Thursday, February 25, 2010

Like Taking a Drink From a Fire Hose

Iʻm sitting in the public lounge sort of overwhelmed with left over photos, videos, and notes from meetings and other things since Monday (and beyond.)  Someone yesterday mentioned the old quote about drinking from a fire hose to describe being in the legislature.  It may be worse, because with the fire hose, you know youʻre being hit.  Here, much of what is hitting you, may be invisible and you donʻt even know itʻs happening.  The previous post on the prayer was something I thought I could throw out there quickly while I catch my breath.

Things I havenʻt posted yet:
1.  Progress of HB 289 amending the ethics laws to incorporate the changes the AG wrote into regulations but with changes to clarify and limit somewhat. This was discussed Tuesday at State Affairs and today passed out of committee. There are two parts:
    1. Paying the legal fees of executive branch employees charged but later exonerated on ethics charges.
    2. Clarifying when spouses and other Governor and Lt. Gov. family members travel can be reimbursed by the state. (I use the word ʻclarifyʻ broadly.)

      The audio for the Tuesday session is here.  It includes at the beginning discussion of authorizing bonds for housing loans for veterans.  They are state bonds, but using a federal program that only five states took advantage of.

[Rep. Gruenberg and staffer presenting amendments 
to HB 289 to State Affairs Committee]

2.  Discussion of the Fish and Game Budget at the House Finance Fish and Game Subcommittee meeting, Monday I think.  I hadnʻt been to one of their meetings before and the decorum was a little looser than most meetings Iʻve been to.  Commissioner Denby Lloyd and two of his staff took pointed questions from the panel. My sense was that some of the Representatives were frustrated about how the department allocates resources around the state.  I really have no context to say a whole lot more other than people I asked afterwards said, "There are less fish to allocate and everyone is frustrated."  Thatʻs pretty simplistic, but I donʻt have time to gain expertise on every issue and all the personalities.  You can listen to this one here. 

3.  The Supreme Court Chief Justice met with legislators yesterday at lunch to bridge communication issues.  Justice Carpeneti spoke about the meaning of ʻlegislative intentʻ and how judges determine it.  He also asked the committee whether his belief that sometimes legislators, on the losing side of a debate, make speeches on the floor about the intent in hopes of influencing future court decisions even though their position was not the prevailing intent.  The legislators there agreed.  This audio is worth listening to.  This was the first meeting as I understand it where the Supreme Court and the Legislature are trying to work on cross-branch communications.  This was sponsored by the House Education Committee.


  1. Good stuff. You must be exhausted.

    Is 90 days enough?

  2. I remember the days of longer sessions. You're not going to find a lot of people who do remember being supportive of increasing session length.

    I'm afraid the present situation exists because of past time-wasting in the first month or more. Coupled with what was a then common sense appeal to cost-savings and complaints from legislators about time away from home and approaching summers. Too, it appealed to compromise with 'move the capitol' folks who ceaselessly want(ed) to move the capitol to Wasilla!

    SInce that irresistible itch still wants to be scratched, I seriously doubt a 120 day session amendment could work.

    But then, there's always today's arguments. Who needs past lessons learned?

  3. I get to the point where I have to just leave and let things settle in my brain.

    I did a post not long ago about the reports on the whether the 90 session works. The House poll showed strong belief that the 90 days has had a lot of negative impacts. One of the Senators wrote a page and a half why the 120 day session was better. The other two Senators just sent in how many people in their districts voted for the 90 day initiative.

  4. It all comes down to voter perception and voter interests, Steve, when it comes to constitutional amendment. Hope someone has done polling on this as it could very well be DOA if it were to pass both bodies.

    I understand you are seeing the problem up close; it gives you better knowledge of the current problems. Is there a plausible public interest reason for an advocacy group to form and find the money to educate?

    I would think the current state of affairs works well for lobbyist interests and that means the status quo is just fine.

  5. Jay, this was a simple ballot initiative that passed with a small minority. The legislature could simply change it with a statute. The Constitution only says no more than 120 days.

  6. Ah, out of the loop. The cords that bound me to my birth country are gradually beginning to slip. No regrets. EU is so much more interesting now.


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