In support of a 90-day legislative limit to speed up the process

Alaska editorial

Posted: Thursday, September 14, 2006

This editorial appeared in The Voice of the Times:

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On election day in November, you will have an opportunity to help enact a law. By voting "Yes" on Ballot Measure 1, you and other like-minded Alaskans will be able to impose a 90-day limit on the length of the state's regular legislative sessions. Three months, in other words, to attend to the state's lawmaking needs.

That's briefer than the 121-day limit now in place. A month shorter. And what would be the change?

Not much, except there would be an added impetus for legislators to get to work at a more rapid pace upon their arrival in Juneau. Privately, most who have been a part of the process admit that a lot of time is wasted early on - and that shortening the time devoted to the work would be more positive than negative.

But what if more time is needed? Well, as has been made plain this year, special sessions can be convened with ease to deal with major matters still pending. This year, legislators essentially were in session for six months.

That's a long time to ask people to spend in Juneau, far from their homes. So, too, is four months as a regular routine.

The legislators themselves, obviously, could have enacted a shorter-session law. But they haven't and probably won't.

So it's up to the voters. It's up to you.

Failing this, there would be another option. And that would be for legislative sessions that last all year long. And for making legislative service a full-time job, at a full-time rate of pay.

Some argue that would attract candidates of higher caliber, willing to make Juneau politics a full career. Others say the same legislators simply would grab the full-time jobs and perform just as they are now.

The choice, as they say in political campaigns, is yours to make.

We recommend a "Yes" vote on a 90-day session, in hopes that the prospect of a shorter stay in Juneau actually would make for better legislation.

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