Governor Sean Parnell made two controversial appointments recently when he tapped out-of-state residents to the state’s Assessment Review Board and the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation — despite a state law that requires all board and commission members to be Alaska voters.
Legislators and the Governor sparred over the legality of the situation as the governor maintains he has the right to make those appointments as the law likely violates the state’s Constitution, which says members must only be U.S. citizens.
House Speaker Mike Chenault has requested a stand-alone bill to address the appointment to the AGDC, while the candidate for the assessment board withdrew his nomination, effectively resolving the situation.
Chenault said the issue was an “oversight” of the original legislation on establishing AGDC and his bill should provide some clarity to the issue.
These are not minor positions. The Assessment Review Board sets the value of crude-oil pipelines while the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation could play a large role in the state’s LNG project.
While there may be instances when it is appropriate to have non-Alaskans sit on regulatory boards — especially in situations where people who have the expertise to manage the state’s resources live elsewhere — the real issue is that the Governor made those appointments before having the legal authority to do so.
State law should stand on its own merit and if Parnell interpreted the law as a violation of our constitution, he should have taken steps to correct the issue rather than circumventing the legal gray area and stirring up controversy.
It is irresponsible to assume that one’s own interpretation of the law is somehow more valid than the actual letter of that law.
Parnell’s appointments put the cart before the horse and Chenault’s solution closed the barn door after the cart and horse had already escaped.