For the many legislators who would like to be elected as Speaker of the House, I have a dream and I would like to know if you share it.
I have a dream that when legislators tell the public that we will be holding a voting session on a particular day and time that we will hold session on that day and time. I know this may seem somewhat trite to the 20 new legislators who arrived in Juneau over the past week, but political expediency can be a powerful motive, and will gladly run roughshod over custom, law and even a constitution if left unchecked.
I have a dream that when legislators vote to adjourn until Monday at 10am, for example, that they (or at least some number of them) will return on Monday at 10am for the sake of the public who has been told to tune in at 10am, if for no one else. When the public, not to mention staff and legislators themselves, no longer know whether legislators will honor a vote taken, something important is lost.
I have a dream that, for the sake of transparency, all floor sessions of the Alaska House of Representatives will be publicly announced in advance. No more late night sessions where the only legislators notified are the two who will be making the motions and the staff from the Clerk’s Office.
I have a dream that when legislators change their mind on when they would like to meet, they (or at least some of them) at least take the time to show up at the appointed time and vote to adjourn to a better time.
I have a dream that when legislators vote to recess that they announce a time at which they will reconvene so that the public, and other legislators, are not kept in the dark about when they can watch their representatives casting votes on their behalf.
I have a dream that when the legislature’s own rules say that they won’t hold a voting session on Sunday without first voting to do so, that they won’t hold a voting session on Sunday without first voting to do so.
I have a dream that when the constitution says that legislators will not recess “for longer than three days” that legislators will not recess for longer than three days. I know, it sounds trite. An attorney suggested that “not longer than three days” should be interpreted as anything less than five. Instead of revisiting what the word “is” is, my dream is that we would do our utmost to stick to the same English meaning of words that the public uses rather than sacrificing the meaning of words to political expediency.
If you would like to be elected Speaker of the House, I would like to know if this is the type of leadership you will be providing as Speaker. Will a vote for you be a vote to make this dream a reality for the 33rd Alaska Legislature, or do I need to look elsewhere for that?