Giessel, Edgmon lock arms to cut future PFDs - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, September 24, 2019
HomePoliticsGiessel, Edgmon lock arms to cut future PFDs

Giessel, Edgmon lock arms to cut future PFDs

EDGMON RESISTS SPECIAL SESSION IN MAT-SU OVER ‘SECURITY’ ISSUES

On day 131 of the 2019 legislative session and special session, a difference of opinion, and the power of the Alaska Governor’s Office have created an unlikely alliance between House Speaker Bryce Edgmon and Senate President Cathy Giessel.

The lifelong Democrat (Edgmon is now a playacting-undeclared) and a lifelong Republican are shocked that the Governor’s Office had the audacity to send text messages to Alaskans, telling them of the opportunity to testify on House Bill 1005. At least that’s how reporter James Brooks tells it for the Anchorage Daily News readership.

In a break with tradition, the House Democrat-led Majority had not posted a call-in number for Alaskans or made any good-faith public notice other than the required 12-hour notice that was available to those who know where to find it.

Such an action to avoid the public is an indication that the Democrat leadership was trying to dodge testimony altogether.

Gov. Michael Dunleavy intended to put the “public” in “public hearing.” Someone had to tell Alaskans about the hearing, because the House Majority had decided not hold a public hearing that didn’t allow the public to participate. Evidently it fell to the governor to explain to Alaskans what was in HB 1005.

 

IT’S THE PHONE TREE THAT BOTHERS THEM?

HB 1005, offered by Rep. Tammie Wilson, co-chair of Finance, would give eligible Alaskans a $3,000 Permanent Fund dividend this year. But in future years, the amount they would get would be cut in half, with the rest going to fund government.

[Read: OMG: Bill would cut future dividends in half]

HB 1005 was introduced last Wednesday, referred to House Finance, and the public hearing on the bill began immediately on Thursday, with only minimal public notice.

Those who did manage to call in and wait 45 minutes to testify were 99 percent opposed to her bill. There’s no indication that Gov. Michael Dunleavy would sign such a piece of legislation, which is counter to everything he ran for office on. Rep.’s Wilson and Edgmon did not discuss HB 1005 with the governor in advance of putting it forward.

But the governor has what is essentially a phone tree for the 21st century — text messages. The House Majority was furious the governor had out-foxed them by immediately contacting supporters of the statutory Permanent Fund dividend, who immediately flooded the lines with opposition to Rep. Wilson’s HB 1005.

Dunleavy’s office didn’t tell people exactly what to say, but just notified them that there was a bill they would likely be opposed to: “ACTION NEEDED: Lawmakers are voting to pay a full PFD this year, but to cut the PFD in half in future years. Immediately call 907-563-9085 to oppose HB 1005.”

At this stage of negotiations between the legislature and the governor, the Senate President and the House Speaker are together on HB 1005, at least for now.  But the governor is decidedly not on board.

In the Anchorage Daily News, Edgmon also expressed concern about the governor sending out text messages at a cost to the state.

Edgmon didn’t remember (and the reporter didn’t ask) about the tens of thousands of dollars that he and the House Majority spent a few weeks ago as they traveled to seven communities to hold public hearings that were designed to provoke testimony against Dunleavy’s proposed budget cuts.

Back in March, Edgmon’s justification for such expenditures was that “Given the historic nature of the decisions before policymakers and the fact that our savings accounts have been spent down, the committee is going above and beyond to listen directly to Alaskans. The hearings are the first of their kind in Alaska’s history.” 

Clearly, the hearings were to gin up opposition to the governor’s budget cuts, which in Edgmon’s world view is an appropriate objective for the use of state funds.

That was then. Here’s Edgmon now:

“Have you ever seen anything like it, Bryce?” asked Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, in a Friday morning meeting.

