Gov. Bill Walker is landing in Anchorage this week after a trip to China to peddle Alaska gas. At Commonwealth North on Friday, he and Revenue Commissioner Sheldon Fisher will once again make their case for income taxes on wage-earners.
And in just three weeks those proposed taxes will be heard and legislated on by 60 legislators who will convene in Juneau for an the ninth special session of Walker’s three years in office.
Senate Republicans will also try to convince the Democrats in the House to pass SB 54, a clean-up bill to correct problems with the crime reform package known as SB 91.
All that will happen Oct. 23 against the background of an increasingly discontent Southcentral Alaska voter. At a town hall meeting on Monday in South Anchorage, citizens were livid at the level of crime taking over the community.
After hearing their concerns at the meeting organized by Rep. Charisse Millett, Rep. Chris Birch wrote to Gov. Walker and said that constituents were loud and clear that they want the special session to be held in Anchorage so they can hold lawmakers’ feet to the fire about crime, punishment, and the proposed income tax.
“In addition to their understandable concerns, several expressed a strong desire that the Legislature should conduct its upcoming special session not in Juneau, but in Anchorage, to maximize public engagement in the process, and public access to legislative deliberation on the crime bill and the proposed income tax. The high cost of travel and lodging greatly limit direct in-person participation by most of our constituents in these hearings,” Birch wrote.
This is not about moving the capital, he told Must Read Alaska today. It’s about saving the state money in per diem and travel.
Many lawmakers, including those from rural parts of the state, will already be in Anchorage for the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention.
As of Thursday afternoon, Birch had not heard back from the governor, although he spoke with Walker’s Chief of Staff Scott Kendall.
“There’s a disconnect,” Birch said. “There are a lot of very concerned and even fearful people in Anchorage who want to have a voice in the deliberations revolving around the crime issue and remedies for the problem.”