Leg with Louie: Bring Back the Legislative Softball League – May 14

Let's drop the pretense that the state legislature will ever get business done in 90 days. The idea was questionable to begin with. Concocted by business-owner legislators who wanted the legislature to run with more efficiency so they could dispatch with budgets and get back home to their burger joints, hotels, fishing operations etc. An admirable goal in the abstract, it rode to reality through a citizens initiative in large part due to the populist appeal of a punitive check for the messy and sprawling legislature.

120 days is the low-end standard of what it takes for a group of elected humans to organize, argue, and grapple with big issues in Alaska. Empirical evidence says so. The legislature now regularly ignores this deadline as the statute competes with the constitutional language authorizing 120 days, and the constitution wins. Every session of the legislature fancies itself as superlative: craziest, longest, most likely to succeed etc., and every session seems exceptional...except no session seems to be able to contain itself to a mere 90 days.

One casualty of the 90-day session law was the Legislative Softball League. In the days when you traveled to Juneau expecting to stay until early June, staff and legislators could formalize a league. After the 90-day law, all play became ad hoc.

It is too bad that a sensationalist hit and run artist like Must Read Alaska was not on the scene back in the old statutory “120-day” days, as she would have had a fun time reporting on the Legislative Softball League. There was copious beer, rivers of it! There were broken bones! Hot dogs left unattended and eaten by ravens! Probably beer cans left on the field! Democrats and Republicans deigned to don the same team caps and play ball against other Democrats and Republicans. Bats and balls and kegs and clapping and shouting and rooting on of runners and razzing of pitchers etc: a fine hootenanny out in the spring air of Southeast Alaska.

This spring, the 32nd State Legislature could go well beyond 120 days in Juneau should a disagreement with the Governor over budget items, federal funding or PFDs escalate into a brawl. If it weren’t for the 90-day session law, the poor staffers would be fine with their extended stay (just dandy!) as they could be focused on the game of softball in their off-time. Because the limit has destroyed a noble bi-partisan stress-releasing tradition, I am in favor of repealing the 90-day session limit. I am in favor of legislation brought forth by the Honorable Senator Gary Stevens to repeal said limit. The bill is SB 126 and it was heard and held in Senate State Affairs on May 4th, which incidentally, is 16 days after the 90-day statute tried modestly to compel legislators to wrap things up.

Thanks for your patience with my rant,


P.S. From our friends at AKPIRG and Native Movement - please see information here about a recently released Emergency Broadband Benefit which provides eligible households with a discount of $50 per month toward Broadband service >>

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