Why Alaska can't have nice things - Must Read Alaska
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Monday, November 29, 2021
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Why Alaska can’t have nice things

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Alaskans have been looking at states like Florida, Arizona, and Texas lately, as places that are the land of the free and home of the brave compared to the Last Frontier, which is taking a socialist turn for the worst.

Other Red State legislatures are working on substantive legislation, such as promoting civics education, voting security, gun rights, and heartbeat bills.

Some Alaskans are asking: Why can’t the Legislature of Alaska provide bills of substance for Gov. Mike Dunleavy to sign?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed bills last month to strengthen civics instruction and civics literacy in Florida’s kindergarten through postsecondary public schools.

HB 5 had 28 sponsors in the Florida House. It requires the Department of Education to develop or approve integrated civics education curriculum that meets certain requirements; requires the Education Department to curate oral history resources to be used with the curriculum; and requires the Department to approve civic education curricula submitted by school districts & charter schools.

Florida’s SB 1108 requires non-special education postsecondary students to complete a civic literacy course and pass a specified assessment to demonstrate competency in civic literacy as a prerequisite for graduation.

Florida’s HB 233 requires state colleges and universities to conduct annual assessments of the viewpoint diversity and intellectual freedom at their institutions to ensure that Florida’s postsecondary students will be shown diverse ideas and opinions, including those that they may disagree with or find uncomfortable. This bill is intended to curb the socialist-woke culture being promoted by the leftists who control education.

Alaska’s Legislature was, in the same year, busy passing bills such as HB 27, naming a bridge in Cordova for irene (lower case i) Webber. She may have been a good person, but naming a bridge after her is not substantive legislation. Not even close.

While Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposed strong legislation to create a spending cap, limits on taxes (must be approved by voters), and a constitutional 50-50 Permanent Fund dividend formula, the Alaska Legislature, controlled by a center-left group of lawmakers, passed five bills extending various boards, such as HB 109, extending the board for the Alaska Bar Association, or HB 117, extending the board for direct-entry midwives. It passed three bills to make mandatory adjustments for federal compliance. Yay.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill this month preventing local governments from teaching Critical Race Theory. Arizona’s HB 2906, prohibits “the state and any local governments from requiring their employees to engage in orientation, training or therapy that suggest an employee is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” Ducey’s office said in a statement.

The Alaska Legislature, in the same year, passed four bills that name bridges, license plates, roads and days, five board extension bills, two budget bills, four extending program bills, two reporting requirement bills, and eight good governance (“should have already happened”) bills.

Last month in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed seven pieces of Second Amendment-related legislation. He signed a “heartbeat bill,” ensuring that babies in the womb cannot be killed via abortion after the sixth week of gestation. This bill will save millions of lives in the future.

The Alaska Legislature, in 150 days of session, did not pass one bill of substance. This represents a serious lack of quality leadership. In the House, the Speaker is a Republican in name only who puts her own provincial interests ahead of the greater good of the state. In the Senate, moderate Republicans are willing to gut the Permanent Fund dividend and few appear willing to step up and take a hard stand for smaller government.

The current legislative working group that is supposed to advance a fiscal plan for the state has less than two weeks left until August, and nothing has been accomplished. That group has heard the same presentation from Alexi Painter, Legislative Finance director, that it has heard umpteen times before, and a reasonable person might conclude that the working group is wasting its time and all Alaskans’ time.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy can’t sign legislation that’s not sent to his desk by the Legislature. He can’t rule by edict; our democracy is set up with three branches of government, each providing tension to the others.

Alaskans are suffering from a Legislature that is running a racket — racking up per diem and producing nothing of substance, except a budget that was a hot mess when it arrived at the governor’s desk.

Even the governor’s bill to create a question for voters — “Shall the PFD formula be a 50-50 split of available funds?” — barely received one hearing per chamber.

This week, Rep. Tom McKay of Anchorage filed a bill that bans racist teachings of “Critical Race Theory” in Alaska’s schools. With the Legislature we have right now, what are the chances that bill will ever be heard in committee? Co-Chairs Reps. Harriet Drummond and Andi Story will bury that bill so deep in the Education Committee it will never see the light of day.

Our Legislature is made up of 60 individuals, and it’s not fair to paint them all with the same broad strokes. But as a whole, the Alaska Legislature has failed the people of Alaska. Again.

