Anchorage Assembly members who came out on the short end of a vote on continuing the city's vehicle emission testing system are urging the mayor to veto the measure approved by their colleagues.
Assemblymen Bill Starr and Chris Birch, whose opposition to reinstating the program was on the losing side of a 6-4 vote Tuesday night, said they have asked Mayor Mark Begich to dump the ordinance approved by the majority.
"Your access to unbiased resources and factual data regarding our air quality surpasses the Assembly and provides you a clearer picture of the current and improving status of our City's air quality," Starr wrote in a letter Wednesday to Begich. "Our legislative action does not serve the public's best interest with an effective solution to the air quality issues that face our community."
Birch said he made his request to the mayor verbally.
Begich, who has been cool to the program in the past, in a statement released Wednesday afternoon said he was still getting advice and recommendations from city officials and experts on the Assembly action. But, he said, "At this point, I am not inclined to overturn through a veto this new IM ordinance."
Begich said the Assembly's approval of an amendment that dropped a provision "giving the federal government the ability to hold Anchorage hostage when it comes to whether or not we operate an emissions inspection program" made him more comfortable with the new law.
In approving the ordinance, the Assembly reversed a vote in November by an Assembly of a different political makeup that would have killed the inspections at the end of next year. The municipal election in April put a group of members sympathetic to the program in control of the panel, and the latest measure grew out of that majority.
Most Assembly members backing the program cite the health benefits of clean city air. But foes contend Anchorage has not violated federal carbon monoxide standards for years and the program is no longer needed.
A public hearing on the same night the ordinance passed saw opinion split about down the middle between those who spoke in favor of the program and those who opposed it.
Begich has issued only one veto in his tenure as mayor.
In February, he rejected a measure letting a non-alcohol strip club that catered to an under-21 crowd turn itself into an adult club serving liquor. The mayor argued that the Assembly should have heard from police before cutting off debate. That veto was overridden in an 8-3 vote.
Eight is the number of Assembly votes needed to override a mayoral veto, according to the municipal charter. The Assembly has 21 days to act on an override question.