Our View: Leave House Bill 77 in its grave

No 77, thanks

Land swap bid raises red flag

There's talk in Juneau about a draft bill floated by Rep. Cathy Munoz that would resurrect parts of House Bill 77, which would have slashed Alaskans' water rights, expanded the scope of development permits and sharply curtailed public notice and participation.

The draft's immediate purpose is to help a Bible camp near Juneau work out a land deal with the state. Pieces of HB 77 would be attached to an already-passed Senate bill. That Senate bill makes it easier for businesses to purchase state land that they are leasing.

Strong and widespread public resistance killed HB 77. Lawmakers shouldn't dig it up, especially when doing so triggers confusion and doubt about what adding parts of it to another bill will mean for both public notice and the terms of trade or purchase of public lands.

It's late in the session with little time for honest vetting but enough time for sleight of hand -- or maybe just unintended consequences.

If lawmakers want to help a Bible camp with a property problem or smooth boundary adjustments between public and private landowners, address those with separate and specific bills that create no confusion and maintain public participation. Otherwise wait until next session.

As for HB 77, it was bad legislation that most Alaskans didn't want. Leave it for dead.

BOTTOM LINE: This is no time to resurrect even parts of HB 77.