The 11th time may be charm
You can almost feel the angst emanating from Juneau in the wake of a proposed ballot measure being certified that, if approved by voters, would move sessions of the Alaska Legislature to Anchorage.
Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer and the Department of Law cleared the way Wednesday for Equal Access Alaska to begin gathering the 28,501 signatures it will need to get the question on the ballot in 2020.
If the measure reaches the ballot and is approved by voters, it likely would cause a sea change in Alaska politics as more Alaskans finally would have access to lawmakers and the Legislature while the legislative session is underway.
You can be sure Juneau, as always when the question of moving the capital or Legislature comes up, will fight tooth and nail to keep the Legislature meeting in that Southeast city.
The battle over where the state’s capital or its Legislature should call home has gone on for decades. Were this effort to reach the ballot, it would mark the 11th time since statehood in 1959 that Alaskans have tangled at the ballot box over questions having to do with where the capital or the Legislature should be located.
The one successful vote to move the capital to Willow was in 1974, but after some creative cost assessments from move opponents, the idea eventually was rejected. The last vote – to move the Legislature to the Mat-Su Borough — failed in 2002.
In our view, the Legislature of any state should be easily accessible by residents so they can watch their government in action and have access to its workings and their representatives.
In Alaska, only those who can afford to travel to Juneau have that option and having an isolated legislative session has lawmakers working in a vacuum, surrounding only be special interests, often to the detriment of the state.
It is well beyond time to move the Legislature. Hopefully, the 11th time to the ballot box will put Alaska’s Legislature within reach of average Alaskans.