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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

  • Actually it is pretty fair to paint them all with the same broad strokes as worthless. Not a leader in the group and they pretty much all need to go.

  • Citizens of these Senators and Representatives need to confront them face to face and demand they do work not frivolous meaning legislation.

  • Well! Alaskans who know better and young adult children who follow their parents’ biblical values, continual moving around does not help move the State of Alaska forward, while those who can’t move choose to repeat bad behavioral habits.

    Those states are better off because of their generations of residents and their children stay put, oftentimes their college graduate adult children return home to build their life, still voting the same way as their parents for community leaders who will pass bills protecting peoples’ lives and livelihoods.

    Alaska doesnt get anywhere remaining a transient state.

  • Thank you Suzanne Downing for this very articulate and timely piece! You hit the nail on the head and expressed what many of us Alaskans were thinking but reluctant to admit, with your very astute statement:

    “Alaskans are suffering from a Legislature that is running a racket – racking up per diem and producing nothing of substance, except a budget that was a hot mess from the time it reached the governor’s desk.”

    • Well said Ross. I should add: An attitude that says beer pong, leg wrestling, and hair-slinging hissy fits are more important than serving their constituents (I’m NOT including much of the bureaucracy in the word “constituents”), a bottomless per diem well, and an arrogance that is astonishing to the casual observer – does not lend itself to anyone having confidence that they will ever do anything of substance. The only thing they seem to be capable of and/or willing to do is stymie the Governor’s agenda and perpetuate a very inefficient and over-bloated bureaucracy. We need leaders in congress, we need an end to the binding caucus rule, we need the legislature OUT of Juneau. We also need an end to Prop 2, and the statutory PFD paid out – including the PFD’s that were stolen from us starting with bull walker… I could go on, but now I’m getting angry enough to start being as incoherent as our legislature (nah, I can’t compete – I don’t drink…). Sorry folks – I know we have a few good legislators, but they are definitely not in control.

      • Well-stated

  • Ugh.

  • The Legislature has become a high-priced jobs bill void of real talent or desire to address the real world that Alaskan families live in. There is no excuse for the pathetic ranking of our schools regarding comparable results in lower 48 schools. The perceived necessity for forward funding has no basis in a budget line item consideration. Where are the damn results of this money grab?

    There is no effort to fix this broken unproductive system. This broken system will a blight on Alaska’s future. One unknown fact about the education system funding is that two part time married teachers are able to work parttime and still be able to warded one full time pension. What is wrong with this policy besides everything.

  • The voters elected republicans that were actually democrats, which joined the minority to create a democrat majority and we see the results.

  • OK, maybe they’re running a racket, but just racking up per diem is a very minor league racket. The real problem is that they’re supporting several rackets and doing so at the expense of the majority of the citizenry. The government of Alaska runs for the unionized public employee racket, the education racket, the healthcare racket, and the welfare racket. The majorities of both bodies are owned by those rackets and server their interets; the rest of Alaska gets hind teat.

  • Thank you Susan as you are correct in all you said. Unfortunately until the citizens of Alaska who keep voting these con artists into office year after year because they support and provide mountains of money for their special programs vote them out nothing will change. They have turned public service and working for the good of all Alaskans into a sham to collect their high salaries, ever increasing per diem and special benefits for only them. How does any legislator take their oath of office knowing they plan to ignore the laws they have passed, fail to do their Constitutional Duty within the time frame required. If every Alaskan decided that they would only obey the laws that don’t inconvenience them or that by ignoring those laws they can line their own pockets we would be arrested, tried and sent to jail. But for most legislators it is just another day of elected self service. I compliment the very few that try to stand up against these self-serving individuals.

  • Well done Suzanne, you are spot on in the piece!

  • I literally complained to one of the committee (can’t remember) which at the beginning of the year about naming stupid bridges and you know what they did? They blamed another committee for that happening. I’m glad I’m not the only one that saw this garbage during the regular session, thanks Susan

  • Alaska should be a nation not a state , our hands are bound by American politics and money, ridiculous.

  • Thank you for bringing this to our attention. This is what I was feeling but I don’t follow closely so I didn’t know for sure. I defiantly see what other states are doing and I have been wondering why our state hasn’t been doing the same.

