Leg With Louie: Obituary for House Resolution 12

The short, happy life of HR 12 ended this week. HR 12 was born last spring and died this winter, and we won’t spend long mourning it, but we will mark its passing with a few brief words:

HR 12 was a house resolution that sought to establish a House Special Committee on Climate Change. At the time of its death, there were plans to re-name it a House Special Committee on Climate Policy.

From a young age, it flew under the radar. It was introduced late in the contentious session of 2019 and grew up in relative obscurity through the summer of 2019 as the legislature battled itself over the disastrous FY 20 budget, as salmon died by the hundreds of thousands due to hot river conditions. Wildfires raged, as CO2 levels continued to rise, and as we endured our hottest summer yet in human record.

HR 12 came of age right around the start of the new decade when Alaskans from every corner of the state, terrified of the actual physical, touchable, smellable, feelable, seeable impacts of our global greenhouse gas pollution emergency came to hear of the resolution and elevated the modest HR 12 to center stage. We Alaskans, The Alaska Center, and our Allies came to regard HR 12 for what it was. It was good because it was an effort, it was something, it provided a small flashlight in the dark. HR 12 was viewed favorably because it was a sign that elected leaders are serious about developing serious big policies to help solve a serious problem. HR 12 would have created a safe space for this policy to develop. A safe house.

It is hard to tell how HR 12 died, but it did die, because if it were alive, it would be moving — moving from House Resources, to the House Floor for a vote. It is not moving, so it is dead. (see note at the bottom)

Let us now not mourn the loss of this fine little House Resolution. As the words on the gravestone of the great poet Richard Hugo say, “believe you and I sing tiny and wise, and could if we had to eat stone and go on.” Let’s go on and not get caught up in our grief. Let’s ask our legislators to do something to make their committees the places that HR 12 sought to establish. Let’s ask them to ask themselves what to do now. And let’s work hard to help them come up with the right answer.

And take heart! HR 12 may be dead, but other committees are not! The House Energy Special Committee and the Senate Railbelt Electric System Special Committee are hearing legislation designed to make the transmission of electricity more efficient along the railbelt and to decrease barriers to grid access by renewable energy generators. The Senate Resources Committee will hear legislation designed to increase geothermal energy production. Senate Community and Regional Affairs currently house SB 175, which would allow municipalities to offer air quality improvement and energy-efficient construction tax credits. The House Rules Committee is where HB 32 is. This legislation would expand access to the Alaska Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan fund. The Finance Committees will soon grapple with the costs of last year’s enormous wildfire season in the form of the supplemental budget (additional costs incurred outside of what was budgeted for last year that must be paid this year). There is climate related work to do in all committees. In lieu of flowers for HR 12, let’s focus now on climate action that can occur in this session.

Down but not out,

Note: under legislative uniform rules, a special committee must be established by resolution of the body, and is only active in the legislature within which it was enacted. For instance, the House Fisheries and House Energy special committees have to be enacted at the start of each legislature, and this happened at the start of the session in 2019 – so HR 12, being voted on during the second session would not have had much time to operate – so the later this session goes, the less utility of forming the special committee.

Hearings to watch

Monday, February 10

1:00 p.m. House Resources
HB 138 NATIONAL RESOURCE WATER DESIGNATION
— Public Testimony —

3:30 p.m. Senate Resources
SB 171 INDUSTRIAL HEMP PROGRAM; MANUFACTURING
— Public Testimony —

SB 161 GEOTHERMAL RESOURCES

— Public Testimony —

Tuesday, February 11

8:00 a.m. House Tribal Affairs Special Committee

Presentation: Alaska Tribal Health Compact by Natasha Singh, Tanana Chiefs Conference

10:00 a.m. House FISH & GAME Finance Subcommittee
Closeout – Budget Action Items & Amendments 
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —

12:00 p.m. MISCELLANEOUS
MEETING

Lunch & Learn: A discussion on how the Alaska Food Coalition works to improve food access in Alaska by Jenny DeGrappa, Cara Durr & additional speakers

3:00 p.m. House State Affairs
HB 74 REPEAL IND. OCEAN POLLUTION MONITORS/FEE
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —

3:30 p.m. Senate Community and Regional Affairs
Presentation: “Susitna-Watana Project & Ambler Road Project” by Tom Boutin, Alaska Industrial Development & Export Authority (AIDEA) & Curtis Thayer, Alaska Energy Authority (AEA)

Wednesday, February 12

9:00 a.m. Senate Finance
Order of Operations – Oil Tax Regime by Dan Stickel, Director of Economic Research Group, Department of Revenue

9:00 a.m. Senate Railbelt Electric System Special Committee
SB 123 ELECTRIC RELIABILITY ORGANIZATIONS
— Public Testimony —

11:00 a.m. Joint Session
State of the Judiciary Address by the Honorable Joel H. Bolger, Chief Justice

12:00 p.m. MISCELLANEOUS MEETING

Lunch & Learn: Alaska Food Policy Council – Innovative Efforts to Reduce Food Waste by: – Suzanne Caldwell, Anchorage Solid Waste Services, Will Discuss Pilot Programs to Reduce the Amount of Organic Material Going into Anchorage Landfills
– Andrew Mergens, Anchorage School District, Will Discuss Pilot Programs to Reduce Waste in
School Lunch Programs, Including the Use of Alaska Grown Food in Anchorage Schools

Thursday, February 13th

8:00 a.m. House Tribal Affairs Special Committee

HB 221 STATE RECOGNITION OF TRIBES
— Public & Invited Testimony –

11:00 a.m. House Fisheries Special Committee
HB 199 FISHERIES REHABILITATION PERMITS
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —

11:15 a.m. House Dept. of Environmental Conservation Finance Subcommittee

Closeout – Amendments & Narrative Report

Friday, February 14

9:00 a.m. Senate Railbelt Electric System Special Committees
SB 123 ELECTRIC RELIABILITY ORGANIZATIONS
— Public Testimony –

1:00 p.m. House Resources
HB 138 NATIONAL RESOURCE WATER DESIGNATION
— Testimony <Invitation Only> —

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