I read in the news media lately about extending the legislative session. I would disagree with the need for longer sessions. Remember this is a public mandate. So is ANGDA (Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority). These are two laws the people wanted and are authorized to do so by our Constitution.
The Legislature can get its work done in 90 days or less. There is no need to extend the session.
More hearings need to be held during the time between sessions to vet issues that need to be reviewed from the previous sessions and issues the leadership knows are coming up for action in the upcoming session.
If legislators find interim work is interfering with their businesses, then a decision has to be made on whether or not public service and one’s personal business are compatible.
Interim work gives legislators the time they need to carefully review complex issues like oil and gas taxation and creating a comphrehensive and equitable energy delivery system for all of Alaska.
To make the best use of the 90 days, I suggest committee meetings need to start early — committee meetings need to start on time. The leadership needs to run a tight ship. Begin the legislative session by placing on the calendar first those issues that affect so many citizens: school funding — both public schools and university, the supplementary budget, the next fiscal year’s budget, public safety and health.
These issues should be addressed early with a strict time frame set and a set time when committees will stop working on bills that have piled up in the various committees.
After closing down the majority of the committees, the only committees that need to keep going are finance and rules to get to adjournment.
And finally, an adjournment plan needs to be worked out early and adhered to.
If this suggested formula is followed, the legislature should be able to get out in 90 days or less.
Legislative leaders and members have to insist on the above methods of getting an early adjournment accomplished by the public keeping the leadership on its toes.
If the Legislature circumvents the will of the people who mandated a 90-day session as well as ANGDA, then what is the meaning of government of the people, by the people, and for the people?
Nels Anderson Jr.
Former state House Majority Leader and former state Senator