  • First we have to end the subsidies! PCE is a great example of how we use government to steal self-reliance. SNAP is another example. As a matter of fact, subsidies are the growing part of the $12 billion budget. Other parts of the budget are either staying the same or even falling. Second, the Governor has to propose bills in addition to his so far completely unsuccessful and largely unpopular (and hardly understood, even by him) fiscal measures. We are a red state with a blue legislature, at least in the legislative leadership. There isn’t a fiscal conservative on the Senate Finance Committee, for example, not one. Bernie Sanders would fit in well on House Finance. And Thompson, in the House Minority, has a bill to require we keep our guns locked up at all times. We have fake Republicans in the Legislature, and we have a Governor who proposed a needed level of budget reductions early on and then lost all his courage.

    • While I agree with you on most things, I have to disagree with your viewpoint on SNAP. I truly hope you never have to experience not having enough food for your family because you had to pay the exorbitantly high rent charged in this state (for sub-standard housing in many cases). Those SNAP benefits are sometimes all that keeps the working-poor in food. Now, there do need to be changes there. SNAP should not be able to be used for any kind of junk food or junk drinks.

      • Karen-been there, done that, working any job for a buck and leftovers from a restaurant, and no gubmint handouts. A bag of rice feeds a family for a month with the supplement of a few rabbits, squirrels and grouse. Canned soup is not expensive and bread is still good long after the expiration date, especially when toasted. I strongly disagree with SNAP-it destroys the productivity of people. We have much game up here. A bag each of flour, rice and sugar at the beginning of the month would subsidize sufficient to stave off hunger and perhaps incentive finding a job-I see plenty of signs, and fast food places generally feed you (and at night everything on the hot rack went to employees). A job is a start from which you can build a life.

  • I’m embarrassed at the airing of Alaska’s dirty laundry, but it did need to happen…to be put out there for all to see and understand in no uncertain terms. I’ve long said that we need to end the practice of paying per-diem when the legislature does not get the job done in the time allowed. There should be no shilly-shallying. If they have to go back, it should be on their own dime. I also feel that the meetings should be in Anchorage, where the greater majority of their constituents can reach them, instead of them hiding away in Juneau. As big as Alaska’s population is now, the capitol really needs to be on the mainland.

    • Karen, Juneau is in the North American Continent , which compises the ” Mainland” so to speak.

  • Dunleavy could start by issuing an executive order preventing his own state employees from being indoctrinated with racist training which is occurring at high expense. He doesn’t need the legislature for that and it would be a step in the right direction.

  • Just a WAG: Sending our elected officials to a remote retreat (Juneau).

  • I have lived in Alaska almost fifty years and have suffered through some truly stupid/petty legislatures, but this current crop of culls is truly the worse of the worst!

  • Here’s one for you, Suzanne:
    Ask anyone under age 40 what a civics class is. I bet 80 to 90% do not know.

  • I have to agree with Suzanne that the Legislature accomplishes very little these days. Of course one huge reason is the specter of the Dividend hovering behind every budget stalemate.
    The other reason is the incredible waste of time at the start of the session, including the political gyrations in the formation of the majority caucuses. Then at the end of the session, there is always the need to come up with 2/3 or 3/4 majorities to enact the budget.

    • I have thought that it might be a good idea to require that state government complete its budget requirement before the consideration of any other business or legislation.

  • This is a good point. When I hear the Reinboldians complain the Gov hasn’t done enough I often wonder if they have any idea how the system of government works. DeSantis et al get handed GREAT pieces of legislation almost daily, and then become rock stars with the wave of a pen. To be fair, they use the bully pulpit to help move those bills along, and they do as much good for the cause of liberty as they do for their own careers when they grandstand and sign the bills, but with the gutless corrupt group we have now in the legislature, it’s a miracle the gov can do anything at all.

    • Dunleavy pissed his pants in Wasilla. They have owned him since.

      What could he have done? Veto things for a start. Send the troopers to drag the legislators to Wasilla. Not give back money to the UA system. Beat the bushes, rally the troops, use his bully pulpit.

      Instead he hid behind Ben Stevens desk. I don’t expect him to win every fight. But I expected him to TRY.

