Monday, February 01, 2010

Meeting the Press

Started my first Monday as a legislative blogger by reading the Health and Social Services Budget late last night and more over breakfast. The hardcopy is about 388 pages (it's too bulky to carry around with me) and it's got seven or eight pages of ACRONYM glossary, about 365 terms. You can check it out yourself online.I'm not ready to write about it yet, I'm just telling you what today's been like.

I also got a copy of the Department of Law's budget. It's MUCH thinner, just charts and numbers. Not much explanation of the programs and goals.

Rep. Pete Petersen had suggested I come up to learn more about HB 187 "An Act requiring insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders, describing the method for establishing a treatment plan for those disorders, and defining the treatment required for those disorders; and providing for an effective date." If that seems like a long title, it's because the bills are required to have a title that clearly explains what all is in them. I'll give you some background on that when I write about HJR (House Joint Resolution) 8, which I worked on when I was still a staffer for Rep. G.  
The Health Budget notebook is about this size.  I didn't want the whole notebook.  For now I just took copies of the Bill, the latest version of the Committee Substitute, and two studies of the costs of this.

The thing I wanted to do today was check in with the Press folks. There's a House Minority (Democratic) press office (half a room in the minority leader's three room offices) and there's a House Majority (Republican) press office that's got at least two rooms for itself.

This is Frank Ameduri of the Minority press office.   Don't get the wrong impression.  That's not his office.  His office mate had two guests in his office, so we moved into the Minority leader's office to talk.    I had heard that bloggers weren't being given press credentials.  That's not a big handicap - the main privilege is getting on the floor with the legislators when they're in session and something about being able to ask questions at press conferences.  Since those events are likely to already get the most coverage, that's not essential.  But, on principle, I think bloggers should get credentials if need be, so I had decided today to check out what it means to get a credential, how one goes about it, and who makes the rules and the decisions.

Frank also sent me to Sen. Coghill's office to see a staffer who had worked on these issues  when then Rep. Coghill had been House Rules Chair.  She said she had recommended that the press police themselves.  But she didn't know if that recommendation had been taken up.

Note, the Minority Leader's office is on the fourth floor of the Capitol.  Sen. Coghill's office is on the fifth floor.  There's a stairway in the middle of the building where you see people coming and going.  The staff don't need stairmasters because they're walking up and down all the time.  (There is an elevator, but lots of people use the stairs.)

From there I went to the Republican press room on the first floor.  Sorry, I forgot to take any pictures there.  I sort of met some of these folks while I was a staffer because they're right next to the copy machine Rep. G's office uses.  Besides learning how things work, I also wanted to let this office know that I'm hoping to cover Republican legislators as well as Democrats and to get advice on that.

And then I went down to the ground floor  to find the press room.   There I found Pat Forgey of the Juneau Empire who's in this first photo.   The other two in the front room were Bob Tkacz of the Fishermen's News, and Sean Cockerham of the Anchorage Daily News.  I knew Sean from when we covere of the trials in Anchorage. 

They seemed to be interested in a blogger being credentialed and said someone from Juneau had applied and been turned down.

I forgot to take pictures until after Bob had left, but Pat thought his desk would be a good stand in.  

And here's Sean.  He says the ADN will rotate reporters down.  I think he said Lisa Demer and Rich Mauer would be down later in the session. 

There's also a backroom and I met a couple of folks from KTUU Anchorage in there - Ted Land and Daniel Hernandez.

Then I went off to finally nail down an internet option for the apartment.  Juneau Electronics, on the Juneau end of the Juneau Douglas bridge, has an agreement with ATT which let's you get a box to get the signals without having to either get a two year contract or buy the gadget for $200.   They also have Apple parts.


  1. Very cool reading about your Juneau exploits. I think bloggers should be allowed to be credentialed. But if the legislature won't give you credentials, they can't hold you to any press rules either, so you can set your own parameters (prime benefit - no tie wearing!).

  2. Thanks for the photos of the press room. I used to occupy the chair next to Pat and across from Bob T. The ADN used to have their own office down the street. Good memories.

  3. Sean Cockerham? Huh, I'd like to meet his tailor!


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