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Alaska Editorials

Associated Press Updated: May 4, 2015 at 3:23 pm
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Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

May 4, 2015

Ketchikan Daily News: Much work remains

Ill-conceived. Undeserved. Unnecessary.

Pick whatever word you want, the Legislature's decision to adjourn for two weeks just three days into a special session is an ill-deserved, stunningly tone-deaf act.

Let's review: The Legislature fails to agree on a budget during its regular 90-day session, forcing overtime. During overtime, the Legislature creates a budget, but lacks the votes to fully fund it. Then it adjourns.

Exactly how has it earned a new break, just days into the special session Gov. Bill Walker was practically forced to call?

Thank goodness Ketchikan-area representatives Sen. Bert Stedman and Rep. Dan Ortiz haven't bought in to the majority leadership's reasoning, which as far as we can tell, has boiled down to the fact that it would prefer to meet in Anchorage rather than the Capitol, and it doesn't like meeting while construction is going on.

Not mentioned, but perhaps implied: They don't want to deal with the other issues — Medicaid expansion and Erin's Law — in the special session. (Meanwhile the House and Senate finance committees will hold budget hearings — in Anchorage, of course.)

So here we are, stuck in petulant discussions over where and when to meet rather than what to do.

We saw warning signs of this earlier in the 90-day session, when legislative leaders delayed on holding confirmation hearings for Walker's appointments. Walker responded with an executive proclamation declaring a joint session to hold the hearings on a certain day, and House and Senate leaders responded in turn by essentially ignoring it in favor of holding the hearings on their preferred day: The last day of the legislative session. Walker ultimately canceled the proclamation.

Now the bickering, basically over window dressing, has returned tenfold.

Who cares about the where and when? As a state, we are facing projected budget deficits of at least $3.5 billion a year for the near future. After 90-plus days of hearing all about the drastic sacrifices Alaskans need to make, are we really expected to accept whining about how the Holiday Inn in Anchorage is better than the Holiday Inn in Juneau?

Come on, guys, 90 days is nothing compared to the 120 days of the past.

__

May 1, 2015

Ketchikan Daily News: Washington state: Focus on your own plate

Having solved virtually every issue in their home jurisdictions, the Seattle City Council and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee are looking north to Alaska.

They've written formal letters asking U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to revoke federal oil and gas leases with Royal Dutch Shell in the Arctic outer continental shelf (Seattle City Council), and to avoid issuing any further leases in that area off Alaska (Gov. Inslee). The leases are undesirable because they will, in the Washingtonians' view, contribute to global climate change.

Washington's governor, Seattle City Council and Seattle Mayor Edward Murray also oppose a lease signed by Royal Dutch Shell and Foss Maritime for moorage space in the Seattle area for Shell's Arctic drilling fleet — a lease that's now the subject of a lawsuit filed by (surprise!) environmental groups.

The above information is cited in the Alaska Legislature's rightful response to Washington state's latest meddling in Alaska's economic affairs.

In mid-April, the Legislature approved Senate Joint Resolution 18, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek rebuke to the politicians of the nanny, er, Evergreen, state.

"This resolution sends a strong message to Washington state that Alaska will not tolerate its unsolicited interference in the multi-faceted and nationally strategic economic development plan for the Arctic," Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage said in announcing the passage of SJR18.

At its outset, SJR18 notes that Alaska pursued statehood to cease being an economic colony of Washington state or anyone else.

Not that Washington state doesn't continue to benefit mightily from Alaska — the Last Frontier accounts for about 113,000 jobs and approximately $5 billion in annual sales for Washington, according to the resolution.

The fun part of SJR18 points out that Washington state has a great opportunity to reduce carbon dioxide emissions right there at home.

Closing the Boeing production facilities in Washington state would result in 650 fewer aircraft each year, aircraft that "otherwise would discharge more than 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide during the lifetimes of those aircraft and would provide a significant reduction in the release of pollutants into the atmosphere."

Of course, now that Alaska's Legislature has drawn attention to the Boeing situation, one can be certain that Inslee, Murray and the Seattle City Council are busy writing letters demanding closure of those production facilities.

SJR18 also makes it clear that if Seattle doesn't want to host Shell's fleet, Alaska will do so, gladly.

"The Alaska State Legislature invites Royal Dutch Shell to use a port in this state as the homeport of its Arctic drilling fleet if the lease with the Port of Seattle is terminated," states SJR18.

To that we say, 'Here, here!"

Really. Here — as in Ketchikan. We've got a fabulous deep-water port and a maritime infrastructure that just keeps getting better. C'mon on up!

The Alaska Legislature was correct to remark on Washington's meddling. SJR18 makes the right points, and stresses that Alaska has the capability to handle the job-creating situations that Washington apparently doesn't want.

After so many years of Washington state treating Alaska as its junior, it's not surprising that Washington politicians continue to feel they should weigh in against Alaska's interests on issues.

We, as the Alaska Legislature has done, suggest that the Washingtonians step back, and focus on their own state.

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