      He’s the most powerful Governor in America. And the most impotent.
      He’s also gonna be a one term failure

  • Alaska cannot have nice things for the same reason Americans can no longer have nice things.
    There is a persistent myth that the novel constitutional concept that government is still controlled by the “consent of the governed”. This principle and restraint was abandoned decades ago.
    The next myth is that Republican office holders differentiate themselves from Democrats due to being solid individuals holding ethical standards in executing their duties once elected.
    We voters are easily confused and meekly prefer to lie to ourselves as though we are powerless “victims”, perpetuating the system in the same dysfunctional manner.
    The Alaska GOP is only loyal to and beholden to specific special interests and only needs voters every couple years to maintain their position.
    A few problematic representatives are elected from time to time, creating “gridlock” issues and interfering with the orderly flow of state funds into the proper hands, costing the special interests and the office holders they sponsor unnecessary stress and money.
    RCV is a recently proposed and now active solution that should deliver the proper election outcomes more consistently and minimize the need to answer uncomfortable constituent questions and increase state agency power and size.

  • Alaska can’t have nice things because:

    1-The GOP is useless
    2-The Governor has no spine for a fight
    3-The legislature is corrupt
    4-We’ve been Californiacated
    5-Most people can’t be bothered to vote or are so fed up they don’t try anymore.
    6-Laws are for little people.

    You want to fix Alaska. Too late. Name one state the left has ever lost control of once they seize it.

    • I would use a pseudonym also if I wrote tripe like this post

      • Then your adoption of an appropriate pseudonym is long overdue. That is, assuming that “Frank Rast” is not pseudonym.
        .
        I have encountered you many times in the censorship-happy cesspool that the ADN comments sections have become, and you were just as dishonest, arrogant and disingenuous there as you are here.

  • Passing more legislation and regulations and more government is the last thing this Republican wants. As far as Desantis and Critical Race Theory, it should be local governments and school districts deciding what history should be taught and in what depth at various ages, not State or Federal government with over reaching laws and one size fits all standards.

  • We had the most secure election in State history according to Republican Governor Kevin Meyer. Why do we need more voting laws? We have open carry and no permit requirements for hand guns, why do we need more gun rights?

  • Madam Editor, you shoulda been a carpenter the way you hit this nail on the head.
    .
    “… our democracy is set up with three branches of government, each providing tension to the others.”
    .
    Alaska can’t have nice things because the Alaska Bar Association, in practicality, owns and operates one branch of government, 421 special interests bought and paid for access to (or one might say ownership of) the second branch of government, and these two branches of government appear obsessed with deposing the duly elected head of the third branch of government.
    .
    There’s your tension.
    .
    Now we have the Corrupt Politicians Protection Act, aka ranked-choice voting, aka BM2, selective voter disenfranchisement, plus Lt. Governor Meyer’s Dominion vote-tabulation machinery to make sure things stay tense.
    .
    C’mon man! Nobody in his right mind wants to offend the Stutes-Micciche front office and get benched, and lose committee assignments, and lose the ability to bring money home, and thereby lose re-election
    .
    … which means the legislator half of Alaska’s lobbyist-legislator team knows to shut the hell up, wear fearmasks as ordered, and obey Stutes-Micciche,
    .
    … which means Alaskans get whatever things, nice or otherwise, Stutes-Micciche choose to give them.
    .
    Right now, Alaskans who can change things seem more afraid of losing their things than their country.
    .
    Imagine what’ll happen when that attitude changes, when Americans decide they’ve been pushed hard enough, far enough.
    .
    There’s your tension.

  • Enough we must vote all these politicians out immediately let’s create our own term limits till we get the politicians with integrity we need. Let’s take control and Alaskans let dominion know they must scat election integrity politicians integrity we all go to work with integrity it’s time for us all to enforce integrity.

  • When I moved here 15 years ago I thought it was one of the free-ist states in the nation. What I see happening currently makes me sad what this state has become. The antics of the Anchorage assembly were the icing on the cake. Murkowski must go – period. Why do we have Dominion machines? Where is our election audit? Did that many stupid people actually vote for ranked voting? What a freaking disaster. Looking forward to Florida in a few years for retirement not just to escape the winters, but to escape the worthless Alaska state government. Dashing plans for a summer cabin as well. Pathetic.

  • Every legislator and our governor should read this entire comments section. Should print it out. Hang it on their bathroom mirror. Read it every day again.

  • Well, Madame Editor, run for office and try to change things!

  • Florida has the lotteries down there. When I came up here in 1982 the school district was hurting in Florida. Now, 40 yrs later they are thriving because a percentage of of the lottery $$ goes to the schools. If we keep giving our $ to the Ak legislature to spend we are sunk in a hole😰

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