The annual migration to Juneau begins by ferry - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, September 19, 2021
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The annual migration to Juneau begins by ferry

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The annual migration of legislators and staff members to Juneau began today, starting with the cross-Gulf ferry from Whittier, which takes legislators’ cars and pets, clothes, NutriBullets, and Instant Pots to the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal, 12.8 miles north of Juneau. It leaves Whittier at 6 pm.

It’s a special trip each year just for the Legislature. This year it’s on the M/V Kennicott through what is expected to be moderate seas for this time of year — about 15 foot rollers.

The legislators and staff leaving today on the ferry will first stop at the Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, where they have to get a COVID-19 test before they can get on the ferry. Then they need to drive 55 miles on the Seward Highway to reach the Whittier Tunnel. The tunnel is open one way at a time in intervals, and vehicles need to be there in plenty of time to get through the tunnel and be at the ferry terminal by 3 pm for boarding.

Chances are the usual cafeteria services aboard the ferry will be drastically cut back this year, and so travelers will not be cruising in comfort.

Three days after they arrive in Juneau the legislators and staff will have to take another COVID test and quarantine for 10 days. Most, however, will head to the Fred Meyer store on Glacier Highway and stock up groceries, which will effectively break the required quarantine.

Alternately, those going to work at the Capitol can arrive by air today, Jan. 4, and quarantine for 14 days.

As for the eight legislators who have already had COVID-19, they’ll have to bring a proof of having the antibody.

The legislators, their families, and staff can also drive through Canada and pick up a ferry in Haines. Currently the Alcan Highway has packed snow, black ice, and rough sections, which is normal for this time of year. The drive can take one to two days, depending on conditions.

Fewer flights are going into Juneau this winter, and the schedule appears to be changing from day to day depending on the loads. Legislators who spoke with MRAK said their reservations have been altered by Alaska Airlines twice.

Another ferry will cross the Gulf with remaining legislative cars around Jan. 25th. Some legislators are postponing bringing their cars to Juneau in expectation that the session will be short, or that a rules change will be made that allow legislators to vote remotely.

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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

  • The legislators will be paid handsomely for the agony.

    Lobbiests will be compensated handsomely.

    The Governor called a special session in Wasilla once before.

    Governor Dunleavy has given unlimited power to municipalities and Villages.

    Governor it’s high time to call another session in Anchorage or Wasilla so the average voter has access to the legislature. It’s way past time to return Government to the people.

    Finally Stand Tall and prove you work for the people, not special interest and unions.

    • You’ll be waiting a long time for Dunleavy to show himself. Or exhibit leadership. Giessel broke him.

    • Not Anchorage as it’s worse than Juneau in most respects, but Wasilla has merit. Anyone who reads MustReadAK regularly would have to agree. I would hope that after one session in Wasilla the state could return to the 40 hour workweek. Two sessions in Wasilla and we could see a reduction in public employee union leverage with legislators. After four sessions in Wasilla the state might regain the courage it had when this state was being built! Costs for Medicaid, SNAP, WIC and the many other welfare programs would begin to recede.

  • You want to have accountable government in Alaska?

    1-Vote better people in
    2-End the Muskox coalition forever (see #1).
    3-Move the capital to the mainland road system. Doesn’t have to be Anchorage-probably shouldn’t be- but somewhere on Parks or Richardson where the voters can drive to it in a day if desired.

    Personally I think it ought to be in Delta, but I want to retire in Delta. Dont want to see if polluted by the legislature.

  • So the Legislature puts the AMHS out of service for the commoners, then the Rulers put it back into service for themselves, while they give the vaccines to the commoners first before they take the vaccines themselves. hahahahaha. Somethings is not adding up their fact numbers, their logic, are all wrong. 2+2 is not 8.

    The Legislature, their employees, and lobbists don’t need their cars, they can use the Capital City bus and Juneau Taxi services. There is no place to drive there anyway. Or they can do what outgoing Kriss-Tompkins done peddle his way around Juneau.

  • Good to see a small amount of that per diem cash coming back to the state ferry system.

  • Yeah, but who does the damage control?

  • There’s a couple of unnecessary trips the Ferry System can cancel to save some money!

  • So, who is the House Speaker? Who is the Senate President? Why assemble in Juneau early if leadership has not been determined? And last, what if a duly elected legislator does not quarantine for 14 days in Juneau before the session begins? Who has the authority to keep him or her out of the Capitol Building?
    Thanks for an attempt at these questions, Suzanne.

  • Full speed ahead……… Captain E.J. Smith

  • It would be cheaper to meet in Anchorage. They can use the BP building, as it is empty and fits all the needs.

    • Just make the Anchorage BP Building the new state Capitol. Plenty of room for many state offices too. Common sense, folks. Get the hell out of Juneau………for good. End this utter nonsense.

      • With the dictatorship running Anchorage there are already lots of vacant buildings suitable for housing the legislature and there’ll be many more as the diktats that are killing the economy forge ahead.

        Now let’s see how many of our lawlesslators welcome themselves to Juneau by breaking their “mandatory” (for us little people) quarantine to go to their shopping.

        Remember, laws are ONLY we the people. Elites need not conform.

    • We can put them up in an Anchorage taxpayer funded hotel too, we own a few.
      What better way to experience the real Alaska, it’ll be character building and a darn site cheaper!

      • Eric, Southeast Alaska IS the real Alaska. I challenge you to a week long hunting or hiking trip in the forests of SE Alaska versus anywhere further north. Done both many times. Hunting or hiking interior Alaska is like walking through a park.

  • Ferry delayed til tomorrow

  • Hmm, a charter ferry – how much does this cost? I assume the State is paying for it… Might be cheaper to buy the legs new cares to leave in Juneau. Unless you’re flying in a grand piano…

  • Time to fire up the Grift Mill.. the crooks are back in town.

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