If you know your history, it’s somewhat ironic. This week, thousands of Alaska Natives will descend on Juneau and force legislators from their homes.
Celebration brings thousands of people to Juneau every other year for a series of spectacular events. This year, it coincides with the unprecedented extension of the Alaska Legislature’s session. Lawmakers have passed 130 days of work in Juneau and are well on their way to 140.
We never expected them to need so much time to address Alaska’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit, and they didn’t expect it, either. They’ve been booking hotel rooms on a day-by-day and week-by-week basis.
Unfortunately for them, Celebration guests booked their Juneau stays months — if not years — ago. Those guests have priority.
Since they’re losing their hotel rooms and rental cars, some lawmakers have proposed pulling up stakes and heading to Anchorage to finish their work.
We believe that work should be finished here, in the capital city.
There are more reasons than our own selfish desire to avoid “capitol creep.” The Anchorage Legislative Information Office has been the subject of extensive lawsuits and backbiting. It seems silly to work in a place that so many Alaskans disapprove of.
It would take days to tear down operations in Juneau and set them up again in Anchorage. We suspect it would take longer to make the move than it would take Celebration guests to leave. By the time the transfer could happen, the scheduling snafu would be over.
We still believe that the end result is more important than how quickly it comes. If lawmakers need to take four or five days off to accommodate Celebration, let them.
It’s still possible that a final end to this interminable Legislative session could come before Celebration begins, but if that doesn’t happen, Alaska’s lawmakers should stay in the capital and finish the work they’ve begun.
— Juneau Empire,
June 5, 2016