What others say: Legislature should stay in Juneau

  • Tuesday, January 13, 2015 4:35pm
  • Opinion

Here we go again with the latest installment of Capitol Creep.

Sen.-elect. Bill Stoltze, who represented Chugiak for many years in the state House, has proposed moving the annual session of the Alaska Legislature to Anchorage.

When will this nonsense end?

Gov. Bill Walker has tried to end it quickly by taking the smart step of sending word, not long after Mr. Stoltze said this week he intends to introduce a bill to move the Legislature, that he supports keeping things as they are — in Juneau.

“While I typically do not commit on how I would deal with any particular legislation before it is on my desk, I do not favor moving the capital from Juneau,” the governor said in an email to the Juneau Empire.

Discussion about moving the capital — the only state capital accessible solely by air or ferry — has pockmarked Alaska’s history. Numerous proposals have been put forward. Of those that have been put to a public vote, all have failed. The most recent effort came in 2002 and failed by a 2-to-1 ratio statewide, with Juneau spending more than $2 million to defeat the measure.

One of the arguments put forward by proponents of moving the entire capital or even just the Legislature is doing so would increase access for Alaskans. If this is such a concern, however, why have lawmakers been so content with the shorter, 90-day legislative session rather than the 120-day session allowed by the Constitution and which was the norm before passage of a voter initiative in 2006?

So much for wanting more access for The People.

Today’s technology does provide for citizen access to our distant Legislature, even though the number of days they work is fewer. And the state’s system of Legislative Information Offices helps connect Alaskans with their lawmakers.

Proponents of moving the Legislature probably will argue they have no larger goal of moving the capital. Perhaps that is so.

But what about those who will come to power after them? Once this first step of Capital Creep is taken, others will someday push anew for that next step — moving the entire capital to Southcentral, where much of the state’s power already resides.

Moving the capital would ravage the economy of Juneau, where state government is the largest employer.

When will the covetous leaders from Southcentral Alaska cease this effort? Probably never.

Alaska has larger issues to concern itself with now than this.

Discussion about moving the Legislature or the capital might not seem to be something of concern to residents of Interior Alaska, but Fairbanks can ill afford a further consolidation of state power in Anchorage. Juneau always will need all the friends it can get on this issue, and it should be able to count on Fairbanks for support.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

Jan. 10

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