The location of the Alaska Legislature’s expected gas pipeline special session should be a no-brainer. Overpriced office space in Anchorage can’t compete with the Capitol building, ongoing renovations or not.
The most recent special session held at the Anchorage legislative information office only confirmed what we’ve believed all along — it’s not cut out for hosting the entire Legislature. That goes double for the support staff — legislative affairs, research and legal — who also had to make the costly trip.
If the special session is called for October, some lawmakers may have to share office space while renovations to their offices wrap up. That’s sure to happen in Anchorage regardless of when the session is called. In Juneau, office renovations are expected to be complete before the end of the anticipated 30-day session (if called for Oct. 1). If the session is called for November, there would be no issue with lawmakers returning to their offices.
As for claims that holding meetings in Alaska’s largest city would promote more civic involvement, that argument was debunked time and again, evidenced by photos posted to social media by Juneau Rep. Sam Kito III, who shared one photo after another of empty meeting rooms.
Juneau’s legislative delegation has assured fellow lawmakers there will be ample space to work and meet. Options include using the Terry Miller building for office space and the current availability of the Senate Chamber and House Finance Committee room for meetings. Centennial Hall and the Juneau Arts and Culture Center also are available if necessary. Those last two options might not even be necessary. Work at the Capitol moves a little closer to completion each day.
Renovations at the Capitol look to be more of an excuse than a legitimate reason to hold a special session outside Juneau. In fact, talks of holding the session in Anchorage feel like just one more example of Capital Creep and nothing more.
— Juneau Empire,