Senate needs to eat its veggies

Just like a child sitting cross-armed at the dinner table, nose up turned and refusing to eat his broccoli, the Senate has waited until the midnight hour to face the music and the inevitable.

Any parent has seen such behavior. But shame on us grown taxpayers for thinking those lawmakers we sent to Juneau -- specifically the colicky ones in the Senate -- would do the people's business on time.

Instead, we got a lot of kicking, screaming and pouting. Now we're grinning and bearing the news we'll likely be footing the bill for another special session after a time out, nap and snack.

So many issues remain on the table it's hard to keep track of them: both budgets are still in the air, an important in-state gas pipeline bill needs to be addressed and consideration of $8 million for Gov. Sean Parnell's performance scholarship program met the same fate as work on oil taxes -- delayed at the speed of steamed broccoli cooling on a plate.

The Senate ignored Parnell's oil tax plan passed in the House last year in favor of creating its own and promised to hand it off to the House with at least 30 days left in the session. That deadline seems so long ago.

All three bodies -- the House, Senate and the administration -- share some blame, each threatening to hold their breath until they get their way.

The public's business is too important to be left to the last minute. These special sessions the Legislature seems so fond of aren't what we want. When will come the day the Legislature adjourns on time -- with the issues important to Alaskans adequately addressed?

When can we applaud the work the Legislature does and not feel our blood pressure rise when we see the morning's headlines?

Lately we've been accustomed to reading the words "stalled in the Senate." After all, that's where oil tax legislation and a number of other issues have been holed up for the last few months.

Just what's going on with that body? Where is the leadership from its leadership? Surely there must be a good explanation of why all this business is left to the last minute instead of being addressed in an efficient manner.

Look at the House. Leadership there seems to understand the importance of accuracy, diligence and speed. But the Senate seems to be the ones dragging the session out.

And just for what reason? We doubt it's due to a lack of hubris. The Senate says it's being thorough and deliberate -- which we aren't opposed to in most cases -- but it has turned obstinate, it seems.

The Clarion editorial board in this space praised the Legislature at the beginning of the session for looking at oil taxes early. We were hopeful that this session would be different and we'd have a meaningful bill to mull with ample time for consideration.

Silly us. We forgot the Senate would rather have all of us at the table watching while it slowly pushes the broccoli back and forth, clock ticking, ice cream melting.

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Thu, 03/23/2017 - 21:59

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