Legislative reflections

Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2003

I am very proud of Juneau's legislative delegates. Reps. Bruce Weyhrauch and Beth Kerttula and Sen. Kim Elton have been level-headed, effective legislators. Elton grabbed attention with his lone vote against another ANWR resolution. Some looked at it as an act of selfishness. I thought it was an act of conviction and resolution. Elton also worked extensively on Alaska's economy, working with Ben Stevens on the salmon industry.

Kerttula is building her voice in the House. She valiantly worked to preserve Alyeska Central School. Although her amendment didn't pass the House, her leadership provided the groundwork for more work in the Senate. She first introduced a breast/cervical cancer bill. Eventually, it took a Republican version to pass the Legislature and the governor's pen, but it's doubtful it would've happened without Kerttula's visionary leadership. Both of Juneau's Democratic legislators, while not as verbose as Anchorage's leadership, have accomplished much.

I'm particularly impressed with Weyhrauch. He is an admirable successor to Bill Hudson. Weyhrauch is a fiscal moderate, who fought admirably for Alyeska, and university funding. He was also willing to work on some kind of fiscal package. He supported the sales tax, weighing the positives and negatives, and giving his support when an adequate package came together. He has shown, throughout the session, an ability to work with all people, and a vision to look beyond his next election, and toward our future, Alaska's children.

Much of the shenanigans of the session could have been expected. I am, however, disappointed with our Democratic leadership, who must obviously be looking to the next U.S. Senate elections in '04, with the help of Tom Daschle. The philosophy must have been oppose everything, let the Republicans suffer the blame, hold fast until the next elections. The strategy may work, but unfortunately we'd still have a fiscal gap and probably a depleted economy. The Democrats could have seemed more honest in their protection of poor people if they actually offered a fiscal package of their own. After the last elections, no one had any guts to even mention income tax.

Who'd have thought voting, and being an informed citizen was so important? Who's going to be "too busy" on the next election day, or gets all their information from TV commercials, if we're looking for a job, and a good education for our children?

Ishmael Hope


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