22 March 2007

The Will of the People?

Republicans in Juneau claim to want to hear what the people think about the possibility of a constitutional amendment that bans employment benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. That's why they're willing to spend 1-point-2 million dollars from the state treasury to have a special election. (And they do this even as they reject hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending on social programs, citing a need to keep spending in check.)

Leaving aside all the obvious objections to this election (legislating through the constitution, Anchorage-heavy turnout, no provision in the constitution for an advisory vote, etc.), let's just consider how lawmakers are responding to recent expressions of the will of the people.

Voters established a 90-day legislative session last year. We've already heard some lawmakers reject that idea and say the constitution hasn't been changed so they'll stay in session just as long as they please.

House Republicans are moving a bill that eviscerates the Ocean Ranger program established by a voter initiative last fall. Apparently, when we approved the measure we didn't actually know what we were doing so it's fine to ignore our constitutionally binding vote, particularly when you're taking contributions from the cruise ship industry.

Were it not for the heightened attention to ethics this session, I imagine there would be a push to undo some parts of the campaign finance initiative that passed last session as has happened in the past. That would make lawmakers three for three in ignoring their constituents.

I'm going to go vote on April 3rd but only because I like voting, not because I'm confident lawmakers will actually listen to my vote.

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