open-minded manner.
For the first time in many years, a truly functional working relationship will exist between the executive and legislative branches of government. Partisan posturing over the past two years has essentially ground the effectiveness of our Legislature down to the point where precious little was accomplished. Both parties can share in the blame for this.
Today, Alaska begins a new chapter in its short history. Many new, talented people now join forces with the many seasoned, experienced people who remain to take on the exciting challenge of rethinking and reshaping Alaska's future.
Central to the ideological issues blanketing Alaska's magnificent landscape is the opportunity to re-examine and reconstruct the way our state government is organized and functions to make it more efficient, responsive and responsible to the needs of all Alaskans. The Murkowski administration already has begun this mission with changes in how the Department of Transportation is organized and operates.
The scale of Alaska's state government has burgeoned over the past four decades, while the number of people employed in government doing real work directly impacting real Alaskans has not kept pace.
The sunshine we had hoped for on Saturday for the Arctic Winter Games visit was delivered instead on this historically significant day. Hopefully, this good omen portends the dawning of a new era of cooperation and progress for Alaska.
Welcome to Juneau!