Yesterday afternoon, Alaska State Senate President Gary Stevens (R), of Kodiak, announced there will be what he hopes to be a one-day Special Session of the Alaska Legislature in Anchorage, on August 10th. He stated it will be devoted to two issues
1). Voting to override soon-to-be-former Gov. Sarah Palin's rejection of some $29 million in Federal stimulus package funds designed to save energy in Alaska homes.
2.) Consider confirming Lt. Gen. Craig Campbell to replace Corrections Commissioner Joe Schmidt as Alaska's Lt. Governor.
How Stevens feels all this can be done in one day beats me. Since July 4th, I've spoken with current and former legislators about a possible special session to handle succession and stimulus funds. None felt that a multi-issue special session is possible in anything less than three days.
My opinion is that if they do go to the expense (thanks, Sarah), they should first listen to last Friday's Alaska Public Radio Network interview with now-Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, on what he intends to do, should the funds be voted for.
Parnell is quoted by APRN's Lori Townsend as stating "he prefers lawmakers consider options to the Federal offer of $28 million. He says he agrees with Gov. Palin's stance against accepting the money, and he doesn't understand why the legislature is willing to put Alaska 'under the thumb' of the Federal Government:
"[Parnell] While legislators may be less concerned about that, I am, uh, I am concerned that local communities not have the opportunity to set their own building energy codes. This thing that, uh, thing that, uh, you know, many areas of our state are currently comply, and thinking that that's grounds to make every area of the state comply into the future, even when the building energy code changes, uh, nationally and internationally, not set here in our state, I think that's, I think that's short-sighted to get out of [unintelligible]..."
Townsend goes on in her report to state, "If legislators decide to vote to override the veto, Parnell will have the authority to continue to act on his belief, as Governor, he will be able to refuse to spend the money, even with legislative direction, and will not necessarily order the paperwork to receive the Federal funds. Those actions are outside of the legislature's control."
In Townsend's report, Parnell goes on to suggest the legislature "make its own appropriation of $28 million in State money, avoiding any risk of Federal involvement. However, that subject has not come up in any talks with members."
Any special session that fails to take into account how Parnell has clearly announced he will deal with this, will be a total waste of time and money. Any session that does deal with this, will be no one-day wonder.
Another thought on the costs of a Special Session. Should we apply the Palin administration's own AP-Steiner-Murrow Rule to the overall expense impact, it won't cost $100,000.00 or so. It will cost tens of millions, due to the ripple-like effects that keep so many people from doing other important work, like building bridges or schools or whatever.
(APRN transcription by Progressive Alaska)