Getting off on the right foot

  • Thursday, October 22, 2015 5:07pm
  • Opinion

One more, with feeling.

The Alaska Legislature is set to convene its third special session of the year, this time to take up Alaska LNG Project issues. Gov. Bill Walker has proposed that the state buy out TransCanada’s stake in the project, and pitched a gas reserves tax measure for lawmakers to consider.

Unfortunately, lawmakers aren’t yet sure what they will be considering as the administration had not yet released any bills on either subject. And on Wednesday, legislative leaders announced the session would start with committee hearings at the Capitol, rather than the hours-long briefing planned by the administration.

And here we go again.

The governor and the Legislature, it seems, are just not capable of starting anything off on the right foot. You certainly can’t blame legislators from wanting to see bills ahead of the session. Legislative leaders already feel as though they’ve been blind-sided by the reserves tax measure; what other surprises will be waiting for them in Juneau?

Likewise, this is not the first time the governor has made something a legislative priority — but failed to provide the legislation for it. Remember Medicaid expansion? It was a central part of Gov. Walker’s campaign, yet when the Legislature convened in January, he apparently just assumed lawmakers would work out the details. A Medicaid expansion bill wasn’t introduced until March 17 — with about a month left in a regular session that also included marijuana legalization and a budget crisis. When lawmakers didn’t jump on Medicaid expansion, Gov. Walker opted to go it alone, leading to a lawsuit asserting that the governor had overstepped his authority.

Alaska LNG is too big a project — and too crucial to Alaska’s future — to go down the same path.

For his part, Gov. Walker at a Wednesday press conference told reporters that he is “optimistic that once we actually sit down at same table and start having discussions, it will be a productive process.”

We hope that’s the case.

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