02 May 2007

End-of-session fireworks

I was getting a bit disappointed that AGIA appeared to be moving so uncontroversially through committee. Actually, I didn't have much of an opinion on it but I'm glad nonetheless for the heightened level of debate surrounding the "most important piece of legislation" this term.

I don't have any particular opinion on this debate since - like many Alaskans, I am sure - I'm not quite sure I fully understand the terms of the debate. So here's a series of disconnected thoughts.

First, the Palin administration is in a very strong position. The governor is popular and her stance in opposition to the producers is inherently popular. Plus, she's got Wally on her side!

Second, where have the producers been before this? When they testified in the four previous committees of referral did they make similar statements and they just were not reported? Or did they save their big threats until the end-of-session when the stakes are higher and their game of chicken would be taken more seriously.

Third, I wouldn't have been surprised before but I'll be especially un-surprised if AGIA winds up in a special session now. To all those lawmakers who have been saying they want to avoid one of those, I can only say, "Sorry, no one forced you into this job.

Fourth, I was surprised - and pleased - at how Bill McAllister wrote about the Senate majority yesterday:

As the clock ticks toward the May 16 adjournment of the Legislature, the position of the senate majority remains in a fog.

House Democrats and the Senate Republican minority appear generally to be supporting AGIA and yesterday House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, said he foresaw the bill passing that chamber with few changes.

So at this point, the big question mark is the Senate bipartisan working group.

I listened to the press conference and I think he portrays their lack of clarity accurately but it's surprising to see reporting in Alaska that actually, you know, calls it like it is.

I would love to know what sort of conversations are going on behind the closed-doors of majority Senators. I also wonder if the lawmakers sitting in those chairs have the gravitas, sense of purpose, and general wherewithal to be able to come to grips with the magnitude of what they're doing. On the one hand, there are energy professionals who have studied the issues for a long time. On the other hand, there are some citizen-lawmakers with a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's hard to be against AGIA when two very divergent pol's are for it e.g. Barnie Gottstein and Wally Hickle. Also it is normally not good for the producers to own the pipeline - they don't in most places other than in Alaska, which they consider a third world country.