Today marks 100 days since the November election.
In Washington DC, a majority of Democrats were elected, and so we watched the peaceful transfer of power last month from Republicans to Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In Alaska, a majority of Republicans were elected, and we rightly anticipated the same transfer of power, from Democrats to Republicans, in the Alaska State House. And we waited. And we waited. It has now been 100 days, and there has been no transfer of power. Rather than attend required meetings of the House each day, Democrats have on several occasions simply refused to attend, thus preventing the legislators who did attend from obtaining a quorum.
Meanwhile, unable to move forward, the State House has continued to incur expenses (to date more than $1.7 Million) for the legislative session that has never started, but that has already consumed more than one-third of the 90 Day session.
Today—Day 100—I have every reason to believe that some in the Alaska House of Representatives will prioritize political power over fulfilling the will of the people in the last election.
It has been proposed this week that the transfer of power could be accomplished symbolically by the Democrat who has been serving as the Speaker of the House for the last two years switching his voter registration to “Undeclared” and continuing to wield power for another two years as a undeclared Democrat.
Somehow, I don’t think that’s what the voters had in mind when they elected a new Republican majority in November.
This is the same Democrat leadership that has been refusing to allow meetings of the House to take place at various times over the last 30 days.
Nevertheless, out of a desire to come against the very policies that Governor Dunleavy campaigned on; repeal of SB91, protection of the PFD, and bringing state spending in line with revenue, some Republican legislators will vote to elect a Democrat to be Speaker of the House today.
Just as important, there will be other Republican legislators, just as committed to opposing the governor, who will wait until they know the Democrat has received enough votes be elected Speaker of the House, before publicly casting their vote against him.
The thinking goes, why cast an unpopular vote when the Democrat already has enough votes to win?
And so the Democrat will win, likely with just enough votes, and a number of his supporters on the Republican side of the aisle will be glad for the opportunity to publicly vote against him. This is the swamp that is Juneau.
If you were hoping for an easy way to identify whether your legislator is for you or against you from looking at a single vote today, it may not be so easy.
In most cases, you will need to drill down to see where they actually vote on specific policies when their vote actually determines the outcome on a particular issue. If their vote on a particular day doesn’t count in determining a policy outcome, it often doesn’t count in letting you know where they really stand on an issue.
Whoever said that the role of a voter was easy….was selling you something. It isn’t.
And those tucked away in Juneau, far away the voters back home, know this. What is it they say; Nothing good comes easy? It’s certainly true when it comes to discovering information on where your legislators really stand. Some are candid and forthright, but they are a rarity in politics. More likely, you will have to launch an investigation, and one that won’t be over in a day.
But in doing so you won’t be alone.
There are others who are likely just as upset about the failure of those we elect to act on their behalf as you are about the failure of politicians to act on your behalf and on behalf of future generations of Alaskans.
There will be a vote today, an important vote: watch it closely. But don’t stop there. Continue to be a part of the solution. If you’ve been watching the last 100 days, you’ll know that the problems we face are larger than any one of us. We must each do our part to confront the problems we face as a state, as we are able.
How will your legislator vote today? And will that be a vote that matters, or just one for show? I encourage you to take the time to know the difference.
A lot depends on your doing so. And really there is no lasting solution to some of the problems we face today if you do not.
And with that as an introduction, let the voting begin!