The Alaska State Capitol on Thursday, April 6, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Alaska State Capitol on Thursday, April 6, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Anchorage Republicans seek to move Legislature from Juneau

A pair of Anchorage Republicans have announced their intentions to begin raising money for a 2020 ballot initiative that seeks to move the Alaska Legislature out of Juneau.

A Saturday filing with the Alaska Public Offices Commission names Dave Bronson and Julie Tisdale as the key figures behind “Equal Access Alaska,” a group whose mission is to put a Legislature-move measure on the 2020 general election ballot.

Neither Bronson nor Tisdale responded to emails and calls from the Empire on Monday.

The stated purpose of Equal Access Alaska is “to support efforts to provide more government access to Alaskans.” Bronson told KTVA-TV’s Liz Raines that the group intends to advocate moving legislative sessions out of Juneau.

He did not say whether the Legislature would convene in Anchorage.

Alaskans have been asked to vote on capital-move or Legislature-move proposals 10 times since Alaska became a state.

Alaskans voted in 1974 to move the capital to a new purpose-built city, and in 1976, voters picked Willow as the site of that 100 square-mile capital district.

A 1978 measure required that Alaskans be presented with the total costs of the move, and by 1982, when those costs were assessed at $2.8 billion, voters had soured on the idea.

The 1982 vote failed, and the capital has remained in Juneau since.

The last significant capital-move vote was in 2002, when voters were asked if they wanted to move legislative sessions to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Mark Chryson, who still lives in the Mat-Su, was one of the backers of that proposal. He’s unaffiliated with the new movement, but he still thinks it’s a good idea and may have a better chance than it did 15 years ago.

“For all practical purposes, the capital is already at Anchorage,” Chryson said, referring to the number of state offices that have been transferred out of Juneau since the 2002 vote failed.

The principal argument behind the 2002 ballot measure was that it would save money, and Chryson feels a move would still accomplish that goal.

“We’re going to be saving money up the ying-yang by keeping it out of Juneau,” he said.

The precise nature of the move would likely determine those savings. Previous studies by the Alaska Legislature have found that the cost of flying Legislative staff from Juneau to Anchorage outweighs the savings to be gained by keeping most legislators close to home.

Rep. Chris Birch, R-Anchorage, suggested earlier this year that if lawmakers turned down their per-diem expense payments, they could offset the cost of flying staffers to Anchorage.

That idea was not accepted, and the fourth special session continues in Juneau.

Win Gruening is secretary of the Alaska Committee, which is devoted to promoting Juneau as Alaska’s capital city.

“A legislative move is just a capital move under a different name, and I think most people realize that,” he said by phone. “We’re not going to get better legislators by moving the Legislature.”

Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


More in News

"The Bouyman" participated in the 2021 Fourth of July "Whatever Floats Your Boat" Parade down Pioneer Avenue. (Photo by Sarah Knapp)
July 4 events held around the bay

Weekend in Anchor Point, Homer and Seldovia features parades, games and barbecues

Central Peninsula Hospital is photographed on Oct. 19, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)
College of Health building renovation aims to increase number of grads, address worker shortage

Health care expert says building is one of many steps needed to address shortage

KPBSD Summer Work Program Coordinator Olivia Orth welcomes guests to a program celebration in the Soldotna High School Library on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Summer Work Program students celebrated

The program places current KPBSD students with disabilities in local businesses

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Reef Shark replaced the USCGC Liberty as the cutter for Sector Juneau earlier in June, stationed at Don D. Statter Harbor. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Reef Shark replaces Coast Guard Cutter Liberty in Juneau

The new cutter has big boots to fill, but brings the enthusiasm to do it

Kim Kovol will be the acting commissioner for the new Alaska Department of Family and Community Services which debuts Friday. (Courtesy Photo)
New state department gets new commissioner

Kim Kovol, a longtime social services worker, will head the Department of Family and Community Services

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading "Vot No Con Con," during a Saturday rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Opposition to a constitutional convention, which could alter the Alaska State Constitution to allow for banning abortions was a frequent topic during the protest. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Constitutional convention ballot question in November becomes focus in Alaska’s abortion fight

Abortion rights supporters urge ‘no’ votes on question, while abortion opponents seek changes to constitution

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, arrives to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Aide: Trump dismissed Jan. 6 threats, wanted to join crowd

Cassidy Hutchinson, a little-known former White House aide, described an angry, defiant president that day

Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs Alaska’s fiscal year 2023 operating and capital budgets into law on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office)
Dunleavy signs budget

$3,200 in payments to Alaskans, money for local projects included

Most Read