Amendments continue; state rights nixed by liberal majority



The Alaska House of Representatives heard and rejected dozens of amendments over the past three days, adding some $211,000 for rural emergency response, but rejecting $28 million in cuts that the conservative minority offered.

Amendment 73 went down, like so many offered by conservatives. It related to a well-known public lands access case brought by John Sturgeon against the National Park Service for denying him access to a navigable waterway so he could get to his moose hunting grounds.

[Read: John Sturgeon, hunger, likely heading back to Supreme Court]

Rep. George Rauscher, a member of the conservative minority from District 9, offered an amendment that would have had the State cover up to $500,000 of legal costs for Alaskan John Sturgeon, if he decides to take his case back to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rauscher’s amendment didn’t increase the budget, but would have moved funds from a contingency fund to the Department  of Commerce. As Sturgeon’s legal fees came in, he could apply to the State for reimbursement.

The state has an interest in this case because it affects all Alaskans’ right to access public lands.

Rauscher noted that Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth wrote in her amicus brief filed in this case, “Alaska has a direct and profound interest in maintaining its authority to keep its waterways open as Congress intended … If left uncorrected this decision has broad ramification that extend well beyond its blow to Alaska’s sovereignty.

“It (the Ninth Circuit decision) ignores the needs and realities of rural Alaskans who face unparalleled changes in accessing the transportation thoroughfares they rely upon to provide for their families. Alaska has compelling in interest in preserving its sovereign right to responsibly manage its lands and waters and protecting its citizens ability to use the states’s waterways.

Rep. Paul Seaton, a Homer Republican who joined the liberal majority, rose to argue against it. He said that Rauscher was asking the State to pay private lawyers for something that was a “private benefit” to one Alaskan. Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat, said it was like giving money to one person.

But Reps. Mark Neuman, Tammie Wilson, Dan Saddler and David Eastman said that this is a state sovereignty case.

“The battle is not for him,” said Rep. Wilson. “It’s for all Alaskans.”

A day earlier Seaton had gotten his amendment passed for the same amount, adding $500,000 to a strained state budget to pay for a study of the importance of Vitamin D in the diets of Alaskans.

[Read: House minority challenges paying for Vitamin D study]


In October, Gov. Bill Walker said he would do everything in the state’s power “to protect Alaska State rights.”



  1. I am so glad you tied in Seaton’s ludicroous Vitamin D study pet project. THAT money would benefit one man. We all know we are vitamin D deficient. Such hypocrisy to pay a half million dollars to study the obvious so one man can boast but not pay the attorney fees for one man who took on big brother to protect Alaskans’ access to waterways. Exactly how low is Seaton’s Vitamin D level? The arrogance of this legislature and Walker to refuse to make one single cut but add ridiculous things to the budget like studying the flow of ketchup and paying teachers incentives to do their jobs is stupefying. Walker and his D buddies have driven our beloved state into a ditch. Election day cannot come soon enough.

  2. 500 k to study vitamin D. I guess we could give some to the people that live by the closed trooper posts so they feel better. How can you live in Alaska and not know about the low sunlight in the winter? Just take a multi vitamin. Who gets the money for this study?

  3. In a liberal Utopia states have no rights. All rights belong to a central government which also chooses winners and losers in things like industries and even who gets hired and who is driven to poverty. The fun part, though, is per diem feasting legislators are laying the groundwork for being themselves pushed out of a job. After all, when it’s all centralized command-and-control there’ll be no need for expensive state legislatures, much less costly state elections.

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