Capital creep: Official hearings now held outside of Juneau - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, October 22, 2021
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Capital creep: Official hearings now held outside of Juneau

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The House Majority, led by Democrats and eight moderate Republicans, has done something no legislator from Wasilla has ever been able to do: Move the actual legislative sessions outside of Juneau during regular session.

Former Eagle River  Sen. Randy Phillips, who fought for a decade to move the capital out of Juneau, would be proud.

What’s more, the House Majority has been able to move these precedent-setting sessions without a peep from the usually very strident capital defenders in Juneau — not a word of objection has come from city leaders, and not from the three legislators who represent Juneau.

Is this development a sign of things to come for Juneau?

The co-chairs of House Finance have scheduled and will sponsor the following official hearings on the Permanent Fund dividend and the state budget:

Friday, March 22, 5-8 pm

Saturday, March 23, noon-3 PM

Saturday, March 23, 2-5 PM

Saturday, March 23, 2-5 PM

Saturday, March 23, 2-5 PM

Sunday, March 24, 2-5 PM

Sunday, March 24, 2-5 PM

Sunday, March 24, 2-5 PM

Legislative special sessions and hearings outside of the normal 90-120 days have been held in Anchorage in the past, over the strong objection of Juneau. And Juneau has fought hard for decades to keep the regular session in the capital city, arguing that it was more cost efficient than moving hearings around the state.

As they do every year, legislators have held town hall meetings in their local communities, which were widely reported in the press. Now, they are spending tens of thousands of dollars to hold actual official hearings in these same communities, poking the camel’s nose a few more inches under the tent.

No objection has been raised by Juneau’s three representatives, Sen. Jesse Kiehl, Rep. Sara Hannon, and Rep. Andi Story. All are Democrats. Apparently, a road show designed to whip up public support for higher budgets is more important to the Juneau delegation than defending their capital from creeping incrementalism.

How these official hearings will be staffed and documented is still unknown. will not be able to livestream them for the rest of Alaska. The local media in the various communities will likely be the only source of information for the official proceedings of the House of Representatives.

If they can do it this year, then they can do it every year. Juneau has a lot to think about as the hearings take place elsewhere, starting Saturday.  A voter initiative is now being considered to move the legislative sessions, and these hearings could put wind in the sails of the capital move advocates.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • It’s about time the politicians made themselves available to their constituents. Even so, I will need to drive about 200 miles (round trip) to take part in a discussion that I would probably be ostracized from because I’m not a local to any of these meetings. Move the damn capitol to Wasilla/Anchorage so the people have access. The only time the dims hold “out of Juneau” meetings is when it can only be to their advantage. They ignore everyone else. Constituents?? What is a “constituent”? I think that’s their main argument.

  • Actually, Capitol Creep is a term most non-Juneau residents use to define a legislator, staffer, or state worker who lives in Juneau.

  • I’ve heard rumblings that the Governor will place the special session in the valley. Any comment from Vern Halter?

  • Why do government business in such an expensive and low access part of the State? It’s not cost effective and there have already been several voter initiatives. Time to move it to Willow and start saving the State some rent money.

    Or we could wait until the ferries go belly up when it gets really expensive.

  • State Government slowly creeping away from Juneau and North Lynn Canal – the birthplace of Alaska Statehood … is this tolerable? … – Jimmys Journal

    P.S. I remember the year (1967) when 4 boys from Haines took 4 out of the 8 top elected spots in Alaska’s First Annual Boys State sponsored by the American Legion … Yup, we had met with Ernest Gruening and Mike Gravel. Carl Smith of Haines went to Boys Nation. Now you suggest you are going to slowly throw the baby out with the bathwater? Isn’t this kinda like an abortion? I thought that Alaska was done with that? There have been so many new people that have come to the State in recent times that the electorate doesn’t understand anymore the pride we have in our history and in the early formation of Statehood instilled even in the children … – Jimmys Journal

  • If Paul Revere were to ride today and in Alaska, he would go around warning everyone: “The Pinko Commies are Coming, The Pinko Commies are Coming!”

  • This paragraph near the bottom of your article likely sums up the scenario.

    “No objection has been raised by Juneau’s three representatives, Sen. Jesse Kiehl, Rep. Sara Hannon, and Rep. Andi Story. All are Democrats. Apparently, a road show designed to whip up public support for higher budgets is more important to the Juneau delegation than defending their capital from creeping incrementalism.”

    Exactly. They are so desperate to keep big government as big as possible that ‘allowance’ is being made to do what should be done every year for all important issues. Hopefully it will set precedent strong enough to give some traction to moving the leggeslative session in the future.

  • The prison in Sutton is empty, paid for and still heated. Move it there.

  • Suzanne, last I heard Rep Johnston is the only one coming to the Matsu. I know Coleen Sullivan-Leonard will not attend and maybe the same for Rep Tilton in opposition to the cost and political stunt the Dems are pulling.

    BTW, I have sent out to all my members of the Greater Alaska Chapter of AMAC and AMAC HQ will be sending out to the 4,500 plus AMAC membes throughout Alaska. Geared to getting as many conservatives to the meetings as possible since this is designed to get Dem-Socialists out to oppose the Governors budget.

    • We socialists love Gov. Dunleavy’s plan for the full PFD and back pay. We have 8 kids as do our in-laws and the lack of income is really hurting or families. Go Mike!!!

      • My dog is a socialist too and he needs my PFD for more dog food. He’s a Democrat and he votes.

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