Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024 (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, a Nikiski Republican, speaks in favor of overriding a veto of Senate Bill 140 during floor debate of a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature on Monday, March 18, 2024 (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Collegiality matters

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

As I write this update, we are in the final days of the Legislature’s regular session. Because this is the second session of the 33rd Alaska Legislature, the bills that fail to pass the House and Senate by midnight on May 15 will not become law.

End of session results in a flurry of activity to get bills that have the necessary support across the finish line. This rush isn’t due to previous inactivity. House and Senate committees have been diligently reviewing bills and acting on them for the last several months. Immense amounts of time and effort go into even the simplest bills as an initial idea is developed and drafted, public input is taken, impact on stakeholders is considered, and improvements are made. Crafting good legislation takes time, and there just isn’t enough time to do the work on every good idea to get it through the legislative process.

The last week of the two-year Legislature is a masterclass in how to ensure priority issues move through the system in ways you can’t learn from a book. Bills that are similar in subject matter can be combined to help move through the process more efficiently as a single unit rather than separate items. As days extend into the late evening hours, I am looking to improve legislation for the benefit of the Kenai Peninsula and am on guard for threats to our community, economy and way of life.

This is the time of year when the hard work that went into building relationships comes to fruition. For legislators who haven’t done this work, they find it hard to garner support from colleagues in the final hours. While I may disagree with many here in the Legislature on specific issues, I can disagree without being disagreeable. I strive to be respectful of my colleagues when working toward consensus as well as when I must be firm in my no vote. Being able to work collaboratively with my colleagues in the House and Senate is helpful for staying informed, successfully enlisting support at key points, and getting as many of my bills passed as possible. Ultimately, it benefits the people of the Kenai Peninsula as I work in the Legislature to ensure a reliable natural gas supply, education opportunities for all students and improving public safety in these final days of session.

I am honored to be your State Senator and I want to hear from you. You’re welcome to call my office at 907-283-7996 or email me at Sen.Jesse.Bjorkman@akleg.gov. I hope you’ll take the time to share your questions and ideas.

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