What others say: Location doesn’t matter when lives are at stake

Some legislators are in Fairbanks. Others are in Anchorage. A handful are in Juneau.

It’s hard to negotiate when no one is in the room.

The first Alaska Legislature knew this. Back in 1959, one of the laws approved in that first state Legislature set the rules for how the Legislature or the governor could call a special session.

No thought was given to location. The assumption was that in order to work well together, lawmakers would be best off in the capital, in Juneau.

That assumption didn’t change for more than 20 years. In 1982, Rep. Terry Martin, a Republican from Anchorage, sponsored House Bill 184, which allowed the Legislature to hold a special session at any place in the state. If the governor called the special session, he (or she) decided its location. If the Legislature called the special session, a poll of both houses would decide its location, but only if lawmakers wanted it outside the capital.

In 1982, the year House Bill 184 passed, capital move furor reached its climax. Voters were asked that fall whether they wanted to spend $2.8 billion to move the capital from Juneau to Willow. The vote failed, with 53 percent of Alaskans against.

Now, it appears that House Bill 184 was a mistake as much as the idea of a capital move was. Instead of focusing on the state’s budget, lawmakers won’t even get in the same room together.

This newspaper has indicated its willingness to compromise. We have long opposed any movement of capitol operations elsewhere, but we won’t complain about legislative special session work in Anchorage, if lawmakers complete their budget work in Juneau first.

Lawmakers can talk dollars and cents all they want, but in Juneau, we think about the people behind those numbers. The budget approved by the Legislature at the end of its regular session calls for the loss of 382 full-time jobs, 50 part-time jobs and 68 temporary jobs across the state. Many of those people live in Juneau.

These are Alaskans whose lives will be irrevocably changed by the Legislature, and their future is in limbo while lawmakers quibble over location.

When the state is facing a multibillion-dollar fiscal gap and the threat of a government shutdown, location doesn’t matter. Get your work done.

— Juneau Empire,

May 15

More in Opinion

This screenshot of an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation map of PFAS sites in Alaska shows that contamination from so-called “forever chemicals” is observable throughout the state. (Screenshot | Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)
Opinion: More action must be taken on PFAS

Toxic forever chemicals present in high concentrations in Nikishka Bay Utility Water Supply

Logo courtesy of League of Women Voters.
League of Women Voters of Alaska: Join us in calling for campaign finance limits

The involvement of money in our elections is a huge barrier for everyday Alaskans who run for public office

Promise garden flowers are assembled for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska, on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Let’s keep momentum in the fight against Alzheimer’s

It’s time to reauthorize these bills to keep up our momentum in the fight to end Alzheimer’s and all other types of Dementia.

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., questions Navy Adm. Lisa Franchetti during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Sept. 14 on Capitol Hill.
Opinion: Music to the ears of America’s adversaries

Russia and China have interest in seeing America’s democracy and standing in the world weakened

Dr. Sarah Spencer. (Photo by Maureen Todd and courtesy of Dr. Sarah Spencer)
Opinion: Alaskans needs better access to addiction treatment. Telehealth can help.

I have witnessed firsthand the struggles patients face in accessing addiction care

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski speaks on a range of subjects during an interview with the Juneau Empire in May 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Need for accounting and legislative oversight of the permanent fund

There is a growing threat to the permanent fund, and it is coming from the trustees themselves

(Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Imagine the cost of health and happiness if set by prescription drug companies

If you didn’t have heartburn before seeing the price, you will soon — and that requires another prescription

Mike Arnold testifies in opposition to the use of calcium chloride by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities on Kenai Peninsula roads during a Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Peninsula Votes: Civic actions that carried weight

Watching an impressive display of testimony, going to an event, or one post, can help so many people learn about something they were not even aware of

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Helicopter fishing a detriment to fish and fishers

Proposal would prohibit helicopter transport for anglers on southern peninsula

The cover of the October 2023 edition of Alaska Economic Trends magazine, a product of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. (Image via department website)
Dunleavy administration’s muzzling of teacher pay report is troubling

Alaska Economic Trends is recognized both in Alaska and nationally as an essential tool for understanding Alaska’s unique economy

Image via weseeyou.community
5 tips for creating a culture of caring in our high schools

Our message: No matter what challenges you’re facing, we see you. We support you. And we’re here for you.

The Alaska State Capitol is photographed in Juneau, Alaska. (Clarise Larson/Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Vance’s bill misguided approach to Middle East crisis

In arguing for her legislation, Vance offers a simplistic, one-dimensional understanding of the conflict