With so much at stake, public needs to engage

  • Thursday, January 7, 2016 5:26pm
  • Opinion

Among the remarks from state Sen. Peter Micciche during a Tuesday luncheon, perhaps the most important came during the end of his presentation, when he urged central Kenai Peninsula residents to be engaged with the political process.

Indeed, the Legislature will be handling some big issues during the session that starts Jan. 19 — the Alaska LNG project, a $3.5 billion budget deficit, budget cuts, changes to the permanent fund, a potential income or state sales tax, just to name a few.

Too often, it seems legislators are making decisions in a vacuum, with little input from those affected early in the process. The outcry generally only comes after a decision has already been made.

“If we’re going to make government efficient, but still deliver the services you expect, you have to engage,” Micciche said.

Fortunately in Alaska, engaging public officials is not difficult. For starters, lawmakers are generally accessible. In a small community, we frequently cross paths with elected officials at one function or another.

If none of those options work, you can reach them by phone or email. Here’s contact information for local legislators during the session:

— Sen. Peter Micciche (District O): 1-800-964-5733, Senator.Peter.Micciche@akleg.gov

— Sen. Gary Stevens (District P): 1-800-821-4925, Senator.Gary.Stevens@akleg.gov

— Rep. Mike Chenault, House Speaker (District 29): 1-800-469-3779, Rep.Mike.Chenault@akleg.gov

— Rep. Kurt Olson (District 30): 1-800-463-2693, Rep.Kurt.Olson@akleg.gov

— Rep. Paul Seaton (District 31): 1-800-665-2689, Rep.Paul.Seaton@akleg.gov

Before you call or email, it’s best to make sure you’re familiar with the subject on which you wish to comment. Sen. Micciche suggested tuning in to Gavel Alaska on 360 North to watch legislative hearings — maybe not every hearing, but at least the ones concerning the issues you’re interested in.

One of the best resources is the Legislative Information Office, located at 145 Main Street Loop, No. 217, in Kenai. LIO staff can connect people with information about the Legislature, session schedules, updates on legislation and contact information for lawmakers. The LIO also hosts numerous teleconferences throughout the session, allowing residents to listen and offer comment to legislators in person. To contact the LIO, call 907-283-2030, or email Kenai.LIO@akleg.gov.

More information on legislation can be found on the Legislature’s website, akleg.gov. Online streaming of hearings may be found at alaskalegislature.tv/.

Legislators also need to hear from you. The LIO hosts periodic constituent meetings with area lawmakers, and residents can talk can call or email during the session.

Remember, government of, by and for the people only works if the people are engaged. Stay informed and become a part of the process that will shape our state for years to come.

More in Opinion

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July 2022 rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tshibaka’s insincere defense of democracy

There are a lot of possible explanations why fewer votes were cast last November

Opinion: Humanism and the billionaire class

Compromise is the right thing to do and they should do it.

Opinion: The challenged truths of 3 elected representatives

“Politicians lying is nothing new.”

This photo shows the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The wrong way to define demand

And as glaciers go, the Mendenhall is only a minor attraction.

Zachary Hamilton (Courtesy photo)
Borough mayoral candidate: ‘The best is yet to come’

Zachary Hamilton is running for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor in the special election

Love, INC in Soldotna, Alaska, provides homelessness prevention and housing services to people on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: COVID relief funds help homeless children in Alaska

We need to sustain this kind of investment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska must act now to capitalize on carbon markets

Alaska has vast forests and coastlines that can provide natural carbon management

Opinion: MLK Day clinics offered in the ‘spirit of service and advocacy for equality and social justice’

Attorneys across the state will be spending their holiday as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”

The M/V Tustumena comes into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia in 2010. (Homer News File)
Opinion: New federal funding could aid Alaska Marine Highway System

The evidence is clear that the AMHS is in grave danger of failing and moving into Alaska’s history books

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’ve seen the union difference

As a community we can show solidarity…

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Sullivan’s irrelevance in defense of democracy

Two years ago this week, supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol…

People vote in polling booths at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: What’s on your 2023 schedule so far?

There is a Kenai Peninsula Borough Special Mayoral Election coming up in February