Governor Sean Parnell signed 11 bills into law Tuesday during a visit to the Kenai Peninsula.
The bills covered a wide range of issues from cattle brand registration and fishery landing taxes to worker’s compensation and medical malpractice issues — each the result of several hours of time and effort and the use of public funding to solve an issue a local legislator felt needed to be addressed.
Typically, those issues are brought to bear by our politicians at the behest of local voters.
After his visit with the community, Parnell stopped by the Clarion to talk about the process and why he tours the state each year to sign bills into law in the communities most affected by their passage.
“We passed, what, 118 bills this session? Most people have no idea what happened. They know the big ones … but beyond that, most people don’t know what has been passed,” he said.
It’s important for the public to see the results of lawmakers’ work and this visit was the culmination of the legislative process that begins with a phone call, an email, a note or a meeting with a local legislator and ends with a visit from the Governor.
We, as voters, need to see the fruit of our toil and, more importantly, our local legislators need to see the number of people who are impacted by what they do in Juneau.
When it comes to state-level legislation, Alaskans tend to focus on the big stuff and leave the little issues to those directly affected by them. The phenomenon is probably a function of human nature, but we’re lucky in this state to have the access that we do to our local legislators.
We should use that access to its fullest extent, both to remind our legislators of who is in charge and to ensure that state-level politics are decided by the voices of a majority of Alaskans.
Alaska is a relatively young state and the populace has a chance to affect tangible change on its future.
It is incumbent upon the populace to speak up on the issues as the political process works best when a diversity of voices weigh-in.