Two huge issues confronted the state in the last Legislature - subsistence and a state fiscal plan. The Alaska Senate stonewalled both, bringing us no closer to the solutions the public wanted. What did the majority that controlled the senate do instead?
Passed restrictions on a woman's right to choose.
Tried to deprive poor people of their PFDs.
Killed an overdue increase in unemployment benefits.
Scuttled the creation of an Alaska history program in public schools.
Watered down a resolution condemning discrimination and hate crimes.
Made decisions in closed caucus where the public had no voice.
The minimum wage increase passed, but only grudgingly upon reconsideration (it was already certified for the ballot), and after it was voted down once.
If you were female, poor, a minority, a working person of modest means, or couldn't afford $100,000 to hire a lobbyist, you got no sympathy from this body.
During the grim days of this past Legislature, Juneau, thankfully, was represented by a senator who was not afraid to stand up and, politely but firmly, speak in opposition to the arrogant actions of the majority. Day after day, as the majority proposed one awful thing after another, Sen. Kim Elton and a few others displayed courage and integrity, qualities that, unfortunately, were in short supply in the state Senate.
Uncomfortable with his honesty and scared of his intelligence, the majority denied Sen. Elton a seat on the Finance Committee, lest he raise questions about their back room budget deals.
Looking at the actions of Sens. Ward, Donley and Taylor, the last thing this majority deserves is to be rewarded by having its choice for Juneau's Senate seat elected to office. Aspiring to be a part of a majority that exhibited so little respect for the public process is an insult the voters. The price one pays to be a part of such a majority is acquiescence in a lot of bad decisions, and for that the entire state suffers.
With the newly redrawn election districts, we have hope for a more enlightened Senate with John Davies of Fairbanks and Gretchen Guess of Anchorage. Sen. Elton, with his ability and experience, will represent Juneau even more effectively in a Senate that is finally willing to tackle Alaska's biggest problems.
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