Let's keep our eyes on Juneau

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010

The second session of the 26th Alaska State Legislature begins Tuesday.

Some lawmakers and their staff members have already been in the state capital for days now, preparing for the work ahead. More than 50 bills and resolutions have been pre- filed in both the House and Senate so far, covering issues ranging from fisheries to whether or not you can drive and talk on your cell phone at the same time.

Debate will continue over the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act of the Palin administration. Gov. Sean Parnell says he's still supporting that plan, which backs an effort by TransCanada Corp. and ExxonMobil Corp. to team up on building the line. Others in the legislature remain unconvinced that AGIA will work and believe tax deals and subsidies with oil producers who own the natural gas is a better idea.

The governor also wants to kick off his long-range campaign to combat domestic violence and sexual assault with a multi-million dollar package to add more state troopers and prosecutors to the fight. Lawmakers will have to decide whether to pass it and how to pay for that.

And on top of all that, keep in mind this is an election year, with the governor's job on the ballot.

In short, there'll be plenty of politics to be aware of this year.

As we've said here before, we expect the Legislature to get its work done in the recently adopted 90-day session, despite some continual grumbling from some lawmakers who still want the old 120-day session.

But if we can ask our elected officials to put in 90 hard work days, the least we could do is keep an eye on them and encourage them on. And it's easy to do.

The Legislature's Web site, http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/, contains a plethora of information. You can track progress of bills, gat background on lawmakers, conduct archival research, see daily committee schedules and more.

Legislative Information Offices are great resources for information and staff is knowledgeable and always helpful. In the central peninsula area the office is at http://w3.legis.state.ak.us/laa/lio/kenai/kenai.php, or 907-283-2030.

You can listen to legislative action on the Web site of the KTOO public broadcast station in Juneau. Gavel to Gavel begins its 16th year of live legislative coverage at http://ktoo.org/gavel/.

Use some of these resources in addition to news we'll be giving you over the next three months. Keeping abreast of legislative business may not be the average person's idea of fun. But with so much of it available and so easy to get to, is there any good excuse not to?

It's our government, folks.

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