Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn

Blog site of Representative Bob Lynn, Alaska House of Representatives,District 31 Anchorage, Alaska. Blogs consist of public comments during legislative sessions, speeches, political commentary, as well as personal observations, and some journal type entries. Comments are invited.

Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Member of the Alaska State House of Represeentatives since 2003. US Air Force, Retired; military bandsman; F94C interceptor pilot; Vietnam service as radar controller (Monkey Mountain), radar site commander(Pleiku); Government Contract Management; Public school Teacher, Retired. Married 55 years to Marlene Wagner Lynn, 6 children, 20 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. Member St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church. Former Tucson Arizona policeman, Ambulance Driver and Mortician's Assistant, Realtor (currently on referral status).

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Voting "NO" to Doing "Nothing": May 20, 2004

I VOTED “NO” to doing nothing about our fiscal situation

On April 26th, HJR26 (POMV) passed the house 27 “YES” to 13 “NO.” I voted “YES” (thereby saying “No” to doing nothing). As a proposed amendment to the Alaska Constitutional amendment, 27 votes (2/3rd) were required for passage.

On May 7th, HJR 26 failed in the Senate by a vote of 5 “YES” to 15 “NO.” As a result of the Senate action (or more properly “inaction”), there was no resolution to Alaska’s long-term fiscal situation. Please don’t shoot the messenger!

The following is the speech I made on the House floor about the POMV vote:
“MR. SPEAKER: I’m in frequent contact with my constituents, and they’re concerned about what we’ve been doing down here - or more accurately, perhaps, what we’re not doing down here. Let me tell you they say, “Just say NO – Just say NO to doing NOTHING!” They tell me we have proposals for an income tax, a sales tax, a POMV thing, a head tax, and I don’t know what else. My constituents tell me we need to “pick our poison” and “get on with it.” OK, I get the message. The POMV split before us has a chance of addressing the budget shortfall, but only if we take action. I’m just a lowly freshman, but I have the feeling that our constituents are more likely to kick us out of office if we do nothing, rather than something. In the military we used to say, “No Guts, No Glory” – and maybe that applies here.

Whatever, the POMV split can help resolve at least some of our fiscal problems – and that’s a good thing, a very good thing. But I call it the “Pontius Pilate Solution” - in other words, we put the POMV up to the voters, and then we wash our hands of it, and blame the voters for whatever they do when they vote in November. And I’m here to tell you that I wouldn’t bet my housecat that the voters will approve the POMV – regardless of its merits – and if it doesn’t pass in November some of us will be back here next January – and we STILL will not have addressed the budget shortfall – and if we think constituents are angry now about our inaction, wait until then. It’s just plain not smart to put our eggs – the future of Alaska – all in one basket.

Here’s something to consider: Perhaps we should consider structuring the POMV vote in November so that if the POMV solution fails, then a reasonable sales tax is in place that’s contingent upon the failure of the POMV plan at the poll. If we don’t get one sensible way to raise revenue, we’ll get the other, and we’ll have done our job. The back up sales tax plan would give the voters more than one choice.”

If there is anyone here who believes voters deserve more than one option in November, and that that option should be a sales tax if the POMV fails in November, let me know, and we can work together – Republicans and Democrats - to draft an appropriate amendment.

Whatever, this 23rd Legislature has an historic opportunity to help set the foundation for the stable and predictable economy we so desperately need, and that foundation will help bring about the resource development we need and want.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I Knew the Risk When I joined Up: May 2004


“I knew the risk when I joined up.” It’s a time honored military adage. I said that to my colleagues overseas when I served in Vietnam, and I’ve repeated the same adage to my colleagues in the State House during my service in the legislative “war zone.” It’s apropos to both. In Vietnam, however, I did enjoy the benefit of a helmet and flak vest.

When any candidate makes a campaign promise, there’s a risk the promise may be difficult to keep. My vote to keep my promise to do my best to protect the longevity bonus comes to mind. It wasn’t easy. If campaign promises were easy to keep, everyone would do it.

Addressing fiscal reality is also risky. There’s scant middle ground on the subject. When I communicate with constituents, many say, “There’s proposals for the POMV, sales tax, income tax, tobacco tax, cruise ship tax, employment tax, and more. For “crying out loud,” pick your poison and do SOMETHING!!. That’s what we elected you for.”

So I did do something. I voted a politically risky “Yes” on HJR 26, which would have permitted voters to decide, during the 2004 general election, if the “percent of market value” (POMV) as a means to fund state government. HJR 26 passed the House 27 “Yes” 13 “No.” Unfortunately the Senate failed to pass the POMV measure—5 “Yes” 15 “No.” Politically, the failure of the Senate to pass the POMV proposal caused the brave souls who cast a “yes” vote in the House to “fell on our swords” with risk without gain. Like I said, I knew the risk when I joined up!

