Initiative would move Legislature to Mat-Su

Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- The chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party and two others plan an initiative campaign to move legislative sessions to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

The group already has the 100 signatures required to apply for the petition, and will file those next week with the state, said sponsor Mark Chryson, chairman of the AIP.

If the state approves the application, the group would have to gather 28,783 signatures to get the question on the state ballot.

Chryson told the Juneau Empire on Wednesday that he's pushing the move because most Alaskans do not have reasonable access to their representatives in the Legislature.

''We don't see the back-room deals (lawmakers) are making with the lobbyists,'' Chryson said. ''The only way were going to control our Legislature is to move it.''

The measure would move all regular and special sessions from Juneau to the Mat-Su Borough.

If suitable facilities are not available there, all sessions would move to Anchorage, but only until the Mat-Su Borough provided facilities.

If approved by voters, it would take effect no later than January 2005.

Chryson said the Mat-Su is a good place for the sessions because it's located between Anchorage and Fairbanks and has room to build a legislative hall. Although Chryson lives in the Mat-Su, he said that's not the reason he's pushing the initiative.

''I would have wanted it here even if I didn't live here, because you can drive to the Mat-Su Borough, Chryson said.

Meanwhile, a Fairbanks Republican is hitting the road this weekend with another measure to move sessions out of Juneau.

Rep. John Coghill scheduled a hearing Saturday in Anchorage on a bill to move the annual sessions there. It's the first time in recent memory such a bill has had a hearing outside the capital city.

But Coghill, R-North Pole, will have plenty of room at the State Affairs Committee's table in Anchorage. Only one other committee member will join him there -- Democrat Harry Crawford of Anchorage. Four others plan to participate by teleconference.

Rep. Joe Hayes declined the trip, calling it an absolute waste of money.

''We are not doing this type of thing for any other bills,'' said Hayes, D-Fairbanks.

Veteran Juneau Rep. Bill Hudson, who has fought similar effort for years, said he thinks the measure is doomed.

''I don't believe the support is there,'' said Hudson, R-Juneau.

Rep. Joe Green, a sponsor of the bill, has pushed to move the Legislature for a decade. He sees the hearing as a chance for Anchorage residents to prove they really want sessions there by showing up at the meeting.

''It says 'Come on out, guys. We're making an effort to see whether you really are interested, or you just want to complain about not having it up here,''' said Green, R-Anchorage.

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