Alaska editorial: New deadline means Alaska Legislature must knuckle down

Posted: Friday, March 30, 2007

The following editorial first appeared in the Voice of the Times:

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We would like to point out that the 60th day of the 2007 legislative session in Juneau has passed.

Were this Legislature working under a 90-day limit, this lawmaking session would now be two-thirds of the way toward adjournment.

It is clear now that legislators are not going to complete this year's business within the next few weeks. Obviously, despite the posturing by some in Juneau, this Legislature is on a 121-day course - looking at adjournment two months from now, not just in one. Too bad.

Next year, legislators will be under the gun - a voter-enacted law that puts a 90-day limit on the amount of time they can spend in their regular session. Some had hoped, given that mandate, that lawmakers would speed up their activities this year - if for no other reason than to get in training for 2008.

Unfortunately, some legislators are making noises that indicate they plan to ignore the new law next year. Too busy. Too much work to do. Not enough time. Too much this and too much that. To which we say, too much political hooey.

If there are legislators who can't knuckle down to business, can't work in the evenings and on weekends, and can't obey the law, then let them pack their bags and get a job in the real world. There are plenty of others who would be willing to abide by the will of the people and pledge to do all the legislative business necessary in a 90-day time frame.

The limit is nothing new. Alaska legislators in the past have worked under a 60-day limit. Others have done very well within 90 days, before the four-month time frame became the rule.

It's a matter of discipline. It's a matter of mind-set. It's a matter of commitment to doing the job.

Now, 60 days have gone by. We'll see how many remain before adjournment comes.

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