Phillips files bill to move Legislature to Mat-Su

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2002

A bill to move the legislative session to the Matanuska Susitna Borough was introduced in the Legislature on Tuesday.

Sen. Randy Phillips, an Eagle River Republican, introduced the bill to move the Legislature by the start of 2005. Phillips said through a sponsor statement that the bill mirrors an initiative to put the legislative move on the 2002 November ballot.

Alaskans for Efficient Government turned in more than 40,000 signatures on the initiative to the state Division of Elections for certification. Those signatures are being reviewed by the department. A lawsuit also is pending, according to the division's Web site.

Phillips said the move would put the Legislature closer to most state residents, provide easier access to elected officials and save money in the long run.

But groups opposed to the initiative say it is a veiled attempt to move the capital out of Juneau.

Ballot initiatives aimed at moving the capital have come before voters several times. In 1976 voters picked Willow as the new state capital, but balked two years later on approving the $966 million cost of the move.

A similar vote in 1982 to spend $2.8 billion to move the capital also failed.

Phillips' bill was one of a number of bills that surfaced Tuesday as lawmakers faced a deadline to introduce legislation. Other bills included measures on hate crimes, education, consolidating government and taxes.

A bill by Rep. Vic Kohring, a Wasilla Republican, would require school districts with fewer than 100 students to consolidate with other districts.

Senate Bill 323, sponsored by Fairbanks Republican Sen. Gary Wilken, would require regions that are not covered by a borough form of government to do so by January 2005.

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