The most political recent risk involved my opposition to SB 311, which would replace the equal number of labor and management representatives on the current Workers Compensation Board, with attorneys appointed by the governor. This could have the potential of making the attorneys and any of their decisions subject to political pressure to the detriment of injured workers. I joined with fellow Republican Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom of Eagle River in a vote that kept the bill in the Labor and Commerce Committee.

I think workers compensation law needs review, but nothing should work to the potential detriment of injured workers. The legislature is a separate branch of the government, and we were not elected to be “rubber stamps” for the administration. As the Good Book says, “Come let us reason together.”

I expect the issue of “closed caucuses” versus “open meetings” will “take wings” between now and the election. My motto is, “If in doubt, disclose” - that’s why I support open meetings.

Not everyone agrees in the legislature (that’s why we elect 60 members, not 1), and even the most popular legislator will never receive 100% of the vote.

I knew the risk when I joined up - and I’ll accept political risk necessary to represent constituents - regardless of slings, and arrows, and - occasionally – even a few roses tossed my way. So there!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

When Horrific Choices are Required May 2004

This is the floor speech I delivered in response to Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch's HB25 "5 Wishes" bill on end of life care. It explains why I voted against the bill.

Mr. Speaker:

Before I say another word, I here to tell you how much I appreciate the sponsor of this bill, the representative from Juneau – the tall one! He has worked very hard on this bill, both in this body, and in the other body. I’m pleased to tell you that HB 25 is much improved from the version I looked at last session. Many of the concerns I had previously have been addressed – and I want to thank the sponsor for listening and acting.

Mr. Speaker, this bill addresses subjects that are uncomfortable to all of us. If they were not uncomfortable, we wouldn’t be normal. I’ve personally suffered the pain of seeing my mother come down with cancer as the result of smoking. She had to suffer a larynxtomy – the removal of her voice box - so that she had to breathe through a hole in her neck, and when she cried, her cries were silent. Eventually she lapsed into a coma, and during that coma she received intravenous food and hydration and, of course, she eventually died, and I was at her bedside when her last faint pulse stopped – and then, and only then, we removed the tubes that delivered the comfort of food and water. Many of us, especially people my age, have been through that kind of personal experience. I don’t recommend the experience. But most of us will experience it, at one time or another, or our spouse will experience it.

When those horrific experiences occur, if we have any humanity at all, we question our core beliefs, we question our ethics, our morality, our education, our religion, our common sense, we question everything, and all those questions battle each other for an answer. If we’re normal, we suffer very mixed emotions. We want to be true to our loved one, and be also true to right and wrong, as God gives us the ability to determine such things.

This bill, HB 25, attempts to guide us through these horrific end-of-life decisions. As I said previously on some other bill, we don’t make perfect law here, because we’re not perfect. The Perfect Lawmaker isn’t a member of this body – but of course, many of us do believe there is in fact, a Perfect Lawmaker. But He’s “up there,” not “down here.” This bill is the result of an honest and sincere attempt, by an honest and sincere representative, to craft a – “quote” – “good” bill. And much of the bill is, in fact, good. And I thank the sponsor for that.

I wish I could vote for HB25, but I can not - because I can not, personally, within my belief system, condone removing nutrition and hydration from a dying person, or inflict $10,000 in civil damages to someone who refuses to stop providing food and water.

We cast some tough votes down here. Good people, for whatever reason, can understand things differently, and reasonable people know that. That’s why there are forty of us elected to this chamber, not just one. I have to vote where my conscience is, and I’ll be voting no.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Casino Bill: May 1, 2004

A bill to permit a casino at the deserted fish proscesing plant on Rasberry Road came to the House floor for a vote. The following is my floor speech
Mr. Speaker:

This bill addresses a very very important policy issue. There are huge divisions of opinions on the issue of casino gambling for Alaska. I personally don’t feel I have all the information needed to make a truly informed decision to push either the red or green button. I think others in this body feel the same way.

If there ever was an issue that deserves a thorough analysis in committee, it is the casino issue. We’ve had committee hearings on rat racing, committee hearings on whether ski operators should be able to give tickets to skiers, and committee hearings on name various weeks of the year to honor various issues and viewpoints. This casino bill certainly deserves no less.

Regardless of which side of the casino issue you may think you’re on at this point, this is a major, major policy issue for Alaska, whether we vote for or against casinos.

With those thoughts in mind, I hereby make a motion, to refer the bill to the House Labor and Finance Committee. based on Rules of Procedure: and Mason’s Manual: and respectfully ask for a vote of the body on the motion.
The Speaker called an "At ease." After controversy, the House came back to order, and the amendment failed. The Casino bill passed, but never made it into law.

Free Web Site Counter
Free Counter