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October 24, 2021

Headlines:

Gov. holds education funding hostage

TALL TALES from Juneau Eyes on the Dunleavy/Babcock administration The Final Battle CONVENIENTLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL This week the discussion in the Capitol focused a lot on education and its funding. The first thing to know is that the Alaska Constitution requires adequate funding for education. It’s pretty cut and dried. That’s the backdrop. The conflict comes because – remember how the governor and his people were all fired up about slashing public education funding this year? His first budget called for hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts. But what they hadn’t counted on is that education had already been forward-funded…

Court Delivers Double-Whammy Over Pebble

Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court issued two decisions that will have far-reaching impacts about how the Department of Natural Resources conducts business in hard rock mineral exploration, and the ability of the State and others to chill opposition. While the two cases involved the Pebble Prospect exploration, neither will impact the development of that mine. Background In 1988, Teck Cominco drilled the first exploration wells in what would become the 360 square-mile Pebble Prospect. By 2010, ownership of the Pebble claims would change hands from Teck Cominco to Northern Dynasty Minerals to the Pebble Limited Partnership. Collectively, those entities would…

Court Sees Value in Protecting Bristol Bay

Before the Bristol Bay Forever Initiative was ever printed on statewide ballots, it had to defend a legal challenge from an individual named Richard Hughes, the Alaska Miners Association, and the Council of Alaska Producers. The Alaska Supreme Court issued an oral decision allowing that initiative to go to the ballot. Today, the Court issued a written order justifying its decision, Hughes v. Treadwell, Slip Op. No. 6981 (Alaska Supreme Court, Jan. 30, 2015). In order for a citizen ballot initiative to be valid in Alaska, it must avoid certain prohibited topics.  Under Article XI, section 7, it may not engage in an appropriation…

GOP Tries to Stack the Courts

When you can’t win, change the rules. I’ve wondered why our legislators have spent the better part of their time on bills likely to struck down as unconstitutional. They are trying to rewrite our constitution to hand public money to schools, deny women reproductive justice and deny citizens the right to weigh in on resource development. Lawmakers will vote on bills that they know will end up in court. That takes money that they don’t have to pay for on either side. Maybe we need an amendment that requires those who vote for bills deemed unconstitutional have to pay the…

AK Wants Equality. Bigots Want Cash.

Bigots don’t like being called bigots, and they’re not pleased with the idea of equality if it applies to people who are different than them. But if you open your wallets, the world might still be saved. On Monday, Alaska Senate Minority leader Hollis French (D-Anchorage) introduced a resolution that would eliminate Alaska’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. As a straight, married man who already enjoys those legal benefits, he could have sat this one out, but to his credit he made the decision to support those who only wish to enjoy the rights he does. “I believe that we…

No Gov’t Handouts for Private Schools

Today in Juneau, hundreds of  concerned parents, students and community members assembled on the steps of the Capitol building to support an increase in school funding (by raising the Base Student Allocation) and to oppose government handouts to private and religious schools. “We just cannot divert public money to private schools. It’s simply a bad idea,” said Dave Noon, a parent of a public elementary school student and a history professor. “As you look through history, there is no roster of heroes who opposed public education.” “Constitutional Conservatives” who usually advocate for the Constitution as an unassailable, and unchanging document,…

ACLU Investigates Censorship in Juneau

Last week, on two consecutive days, an assortment of government vans from at least two different entities, parked in front of the Capitol building in Juneau, blocking protesters who had come with signs to demonstrate. The protesters had been clearly visible from certain offices in the Capitol. Joe Miller’s blog describes the situation as reported by en eyewitness: “The trucks were parked across the street from the capital building, in the “active loading and unloading zone” and in the road congesting traffic, obviously in answer to a command to block the protesters. There were witnesses at the protest who heard…

HB69: A National Disgrace

The most controversial bill in recent Alaska history – and beyond – might be this session’s House Bill 69, sponsored by Speaker Mike Chenault. This House legislation was advertised as a declaration of state sovereignty as it related to owning firearms in Alaska. But that was more of a side note to the actual threat the language of the bill presents. HB69 includes provocative language stipulating that state authorities could, should the bill pass, arrest federal agents who attempted to enforce federal law regarding gun regulations. For instance, if Washington DC passed a law tomorrow stating that high capacity ammo clips are…

Government Funding for Mat-Su Madrassa?

That’s what the Christian Conservatives are pushing for this legislative session, even if they’re too obtuse to know it. Chalk up another one to the Constitutionalists of Convenience – you know, conservatives who squawk and flap about libruls and leftists who want to “shred the Constitution,” and then turn around and fire up the shredding machine for the very document they purport to love. The fair-weather founding father fans now have their sights on one of the hallmarks of the Alaska Constitution – public education. The Alaska Constitution specifically prohibits using public money to fund religious schools. It’s quite clear….

Alaska Readies for Voter Photo ID Bill

Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, the chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, reportedly plans to introduce a voter photo ID requirement in the Alaska Legislature. He says this photo ID law isn’t based on the so-called “model statute” developed by the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council, a national organization that promotes conservative model legislation. Even though Lynn is a member of ALEC. In  state where village residents, who famously vote Democratic, don’t have or need a photo ID, this law will provoke a lawsuit before the ink is dry on Captain Zero’s signature. It’s all about equal protection. If you have a photo…