“No, not anything like this at all,” replied House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham. “(As) somebody who worked in the Capitol throughout the ’90s, and I’ve been a legislator for well over a decade — I’ve never seen an administration employ tactics like this, and especially, apparently using state funding to do it.”

Cultural anthropologists tell us they didn’t text back in the 1990s, but in 2019, it’s more common than phone calls. Even in Dillingham, where Edgmon lives part of the year.

Gov. Bill Walker did it more old-school when he used state funding to send a glossy newspaper insert to Alaskans, telling them of his plans for his gas line project. He used paper and ink to push his message at a critical time in the project’s history.

PFD IS THE ULTIMATE WEDGIE

House Rules Chair Chuck Kopp also used the dispute to solidify opposition in the House Democrat-led Majority to a full Permanent Fund dividend payout: “The messaging has caused the Senate and House to come closer together, and it is driving a wedge between the governor’s office and the Legislature,” he told the ADN.

When it comes to driving a wedge between the Legislature and the Governor’s Office, no one has better chops than Rep. Tammie Wilson, co-chair of House Finance. She told KTOO news two weeks ago that the governor lied about negotiations over the criminal justice reform package.

“All I can do is tell you, in every meeting I had, they were 100 percent on board with what we were doing, and it’s very disappointing that they came out and basically said that did not happen, because it did,” Wilson told KTOO.

Wilson calling the governor a liar may strike the reader odd because during the 30 days when the House could not organize, Wilson told her fellow Republicans that she was joining the Democrat Majority in order to help Dunleavy achieve his agenda. That assertion is looking questionable at this point.

BRYCE EDGMON DOESN’T FEEL SAFE IN MAT-SU

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Speaker Edgmon expressed concern that if the next special session is held in the Mat-Su, there might be a need for greater security. 

According to KTOO, Edgmon said he and other lawmakers are “apprehensive” about their security in the Mat-Su Borough: “I’m concerned about the security aspect, and if the governor does call us up there … I intend to sit down with the Senate president and talk about bringing more security presence for the Legislature, because I think it could be a very volatile environment,” Edgmon told reporters.

It may be the first time in history that a member of the Legislature has said that he doesn’t feel safe in another member’s district.

Meanwhile, Tuesday will be Day 13 of the first special session and so far, since the Legislature first met on Jan. 15, there is no crime reform bill, no operating budget, no capital budget, no Permanent Fund dividend, no education funding and no supplemental budget for the current waning fiscal year.

In other words, the Legislature has been in session 131 days and has not yet done its most basic work. The Senate has not even voted to pass the simple concurrence on HB 49, the legislation that unwinds the weak-on-crime package of SB 91.

The list of passed legislation that has not yet been transmitted to the governor is here.

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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

  • I did not receive that text. How does one get on the list?

  • How does one get on the list to receive the text?

  • These are children. They get away with this behavior in backwater Juneau because the whole capital is Romper Room.

    Imagine what elected officials in the Alaska Legislature would have to do if they faced the majority of adult voters on the road system.

    Drag it out, kids, then picker up…

  • Edgemon is stealing from the people. Hard to figure why he would feel safe, even in his own district where lots of his villages live on the edge of destitution.

    He’ll be like Lyman Hoffman and actually live in Anchorage, fly home for his”subsistence fishing”, then right back to the fancy office and high life in Anchorage.

    No rural legislator should have a state paid for office in Anchorage.

  • The legislature’s actions reveal who they really are. As a whole, the are clearly not interested in public input. And beyond disinterest, they are actively subverting it. Any protestations against a text message sent to encourage public participation in a process in which public participation was clearly unwanted make the protestors look like cockroaches scurrying when the light is shined on them.

    I would encourage Edgmon and Giessel to take responsibility in their respective leadership positions, and force their houses to get their work done.

    As for Edgmon’s “security concerns” at the possibility of having a special session in the MatSu, I would encourage two things:

    1. Maybe take a little time to reflect on your actions and honestly assess if you have conducted yourself in a honorable way. If you have, then you shouldn’t really have anything to worry about.

