A really bad idea - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

A really bad idea

bronsonformayor

We note with more than a little interest that the Legislature, in its vast wisdom, has decided to bar the news media from the state House and Senate chambers during the upcoming legislative session.

The public, just for good measure, is to be barred, too, under a set of stringent, new anti-COVID-19 rules adopted by the joint House-Senate Legislative Council.

When we first read of it, we thought for certain it was joke. It has been our experience that nothing good – nothing – comes of barring the news media, or the general public for that matter, from public meetings, turning them into playgrounds for really, really bad ideas and no accountability.

Saying such a ban is necessary is indefensible. From where we sit, a few reporters wearing masks and following the same health rules as lawmakers certainly would add little, if any, more COVID risk than a chamber of 20 or 40 yakking legislators and their attendant aides and hangers-on. 

Too often, in our experience, outside influences are used as excuses to shield lawmakers from the prying, pesky eyes of the news media, but a free nation requires a free press. A free press requires, as a minimum, open access to public meetings.

It is understandable, with the issues facing the upcoming Legislature – the budget deficit, the Permanent Fund dividend, taxes – that some lawmakers would be tickled pink if the press took a hike while the political sausage is being made. But pretending it is because of COVID-19 just will not fly.

What they apparently want are the keys to the clown car, with nobody watching.

A very bad idea.

Read more at www.anchoragedailyplanet.com

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Latest comments

  • Well stated.

  • Recall every legislator that agrees with this.
    .
    One thing that 2020 has clearly demonstrated is that our elected representatives are not representing the people any more. Time to evict them.

  • Yep..they have learned well from Anchorages assembly of how to Not be held accountable, and do their acts, that will surely affect us all, from behind closed doors in private.. Time for the people to say “Enough is enough”

  • This was put forth, and voted on, by the 31st legislature Leg Council. FYI, they do not get to decide what happens during the 32 legislature. None of the freshmen elected in November got to vote on this (in fact it was, in large part, incumbent lame duck legislators who voted for all of this.) The Wassilla conservative on the council voted no on all of this crap.

  • It is the public’s right to know what its’ State and Federal legislatures are doing. This has no standing CCP-19 or not.
    How are reporters who are using masks going to affect changes to the State’s function with or without masks? They have a right to be there, the media are the eyes and ears of the public :
    The State of Alaska’s Open Meetings Act (AS 44.62. 310-. 312) requires that all meetings of a public entity’s governing body be open to the public and that the body provide reasonable notice of its meetings. … In essence, the OMA protects the public’s right to know.

    I suggest that if this is the case and is adopted then we need to move the capitol from Juneau now, somewhere else in the state (not Anchorage who has its own oligarchs who ignore the Alaska Open Meetings Act) and let the populous decide the fate of the legislature and its ignorant legislators.
    Fire them all… before they can further bankrupt the state.

  • The only place I know to obtain accurate, comprehensive information as to what the Legislature is doing is right here on MustReadAK. So if the other media are banned from the building or just from the House and Senate floors (unclear about that as news reports differ) it doesn’t really matter to Alaskans. If the session takes place in Juneau, which appears likely today, then the Legislature – no matter how the organizations finally look – is most likely to approve a huge debt proposition, the Governor’s budget (because he forgot to reduce spending, especially when so much is transferred to the supplemental), and quickly go home. They are unlikely to approve a PFD ballot measure, a ballot measure that would require voter approval of an income tax, or a spending cap (even though the currently proposed spending cap would not actually reduce operating spending by future legislatures even if approved by voters). By holding the state bureaucracy harmless the Governor has taken away most or all of his negotiating tools. So far as the PFD amount; since it’s not an election year legislators prefer spending on state government over adding to the PFD. The Governor would have to propose real spending cuts in order to be able to bargain into a $5,000 PFD. Possibly there could be a negotiation that increases the debt amount to $500 million in return for a $5,000 PFD, but that particular bargain would have better chances in an election year legislative session.

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