Sessions becoming time well wasted

Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2006

During the past two years, there has been some public discussion about shortening the Alaska legislative sessions from 120 days to 90 days. It would seem this suggestion would be based on the Legislature, in past years, being able to complete its business in less than the 120 day regular session.

This assumption, however, would not be correct.

In the last 12 years, there have been 15 costly special legislative sessions, including the one which began July 12. From these facts, one might conclude that regular legislative sessions should be extended, not shortened?

There is also another aspect, which should be considered before shortening these sessions. Unless our legislators vote themselves a cut in pay, shortening regular legislative sessions from 120 days to 90 days would have the effect of giving all legislators an automatic 25 percent increase in pay (30 days is 25 percent of 120 days)

I do not recall any legislator mentioning this “perk.”

There is an old adage, which applies to this subject: “Why is it there is never enough time to do the job right the first time, but there is always plenty of time to do it over and over again?”

This adage might also be applied to the current legislative debate on oil taxes and the natural gas pipeline contract, which began (again) on July 12 in Juneau.

Richard Hahn


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