JUNEAU -- An old saying goes something like this, "We hate in otherswhat we hate in ourselves." I don't think I've seen a better example of that than this 28th legislative session.
I flew to Juneau to watch the last days of the session for myself. Home in Anchorage, I spend a remarkable amount of time watching Gavel to Gavel - I even Tivo it. But the cameras don't show what's really going on in the Capitol, restaurants and bars; they don't show the lobbyists following lawmakers into the bathroom or to the smoking porch. (I have to wonder whether the $74,000 upgrade for the smokers' den was more for the lobbyists than Speaker of the House Mike Chenault and Rules Chair Craig Johnson.)
One main theme of this session -- the worst in Alaska's history -- has been the great "rebellion" against the federal government. Legislators are all bent out of shape about "federal overreach" on health care, voting rights, environmental regulations, gun safety, well, you name it.
Rep. Wes Keller has gone so far as to introduce a bill "relating to certain federal statutes, regulations, presidential executive orders and actions, and secretarial orders and actions; relating to the duties of the attorney general . . ." He wants our attorney general to review the hundreds of thousands, or millions, of pages coming out of Washington, D.C. -- becoming, in effect, our watchman on the tower, set to sound alarm at the first sign of the "federal overreach" hordes.
Rep. Charrise Millet never misses a chance to slam the president or the feds. Oh, her lucky constituents. Apparently local education and public safety are non-issues in her district.
I can't decide whether it's more boring or more disheartening to watch these walking bumper stickers in action. Pull the string and any one of them pukes out an anti-fed talking point. The closest they come to an original idea is reading today's ALEC e-mail.
OK, we get it. It's way, way back to the future. How long until there's an actual Confederate flag in front of the Capitol (although a skull and crossbones would be more appropriate)?
This week we found out that Rep. Lynn Gattis took $65,000 from the Mat-Su borough for a road on her property that was never built. She kept the money. You think she's concerned with the boondoggle that is KABATA? Noooo! (I sympathize, it's really hard for a Republican to find government waste, especially when it's in her lap.)
Rep. Bob Lynn thinks if there's a disaster in Anchorage that residents will need an alternative route of town. His solution? A bridge that departs from the most seismically vulnerable part of downtown. Apparently he thinks a catastrophe that destroys Anchorage will leave the bridge and all the connecting roads -- assuming we eventually build some -- untouched. (More waste and fraud, for those looking.)
Logical Conclusion Theater is not real popular with the legislative Lynn-lings.
Sen. Kevin Meyer introduced a bill to cut property taxes for widows and widowers of fallen soldiers. That seems fair enough - but then 12 senators voted to deny the same help to same-sex partners of fallen soldiers. Gay soldiers bleed and die to protect this country just like straight soldiers. Such public bigotry, in this day and age, brings shame on us all.
For all the hatred of the "Beltway Bubble" in Washington, D.C., for 90 days our legislators engage in the exact same behavior.
With a disastrous bill affecting water rights and local sovereignty muddling its way through the gauntlet of policy making, I see supporters like Reps. Mia Costello, Gabrielle LeDoux, Bill Stoltze, Lance Pruitt and Lindsey Holmes stand and vote in favor.
What do they know about Alaskans who depend on salmon that depend on water in streams? What do they care about water rights - except to ensure that corporations are always first in line. Local prerogatives? These legislators are backing a bill so broad a commissioner could practically set off a nuclear bomb on state land without an Alaskan having a way to oppose it. They are exactly like the D.C. yahoos they slam for not "getting Alaska." This session has proved that a majority of our legislators don't get Alaska.
What but some form of Zombie Apocalypse can explain the relentless lurch toward passage of SB21, the bill to give billions in tax revenue to extremely profitable oil companies with absolutely no guarantee of more oil production. For the average Alaskan, it's definitely a horror show.
The governor and lawmakers are proud of demanding results from schools BEFORE they will give them another dollar - but apply the same thinking to the oil industry? No way. How can they be so foolish?
There's more legislative over-reach in a bill to force 40,000 educators from all over Alaska to leave their private insurance and join a massive state-run insurance program. Why? It will cost the state more than $1.5 billion. The idea is supported by folks who hate Obamacare. Again, they become what they hate.
"Washington DC doesn't get Alaska!"
Too many of Alaska's elected leaders don't get Alaska. They are closer to Wall Street and K Street than Farmer's Loop in Fairbanks, Forrest Loop in Nome, or Pioneer Avenue in Homer.
Get ready, neighbors, because you and your community are going to pay the price for it.
Shannyn Moore can be heard weekdays from 6 to 9 p.m. on KOAN 1020 AM and 95.5 FM radio. Her weekly TV show airs at 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays on ABC affiliate KYUR Channel 13.