'And another thing ... '

Posted: Monday, June 11, 2007

A couple more points need to be made about the idea of holding a special session in Anchorage rather than in Juneau, where it should be held.

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First, those who want to hold the session in Anchorage have said that the city's central location would allow more Alaskans to participate in or monitor the process as legislators decide what to do about the SeniorCare program, which legislators declined to renew by the end of their annual session last month.

It may be true that having the session in Anchorage, which is road accessible to many communities, will allow more people to physically attend.

But that attendance could come at a price. It will likely be that fewer people overall will be involved since Gavel to Gavel television coverage will not be provided. Gavel to Gavel, which emanates from public television station KTOO and is funded by the city and borough of Juneau and through corporate and private underwriting, year after year provides Alaskans across the state with daily cable television coverage of the Legislature from the Capitol.

Second, Alaskans should be wary of a curious comment made Monday by House Speaker John Harris, who told a Daily News-Miner reporter that the special session should be held in Anchorage because the agenda is a light one. SeniorCare is the only issue, which, according to Speaker Harris, means the session is a "one-day deal."

Now, a legislative gathering that is being called to resolve a contentious issue such as senior assistance in one day should make Alaskans wonder whether an agreement has already been reached among legislative leaders. And if that's the case, then why all the high talk, from Gov. Sarah Palin and others, about getting more people involved by having the session in Anchorage?

If legislative leaders want more people involved, then they shouldn't be touting the special session a "one-day deal." They should take the time to have a thorough debate, and taking the time means doing it in Juneau to keep the cost down.

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