By REP. BEN CARPENTER
Danger — without action on our part, following the law in Alaska is about to become optional.
Meeting in Wasilla for the second special session of the Legislature isn’t debatable; it’s the law. AS 24.05.100(b) is very clear:
(b) A special session may be held at any location in the state. If a special session called under (a)(1) of this section is to be convened at a location other than at the capital, the governor shall designate the location in the proclamation. If a special session called under (a)(2) of this section is to be convened at a location other than at the capital, the presiding officers shall agree to and designate the location in the poll conducted of the members of both houses.
And yet individuals in our Legislature would have you believe the law isn’t clear.
This is a critical moment in state history and there is more at stake than where the next special session will meet.
Our legislative institution is heavily dependent on precedent. It is a big deal for two legislators to arbitrarily decide that they have the right to ignore a law and with their decision, obligate the remaining legislators to follow their lead. It is precedent setting behavior and it is not an isolated event.
These legislators are required to have 40 members in agreement to meet somewhere other than Wasilla. They are shy one vote. The legislature is now several years into a habit of not complying with the 90 day session statute and the 120 day Constitutional requirement for completing legislative work. That a second special session is even required to address the failure to pay a statutory PFD is a new precedent and a new level of absurdity. If one law can be ignored, any law can be ignored. This should concern everyone.
Following social media and news reports, it is clear that some law abiding citizens of this great State may condone this behavior by their representatives because it meets their political agenda. All citizens must realize that one day, the political winds will shift and the next leader will have precedent on their side when they decide to ignore the law of their choice. It is conceivable that misguided citizens would take current legislative behavior as opportunity to ignore the law(s) of their choice. This is history in the making and we have taken a big step down a slippery slope of lawlessness.
This precedent must be corrected with the repudiation of this behavior.
Speaker Bryce Edgmon and President Cathy Giessel have demonstrated their capacity to thwart the will of the very people they were chosen to represent and the rest of Alaskans by claiming they have a right to ignore the law of the land. Their credibility is shot; how can they be trusted to write the law, let alone act in a leadership capacity, if they will not follow the law?
I am not easily offended but having fought in two wars to defend our way of life and support of our form of self-government, I am appalled that these leaders should choose to act in such a cavalier, shortsighted, and contemptuous manner. I can only hope that members of their respective districts will recognize the danger their representatives have placed us in and act accordingly. Our way of life depends on it.
I call on all legislators to consider alternatives for these two leadership positions and act immediately to replace these legislators with members who will follow the law and lead others to follow the law. Our credibility as legislators depends on it.
Ben Carpenter represents House District 29, the northern part of the Kenai Peninsula, stretching to Seward.