    2. If you (and everybody else in the legislature) are too afraid to conduct the people’s business in full view of and within driving distance of the majority of the people who will be affected by decisions you make, then you should resign. Immediately. If the insulated cocoon of Juneau is the only place you feel comfortable conducting yourself the way you do, then you are a self-serving coward, and you should quit.

    My thoughts – all special sessions should be held outside of Juneau. The legislature wastes time and money every session acting like children and failing to get their basic work done. If they can’t get their shit together in 121 day, then overtime should happen on the road system.

    • Ethan, well said! I’m already planning to be at the session in the MatSu. I doubt that the agenda will be completed in this special session. That is unless some legislators are worried about security! Hmm.

  • If they don’t feel safe they should hold session on Third Ave, Beans could give them lunch.

  • Astounding, but not surprising. Edgmon’s jejune, inane complaints about Governor Dunleavy informing the constituents of all “legislators” involved, of their plans to hold a “public meeting”, when and where the constituents would have little or no chance of commenting at the “meeting”, are ridiculous. The only opportunity for any comment in person was by liberals in Juneau. By not announcing the phone number to contact the “meeting” for comment, they appear to be deliberately disenfranchising their own constituents. If complaints are valid about Governor Dunleavy using public funds to text citizens and provide that “forgotten” number, what about public funds used to pay these same “legislators”, along with exorbitant per-diem, when they refuse to do the job they were elected to do? Same for their “expenses” to travel around the State drumming up liberal support for their “non-agenda”. All further public hearings and legislative shenanigans should be held in Mat-Su or Anchorage, where Alaskans can afford (on their own dime) to be present and face the “legislators” that are trying to steal from, and betray, those very same citizens. As for the rino, Giessel, the polls are the place to take care of that. Remember, Alaskans, remember. The only “security” presenting an issue, is the security of Alaska and Alaskans. True colors are flying. Remember, Alaskans, at the polls.

  • The little Sons of Bureaucrats are scared of us little people in the Valley. Poor lil old politicians! Who will hear there pleas of civility in the rough and tumble Matsu Borough?

  • This really is the best reason for getting rid of politicians like Giessel and Edgmon. It is clear that they will use every dirty political trick out there to advance their big government agenda. For Edgmon to say he needs a “safe place” if there is a special session in the MatSu is so pretentious. He was in the MatSu just a short time ago with no incidents outside of many citizens making it clear that the PFD is not the Legislature’s to spend. Again, Alaska, it is time to get rid of these wingnuts and replace them with legislators who will obey the peoples’ will.

  • He was there but he was uncomfortable. The speaker stayed for the required time then headed out like a scalded dog. After Thursday’s testimony on HB 1005 he knows there will be more that 50 or 60 folks there. Cockroaches don’t like the light.

  • I had consistently voted for Tammie but as the Raven said, Nevermore, nevermore!

  • When government starts handing out money to people that simply sign up to receive it, it is very difficult to stop that practice.

  • That was the design! We blew through $900,000,000 from the first lease sale like government could be boundless. By providing dividends to residents Alaskans could invest or spend their own shares on something other than union workers.

    Majority Legislators obviously care more about union interests than they do the voters.

  • Bryce Edgmon, Cathy Giessel, and Tammie Wilson – Whom did they sell their fealty to?

  • I wrote the following to Bryce. Call, write and let him know we will be civil, be lawful and be considerate and to be firm, tell the truth, we will call him and his fellow Democrat-Socialists out in his lies and action. That we are look forward to meeting him in Wasilla!

    The following is so laughable, yet predictable! From Must Read Alaska

    “According to KTOO, Edgmon said he and other lawmakers are “apprehensive” about their security in the Mat-Su Borough: “I’m concerned about the security aspect, and if the governor does call us up there … I intend to sit down with the Senate president and talk about bringing more security presence for the Legislature, because I think it could be a very volatile environment,” Edgmon told reporters.”

