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September 17, 2021

The Legislative Session – A Review

The good news is that it’s over. We knew it would be bad, and it was worse. Now it just needs to be hauled out behind the shed, and put out of its misery.

There is no candy coating a big pile of bear scat, so all we must do is march on. We’ve been told that THIS session just dealt with financial issues. So, now that we’re screwed in that department, next session we’re free to tackle the social issues. And if we all survive that, there’s a big fat election in 2014 that could wipe the slate clean if Alaskans want to.

I watched the last days on Gavel 2 Gavel, as my lovely state and it’s incredible treasure was handed over on a platter to the salivating gluttons that are the wealthiest corporations in the history of the world. It was painful to watch.

I watched Republican legislators like Eric Feige of Chickaloon, and Tammie Wilson of Fairbanks start their arguments with, “If I was an oil company…” and then proceed to tell Democrats that their amendments simply did not go far enough in giving away our wealth, and made it too difficult for Conoco and Exxon and BP to plunder our treasury. “What kind of a message are we sending?” they asked. And so billions will now depart from the State of Alaska on non-stop flight to London, and Texas. See ya! Fun while it lasted!

And I watched a stalwart Democratic lineup stand there in front of the firing squad, and speak their peace. It was hopeless, but they soldiered on to bear witness, to speak truth to power, to explain their position to those watching at home, and to state proudly that they were on the right side of history. They lost. But the consolation prize is that they get to sleep well at night.

Let’s check in with our Senate and House Heroes and see what they had to say on Facebook, as the session ended.


Democratic Senators Johnny Ellis, Bill Wielechowski, Berta Gardner, Hollis French, and Lyman Hoffman.

Sen. Bill Wieechowski:

We fought the good fight on oil taxes, but fell just short. Tomorrow begins a new chapter in this fight. I think history will be kind to us. I am sure proud to know and work with these Senators.


Sen. Hollis French:
Just minutes ago I was trying to stop SB 21. It passed 12-8. Not much to like about this situation, but you can like me trying to stop it, I suppose.

Very proud this morning of my Democratic compatriots in the House. They fought like tigers against a horrible oil tax. Thank you Les Gara, Beth Kerttula, Geran Tarr, Harriet Drummond, Andy Josephson, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Chris Tuck, Scott Kawasaki, and Max Gruenberg!


Rep. Les Gara:

Found something good about the GOP oil tax giveaway. Fire starter for an end of session bonfire.



Rep. Geran Tarr:

Last night of session. We’re keeping smiles on our faces!


Reps. Chris Tuck, Harriet Drummond, Scott Kawasaki, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Andy Josephson, Beth Kerttula, Geran Tarr, Les Gara, and Max Gruenberg

Rep. Beth Kerttula:

A fantastic caucus!

Rep. Scott Kawasaki:

House passed tax breaks for big oil corporations at 2am w/unconvincing oil experts, oil industry testimony and hundreds of thousands in TV/Radio/Print/Lobbying. The state pushes around $1-Billion of our oil without guarantees, mathematical modeling or logic. Democrats tried to hold the line. Very sad night.

I’ve tried a couple times to write a wrap-up of the fiscal debacle, but I just didn’t have it in me. Fortunately, Michael Wenstrup, the fabulous new Chair of the Democratic Party, did. So, I’m stealing his. And there are actually a few pretty heinous things that didn’t become law. So, there’s that.

Cheers to you, Democratic legislators (and a couple Republicans with an impressive spine). We will not forget who stood with us, and who looked us in the eye and sold us out.

We’ll need the next nine months to recover, and then back in the saddle again.


The 2013 state legislative session is over, and Alaska’s budget is in critical condition. Following passage of SB 21, the Governor’s oil giveaway, the projected 2014 budget shortfall is between $1.6 and $1.7 billion. This is the issue that will define Parnell’s tenure: A transition from large budget surpluses to enormous deficits, accompanied by a loss of our state’s competitiveness.

News reports are coming out already about how SB 21 makes certain oil projects uneconomical by ending oil exploration incentives. SB 21 doesn’t just undermine Alaska’s competitiveness by dis-incentivizing oil exploration. By leading to huge budget deficits, it threatens our public secondary and higher education system, which is essential for Alaska’s economic prosperity.

In public testimony and rallies, Alaskans overwhelmingly opposed SB 21. Now many are organizing a referendum to repeal SB 21. If you want to join this effort, fill out this form. Note that this group is non-partisan, and is not a part of the Alaska Democratic Party, though we support their efforts.

