Last week, Sen.-elect Bill Stoltze, a Republican from Chugiak, went public with his plans to file legislation that would move the Alaska Legislature from Anchorage to Juneau. The capital would still be in Juneau, but the capitol would depart.
We have nothing against Sen. Stoltze; he’s no doubt a smart man. Unfortunately for him, he’s bringing forward a dumb idea. As the state stares at a multibillion-dollar fiscal gap and cancels projects to make ends meet, the last thing the state needs is to spend time and money examining a capitol move — let alone the cost of the move itself.
Should the Legislature decide it has ample time to discuss a move of the capitol, there are other pressing items it should probably take up:
— Moving Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to Southeast Alaska;
— Naming an official state color;
— Another joint resolution asking for Mount McKinley to be officially renamed Denali;
— and proclaiming an official state chewing gum.
Stoltze’s bill will go nowhere — Gov. Bill Walker has said he does not favor moving the capitol, and Stoltze’s proposal will be opposed from every Juneau legislator and (we suspect) many others tired of Anchorage being the tail that wags Alaska’s dog.
Bills like Stoltze’s have come and gone with past legislatures. In January 1999, Rep. Vic Kohring of Wasilla prefiled a bill similar to Stoltze’s plan. “I just thought I’d file the bill and see if we can get some dialogue going,” he said at the time. “Whether we get it through is, like in the past, somewhat questionable.”
Kim Elton, who would become a senator from Juneau at the start of that Legislative session, said bills like Kohring’s take so much effort to fight that they divert attention from worthy efforts. “The frustrating thing about these is you spend an awful lot of time and energy on something like this,” Elton said at the time.
What was true then is still true.
Capital, and capitol, move bills are wasteful. They divert attention from worthy legislation and gum up the Legislature’s workings simply so Anchorage-area legislators like Stoltze can preen before their constituents.
There is too much to be done this session. The Legislature must examine marijuana regulations. It must examine schools and public safety. It must manage the state budget.
Starting on the third Tuesday of the month, it will have 90 days to do all of this. It has no time to waste.
— Juneau Empire,