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At session's end, time to play ball

Posted: April 19, 2013 - 2:51pm

How can you measure a session in the Alaska State Legislature?

What measurements can we take to find out whether what was accomplished — or not accomplished — was a success or a failure?

What would our record be if this were, say, a baseball team?

Perhaps that’s all a matter of politics, a measurement in the eye of the voter. But what’s clear now that the dust of the Legislature has settled is this — we are seeing the snow melt and there’s no need for a special session.

That’s a success, right?

Erh, well, let’s put it this way — it feels good to have our lawmakers playing ball by the rules after a few sessions that felt more like an afternoon of backyard tee ball and not a day at Yankee Stadium. We think this session should set the tone: those we elect can and should do their work in 90 days.

To that end, it should be mentioned that this 90-day session included no small amount of big ticket items, including legislation that gives a healthy nudge to an instate gas pipeline and a package of tax cuts meant to spur new oil production and exploration on the North Slope.

Again, it is in the eye of the voter as to whether these items are an indicator of success or failure. However, we would caution those quick to label the work of lawmakers — especially this session — as much of the work done in Juneau won’t lead to moving dirt for some time.

Like a change in the lineup or pitching rotation, it could take some time to see results. It could be years, or even decades, before we’ll have concrete answers as to whether or not what passed works the way we all want.

But for years we’ve sat on the bench and bellyached about feeling like we are losing a game we should be winning. At least now we have made some adjustments and can see how the score responds. At least we have a reason to watch the field. At least now we can start playing some ball.

So perhaps that’s how we can measure this Legislature — not whether we won the pennant, but rather the first crack of the bat on opening day after a long spring training.

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