Despite passage of SB 21, advocates for Alaska won some important battles during this legislative session. Consider the legislation which is not law:
· HB 77, which would have taken away Alaskans’ water rights and ability to defend property rights in court.
· SB 49, which would have allowed politicians—not doctors—to decide what is a “medically necessary” abortion
· HB 23, which would have exposed Alaska taxpayers to $1.14 billion of risk for the Knik Arm Crossing boondoggle.
· SB 55, which would have raised Alaskans’ insurance rates based on credit scores.

All of these bills would have become law if Alaska Democrats like you had not fought tooth and nail to defeat them. By fighting these bills, you defended our state Constitution and our resources, civil rights, and traditional values.

Thank you to everyone who called your legislator this session. Thank you to everyone who wrote a Letter to the Editor, guest op-ed, or used Facebook and Twitter to defend our values. While we did not prevail on oil taxes, we defeated other legislation which had the support of Republicans and high-powered lobbyists. That is a testament to your hard work.

Mike Wenstrup
Chair, Alaska Democratic Party



9 Responses to “The Legislative Session – A Review”
  1. Disgusted says:

    Is anyone else disgusted that Chris Tuck is dating the party planner?? He’s old enough to be her father!! And I thought she was hard core republican and hated democrats??

  2. strangelet says:

    A couple of years ago, I remarked that maybe the US had made mistake in elevating Alaska from territory status. I don’t remember what event occasioned my remark, but I got several replies, from commenters I respected, that convinced me that I was out of synch with the mainstream of the blog, so I went away.

    A couple of months ago, I linked to a Mudflats article that made me think I should pay attention again, because Jeanne is a really good writer. Subsequently, I discover you also have Linda and Shannyn, so bonanza.

    And now, I am reminded that that the legislature is still so screwed up that it cannot even hold onto the neck of the goddam golden goose.

    How in the hell can you (Alaskans, not readers of the Flats) elect to your state senate people who are EMPLOYEES of the main corporate entity your state government has to negotiate with? Sorry, but this reactivates my feeling that you are, collectively, crazy.

    I believe I’ll go back to occasional passive observation. Good luck.

  3. mike from iowa says:

    Rethuglicans just can’t stand prosperity…..except for the wealthiest few. When the lege is in session you need re-usable barf bags.

  4. Moose Pucky says:

    It was worse, and may get even worser.

  5. John says:

    While other states looked jealously at Alaska’s budget surplus, our leaders have been working hard to eliminate it. Now that other states are beginning to climb out of this depression, Alaska can look forward to its own economic crisis. Congratulations to all who voted for the giveaway. No longer will Alaska stand alone in weathering the depression. We too can suffer huge cuts to education, law enforcement, and road maintenance. We can have our own furloughs, and work stoppages as the government runs out of money. And we don’t have to blame banks, or the housing industry, or faceless corporate entities for our pain. There are less than 50 people personally responsible for our pain. We know exactly who they are, and we know most will be running for re-election in about 18 months. It is not to soon to setting money aside to contribute to their opponents. A dollar a week in the cookie jar between now and August of 2014. If we each do that, we can make a huge difference.

  6. GoI3ig says:

    Tonight KTUU reported on the legislature by running a clip of “gaval to gaval.” I thought what an appropriate way to sum up a misguided session with a misspelled word times two.

    The sad part is by the time we get to say “I told you so,” many of these misfits will have moved on. Some will migrate to the oil companies whom they just handed a windfall.

    Anyone remember Senate President Hanley? Sen President Pierce? How about Scott Ogan? All feathered the oil and gas companies nests, and then were given lucrative jobs after politics. I believe Ogan got called out on how being a cabinet maker made him a natural gas expert.

    I have to hand it to the big three. Just six years after one of the bigger scandals in Alaska history, they went back to the drawing board, inserted a few more moles, and stuck it to Alaska in the light of day rather than a smoke filled suite at the Baranof Hotel.

  7. AKjah says:

    Does this mean now they will give us a pony.

  8. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    So you Alaskans won several of the battles but lost the big one, the oil giants once again are miliking your for a fe billion dollars. Chump change really when the banks, hedge funds, corporatiions and the one percent are milking the whole country of 80% of its wealth.

    The reason this is happening to you is that you are not paying attention.

    Untill you do, it will only get worse.

    Let us all know how that oil companyh government thing workins out, they are trying pretty hard to pimpose it on use as well.

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