Friday, January 20, 2012

Why Kokayi Is Going To Lose A Lot Of Weight In Juneau

A friend of mine has decided that kids going hungry here in Anchorage isn't right. He's working to End Child Hunger by 2015. He's been pushing a bill that would put $2million into feeding kids at school.   The legislative website tells you this:

REPRESENTATIVE(S)Kawasaki, Petersen, Kerttula, Munoz

TITLE: "An Act providing for funding for school lunch and breakfast; and providing for an effective date."

See where it says "Current Status" above?  The (H) means House (of Representatives) and FIN means Finance Committee.  It passed the Senate last year pretty quickly.  And then it went to the House Finance Committee on March 3, 2011.  It's been there ever since.   Since the Legislature is on a two year cycle, and this is the second year, it's still there.  

Note that the first sponsor is Wielechowski.  He's an Anchorage Democrat who has also been a strong opponent of HB 110.  That's the bill the Governor wants that will give the oil companies a $2 billion a year break on their taxes.  Each year.  In exchange for vague words about more jobs and investment.  Words.  Not even written down.  No commitments.  

Kokayi is planning to wait until Feb. 6 to see if the Finance Committee co-chairs will let the bill out on to the House floor for a vote.  If they don't, he's pledged to fast until they do.  

I'm betting he's going to lose a lot of weight.  

HB 110 is the highest priority of the House Republicans and the Governor.  Now that all the politicians that went to prison for corruption are out, it seems like things are getting back to how they were.  

I'm guessing that as long as Wielechowski is going to fight to block HB100 in the Senate (and he's not alone on that - Republicans and Democrats defeated it last year) S3 isn't moving.  That's how they play the game in Juneau.  Wielechowski's bill to fund school breakfasts and lunches (we're one of the few states that doesn't provide state money for that even though most other states are in a financial pinch and we've got $2 billion a year to give back to the oil companies).  I doubt that co-chairs Stolze (Chugiak/South Matsu) or Thomas (Haines) will move the bill until HB 110 is passed through the Senate.  And even then chairs have been known to just let a bill die as a form of punishment.  I don't know for sure that's what's happening.  Maybe they just think $2 million to feed hungry kids is a waste of money as opposed to getting $2 billion back into the oil company coffers.  

What are you going to do to help Kokayi End Child Hunger in Alaska by 2015?   He's got links at his site to write a letter and to join the peanut butter drive.


  1. Quite a stretch to imagine (H)FIN holding up milk for kids until they get the Govs oil bill through the Senate. Your talking 20 million vs. 2 billion, and the reality is HB110 is toast in the SEN regardless of the school meals bill. More likley you have fiscal conservatives in (H)FIN,already feeling the heat to crank up education spending,and more spending period, and hesitant to spend more for anything, and that includes meals for kids. I believe your friend Kokayi would be far more effective to contact the constituents in districts of (H)FIN Chairs & FIN members to in turn contact their own legislators to push for hearings & passage of the school meals bill. Much better chance of legislators responding to their own constits than to a hunger strike. But then again Mr.Kokayi would get far less personal attention doing it that way, so whats more important to his cause, personal media splash(and losing alot of weight,nothing wrong with that)or working it a much more effective,traditional and low key manner.

    1. Thanks for your input Anon, First, I'd just say I posted this before HB 110 was toast.

      Getting Stoltz's constituents to pressure him is a good strategy and I would guess Kokayi would say his hunger strike (which is symbolically relevant to the issue of child hunger) is his best way of attracting District 16 voters' attention. He's tried talking to the legislators involved without success.

      My discussions with legislators and their staffs in the last couple of years, lead me to believe that holding bills for political reasons and grudges is not uncommon, but, of course, it is only speculation in this particular case. But it's consistent with the Alaska Business Report's blanket F grade for the Senate Majority.

      If you know of where Stoltz and others who have held the bill over the last couple of years have publicly explained their objections, do let me know.


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