    So Bryce, will you deny us unwashed “valley trash” from coming to the legislature and to voice our support for the Governor, for the PFD, for a 1.6 Billion dollar cut budget, as well as proper funding of education?

    You know that We the People will let our views be known and will do so that the media will be hard pressed to not report it. I’m sure your hope is that you and Cathy own the media enough, like your other friends in D.C. do. Well, might, but then again might not, since our state-wide media isn’t the Communist News Network or the Thrill up and down the leg MSNBC. Oh, I’ve little trust with Channel 2 but Channel 11 has been showing better, more balanced reporting and I’m sure you do not want that!

    I have checked with Wasilla PD as to what I will need to do as to organizing protests. Really simple and easily done. I am sure that the members of the Greater Alaska Chapter of AMAC Action will be filing into the many offices, both the Republican Minority and your Democrat-Socialist/RINO Majority members. We are the ultimate “lobbyists” since we are the voters.

    Lastly Bryce, be concerned, very concerned about denying our access, because even Channel 2 will have a limit as to watching you violate fellow Alaskans civil liberties!

    Mike Coons
    President, Greater Alaska Chapter, AMAC Action

    P.S. I have told and will continue to tell all to show up, be civil, be lawful and be considerate and to be firm, tell the truth, call you and your fellow Democrat-Socialist out in your lies and action. We are looking forward to meeting you in Wasilla!

  • Tammie Wilson couldn’t get elected to anything outside of her House district in North Pole, AK. And now, a re-election bid looks to be in doubt.

  • Thank you Suzanne for your continuing documentation of the Insanity we call our State government. They really should take a look at Oregon where they rightly deceided the real issue is the mess the public service unions got the State into with entitlement expenditures for retired state workers. They’re looking to cut those ongoing expensives. The public service unions bankroll the elections of folks who then work to insure expenditures that support the unions issues. How can you break this unholy alliance that crosses all party lines before the system is cannialbized completely.

  • There’s your sign: “Giessel’s Gotta Go!”

  • This has been the sickest legislative session in memory. Do these House and Senate members really think that the general public gives a rat’s a$$ about what they do or say? The majority of voters stand with Dunleavy. Drain the swamp, Governor.

  • They want to cut the pfd because they don’t need it they have plenty of money but I guarantee that if the needed that pfd they would not want it cut

  • I was on that phone line waiting for 25 minutes to have my say. All the people I heard opposed HB1005, except one person. Maybe there is fear of coming to our beautiful Mat-Su Valley because all the call-in’s came from folks that can get here easier than they can get to Juneau! There will be a turn out of the people. That’s for sure!

  • Bryce Edgemon runs the house just like a corrupt Village Council controls the city and tribal councils. All Bryce is missing is a Tribal court to bannish uppity Representatives that want to fix a problem by amendment.

    Give Bryce tribal courts and Anchorage better make room at Beans Cafe for the house minority.

  • One of the brightest young Alaskan’s that I ever had the pleasure of meeting was a man named David Giessel. An Anchorage engineer, I believe, with a logical and methodical thought process. I met him at a book club where he articulately spoke about the perils of a big, runaway government. He would be a great addition to the Dunleavy Team, although, his mother would probably disagree.

  • Marla, a mother would be proud to have this David as a son. Rather than work for the Governor, I think a better fit would be for him to become policy advisor to the state Senate.

    • His name is David Giessel, and he is the Senate president’s son. A highly intelligent young man. He moved to Canada, where he has taken up residency. OUCH!

  • Would it be rude to insist Peoples Imperial State Senator Giessel must get the (expl del) out
    .
    Hard to imagine who elected, accidentally or otherwise, this person to do what it’s doing now.
    .
    Easier to imagine who might replace it…

    • Former state Senate President Pete Kelly may be wondering the same thing, Morrigan.

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