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Short sessions would take toll on Juneau businesses

Posted: Thursday, July 07, 2005

Thirty fewer days of legislative meetings during a regular session would cut into local business and city sales tax revenue, said Juneau businessmen.

"That's 30 days less of people eating out," said Gilbert Mendoza, assistant manager of Olivia's De Mexico Mexican Restaurant, located on Seward Street among other shops where legislators frequent the most.

On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Loren Leman certified an application for a ballot initiative petition that would establish a statutory 90-day limit on the annual sessions of the Alaska Legislature.

Dave Summers, president of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, said if that becomes the case, businesses downtown and in the Mendenhall Valley will see losses.

"It won't make or break businesses," like the summer months, Summers said. "But it will certainly put a dent in them."

Business comes from the 60 state legislators, their two to three staff members, visiting constituents and lobbyists who roam the halls of the Capitol.

The service sector would particularly be affected and business owners with less revenue would have fewer dollars to spend throughout the city, Summers said.

"One reason that downtown business is vibrant is because the session takes place here," Summers said.

Lance Miller, director of the Juneau Economic Development Center, said that business from the session helps to balance out the part of Juneau's economy that is dependent on summer tourism dollars.

"January, February, March and April are definitely times when Juneau can use additional business," Miller said.

• Andrew Petty can be reached at andrew.petty@juneauepire.com.



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