Voters OK 90-day limit on sessions

Lawmakers will spend 30 less days in Juneau

Posted: Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Juneau residents and businesses are likely to see less of the state's lawmakers in 2007.

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Ballot Measure 1, which will shave 30 days off the annual legislative session, was on its way to approval in Tuesday's general election with 51.05 percent of the vote.

Absentee ballots were yet to be counted. In such a close race, they could change the outcome.

At Juneau's election headquarters in Centennial Hall, it was tough to find supporters of the measure, which would shorten the lawmaker's scheduled time in the city from 120 days to 90 days.

Juneau resident Harold Jacobs said he voted "no" on the initiative, which he called "ridiculous."

"What's next? Sixty days? And then 30 days?" he asked.

Joseph Keikkala, Sen. Kim Elton's campaign manager, said he also voted "no" on the measure.

"I thought it was a bad idea given the last year's special sessions and how much was incomplete," he said.

He said most people who approved of the idea were probably swayed by the argument that it would cost the public less money.

Resident Joe Gedhof said he worried that a shorter session "starts creating special opportunities for special interests and lobbyists. I think it is better to get the job done and do it right."

Dan Peterson, a former Juneau Assembly member and volunteer member of the Andrea Doll House District 4 campaign, said Juneau residents might have appeared so critical of the measure because "we see the Legislature in action."

He said he opposed the measure on a philosophical level.

"I think it is important to encourage people to make governing their vocation," he said.

The last time the number of days was trimmed was in 1985.

Lawmakers may still call special sessions to address issues not finished or dealt with during regular session.

Proponents of the measure said that shortening the session would enhance the caliber of lawmakers and save money spent on operation and travel expenditures.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at brittany.retherford@juneauempire.com.





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