Leg with louie: The Condition our Condition is in

Our Governor does not look comfortable standing tall to the scrutiny of our 60 State Legislators. No, he looks short of breath and even nervous. I have met the man and shook his hand, and by gosh, he looks dashing when he smiles. If I were working in his office, I would find a way to employ a smile coach and install this person into a cabinet-level position. Perhaps it is a trait endemic to those who run for office on a platform that government is bad, that once elected they must appear unhappy at all times. This dude should be doing a disco dance move in front of the legislature! He got elected, he cut government, congress and the Trump administration are handing down victories large and small to Alaska’s extractive industry – and his Boy in the White House can do anything at all with impunity from a self-debasing U.S. Senate. Yes, our governor should use the State of the State address as a platform from which to spread a gospel of conservative optimism!

One expects the expected with these speeches – the droning on about resources and the importance of Timber, Mining, Fishing, and our victories against federal Bureaucracies. There is a State of the State bingo sheet they play down at one local watering hole during this annual address (fact!)…I am not sure if “Resource State,” “Burdensome Regulation” “Our most important Resource – Alaska’s children” are on the sheet, but they should be.  

A somewhat poignant moment was what sounded like a mea culpa for the Arduin budget of last year: “Last year’s budget was a shock to many Alaskans… The budget was not crafted with the intent to hurt Alaskans. But pulling back the reins on spending certainly caused many Alaskans discomfort – I recognize that. I didn’t run for Governor to hurt the State that I love, and the people I care about. No governor wishes to do that. But with that said, we still have a significant fiscal issue that needs to be addressed for the long term.” Basically: oops, and a half-hearted sorry.

Another shout-out that caught some off guard was this statement: “Inexpensive energy, especially electricity, will be the basis that drives the future economy. If Alaska does it right, we have an opportunity to lead this nation in cheap energy. In 2010, a law was passed by the legislature, mandating Alaska produce 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2025. We are running out of time. Whether it’s tidal, hydro, solar, biomass, wind, or geothermal, we have more potential to deploy renewable energy than anywhere else on the planet, and we have an obligation to make every possible effort to reach this 50% goal by 2025.”

From an administration hell-bent for leather on oil gas and mining, and to whom Climate Change is a big no-no topic, the very mention of our State’s aspirational clean energy goals seemed pleasantly odd. We should take this statement with some caution – as the specter of the Susitna Dam looms up in the verbiage – but we should not disregard it. Indeed, this Administration ought to be commended for the statement, and encouraged to think of it as not just words for the sake of words, but words that lead to policy and budget action.  

As The Alaska Center continues to advocate at all levels for a Just Transition from an extractive to a regenerative economy, meeting our State’s clean energy goals should be seen as an imperative and a launching pad for innovation and bold climate solutions.  

Overall, the State of the State address is a way for a governor to encapsulate where the Administration is and where it would like to go. It lays open a blueprint and asks the legislature and the citizenry to take a gander. Without the support of the legislature, the actual building of the thing falters terribly. One wonders if the Dunleavy Administration is taking heed of its experience last year where a large chunk of its policy agenda fell to pieces due to disagreements with the legislature. Likely it is. Given the scope of the climate emergency before us, we should hope that the Administration is serious about working with the legislature on clean energy policy this session.  

Freed from the confining gloom of his State of the State duties, the Governor is hitting the road to talk to people about stuff. He will be in Petersburg, AK – Monday, February 3, 2020, 6-8 pm – Town Hall at Petersburg High School Gymnasium Wrangell, AK – Tuesday, February 4, 2020, 5-7 pm – Town Hall at James and Elsie Nolan Civic Center. Other locations and dates will be forthcoming. It would be wise to remind him about what he said about clean energy in his State of the State address and request that he follow it up with policy action.  

Let’s get to work!

Hearings to watch

Senate Finance Committee
Monday, February 3, 9:00 a.m.
SB 115 MOTOR FUEL TAX 
— Public Testimony —

House Resources Committee
Monday, February 3, 1:00 p.m.
HR 12 HOUSE SPEC. COMMITTEE ON CLIMATE CHANGE
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —

Senate Railbelt Electric System Special Committee
Monday, February 3, 3:30 p.m.
SB 123 ELECTRIC RELIABILITY ORGANIZATIONS
— Public Testimony —

House Fish and Game Finance SubCommittee
Tuesday, February 4, 10:00 a.m.
Habitat & Subsistence Research Sections
Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission
Div. of Sport Fisheries
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —

House Environmental Conservation Finance SubCommittee
Tuesday, February 4, 11:15 a.m. 
Div. of Spill Prevention & Response
Div. of Water
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —

Senate Community and Regional Affairs
Tuesday, February 4, 3:30 p.m

SB 121 NATIVE ORGANIZATIONS VPSO & TANF PROGRAMS
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —

Presentation: Census 2020 Update by:
– Laurie Wolf, Foraker Group
– Berett Wilbur, Alaska Census Working
Group/Alaska Counts
– Korena Novy, Assistant Regional Census
Manager, US Census Bureau

House Finance Committee
Wednesday, February 5th, 1:30 p.m. 
An Act making supplemental appropriations, capital appropriations, and other appropriations; making reappropriations; amending appropriations; repealing appropriations; and providing for an effective date
<Pending Introduction & Referral>

FY 20 Supplemental Budget Overview by Neil
Steininger, Director, Office of Management &
Budget, Office of the Governor

Senate Resources Committee
Wednesday, February 5th 3:30 p.m. 
SB 155 EXPLORATION & MINING RIGHTS; ANNUAL LABOR
— Public Testimony —
HB 122 FUNTER BAY MARINE PARK: UNANGAN CEMETERY
— Public Testimony —

House Fisheries Special Committee
Thursday, February 6th 11:00 a.m.
— Please Note Time Change —
HB 185 REGISTRATION OF BOATS: EXEMPTION
— Public Testimony <Time Limit 2 Minutes> —
HB 218 SALT WATER FISHING: OPERATORS/GUIDES
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —

Senate Railbelt Electric System Special Committee 
Thursday, February 6th, 1:30 p.m. 
SB 123 ELECTRIC RELIABILITY ORGANIZATIONS
— Public Testimony —

House Resources Committee
Friday February 7th 1:00 p.m. 
HB 197 EXTEND SEISMIC HAZARDS SAFETY COMMISSION
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —
HB 230 INTENSIVE MGMT SURCHARGE/REPEAL TERM DATE
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —

Presentation: Land Ownership in Alaska by Mike Sfraga, Dir. of the Wilson Center’s Global
Risk and Resilience Program and Polar Institute

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