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).

Monday, April 25, 2005

Those Yellow Signs: April 25, 2005

Congratulations to Joe Law for community activism in support of his idea to fund school projects via Senate Bill 155. I have not listened yet to testimony on this bill in committee, so I'll reserve judgement on the bills merits.

Channel 2 KTUU television Anchorage today broadcast a story about printer Joe Law posting yellow signs throughout various Anchorage representatives districts. Joe Law is spending about $4,000, targeting both Republicans and Democrats, by urging motorists to get on the phone and push for passage of Senate Bill 155. Law is urging lawmakers to pay for school projects with the earnings of one of Alaska's most sacred institutions: the Permanent Fund. “We got $40 billion in the Permanent Fund, and we will not touch a penny of it to help the kids.”

According to the TV broadcast, some legislators believe Mr. Law's posting of the signs is "inappropriate," or even "offensive." I disagree. What's wrong with trying to influence legislators to Mr. Law's point of view? Nothing! He's not spending state money, he apparently spending his own personal time and money to advance his viewpoint. Good for him. Politicians too often critizize their constituencies for not getting involved. Let's don't critize them when they do.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Concerns about State Retirement Systems: April 2005

Comments I made as a Member of the House State Affairs Committee on the Senate PERS/STRS SB141 (Public Retirement System/State Teachers Retirement System).
Mr. Chairman:

I have some serious concerns about the speed at which this SB141 bill is moving. We’ve heard hours of testimony from the administration on this bill, but very little until this evening from state working folks, and those that represent them.

I’m concerned about the recruitment and retaining quality state employees. I’m concerned about the possibility of a widow of a police officer left out in the cold. I’m concerned about folks who could outlive their retirement. I’m concerned about increased costs to current employees.

I did have concerns about the composition of the PERS and STRS Boards, because it gave too weight to the administration. We fixed that with my amendment, and I thank the committee for that. I also had concerns that PERS/STRS membership didn’t have a chance to vote on some of the trustees, and I got that fixed with another amendment. Another amendment I supported, stopped any changes to contributions of current PERS/STRS members, and that’s only fair.

The fact is, there needs to be, there must be, a balancing act between PERS/STRS members and the public purse. If the state goes bankrupt, no one gets retirement benefits.

I also have concerns about a “rush to judgment” but, as another Rep. Kelly said, another 5500 state employees will come into he system this next year.

I was sent to the legislature to make tough decisions, and this is one of them. Because, and only because, of the beneficial amendments we passed on the Board composition, and not changing current contributions, I’ll go along with letting this bill out of the State Affairs Committee, but I reserve judgment on any future votes.

Maybe I should reimburse the Governor: April 22, 2005

Commissioner of Labor O'Claray, probabl,y at the behest of Governor Murkowski, mailed 11,000 letters to business owners into my district, and Rep. LeDoux's Kodiak district, and apparently several others, asking constituents to pressure usinto supporting Governor Murkowski's Workers' Compensation bill. The mailing was reported in the Anchorage Daily News, and Anchorage Channel 2 KTUU television. The media questioned the propriety of using state funds to mail such letters to legislative districts to push an administration bill. At this writing, the response to me has been beneficial. I made the following "tongue-in-cheek" Special Order speech to the House of Representatives, to the applause of the legislators.


Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Governor for mailing 11,000 letters to my constituents, and the constituents of the representative from Kodiak, explaining that we want to hear from our districts before voting on important legislation, such as workers comp.

Some people have complained that the mailing of these letters may have been a misuse of state. I almost feel I should reimburse the governor for letting people know that I support legislation to protect business from the outrageous cost of workers comp insurance, and that I support legislation to protect injured workers, and that I want to hear from constituents, on this issue and all other issues. I’m glad he governor agrees with me that workers compensation is an important issue, and it needs to be fixed.

The more legislators hear from constituents, the better we can represent them. The better the communication the better the representation. I would also invite constituents to contact the governor on how best to resolve workers compensation issues, and every other issue.

Thank you, Governor Murkowski.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Representative Elected: April 20, 2005

The following comments were made on the House Floor:
Mr. Speaker,

There are many issues that all of in this body, as elected representatives, struggle with: issules like how best to represent our constituents, issues of ethics, how best to help the most vulnerable among us, how to lead, and how to follow, and much, much more.

Today a new representative has been elected to deal with many of the same issues. He was elected with the words, "Habemus Papem" - Latin for "We have a Pope," a new head of state, as well as the elected representative of millions of faithful around the world, and thousands here in Alaska. His name is Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany, now known to the world as Benedict XVI.

He said in his opening remarks this morning, "The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me.

I think many of us could say that.

Regardless of our individual faiths, I think we can all rejoice in the election of a new world leader, dedicated to the service of humanity.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Priority School Legislation: April 13, 2005

Floor speech ikn support of my bill to require manditory imprisonment for anyone who assaults a school employee
Mr. Speaker: Every year we are urged by parents and teachers, and the conscience of every member of this body, to support our teachers, and to support everybody who works so hard in the schools, to help our kids. Every year, we do our best to find ways help our schools with limited resources, limited money.

Now better salaries are good, and a school building that doesn’t fall down around your ears is very good, and we need smaller class sizes – but all those good things cost money, a lot of money. But the bill we’re hearing today, HB41, is good for our schools, and it doesn’t cost a fortune.

HB41 is good because sets a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for anyone who would assault a school teacher, or any other school employee. It’s good because it sends a message, a strong message, to the community that we’re serious about protecting our schools, and serious about protecting the teachers, who protect our kids.

This bill is priority legislation of the Anchorage School District, the North Star School District in Fairbanks, the Alaska Council of School Administrators, the Alaska Peace Officers Association, the NEA, and many more - including myself as a retired public school teacher, and my wife who is a retired classified school employee.

HB41 is a good bill, and it’s long overdue, and I urge you to vote “yes!” Thank you.

Don't turn Alaska into a "Nanny State:" April 13, 2005

Comments as a Member of the House State Affairs Committee on SB87 that would permit law enforcement to stop a vehicle if the driver isn't wearing a seat belt.

I strongly support wearing seat belts. I want to make sure everybody understands that. Any one who doesn’t wear a seat belt is extremely foolhardy, doesn’t care about their life, or is dangerously rebellious. People in those categories will pay no attention to this law. As far as I’m concerned, not wearing a seat belt is a variety of Russian roulette.

However, and it’s a great big “however,” I cannot support this bill.

Yes, this bill might save some lives. I understand that. But we could also pass a bill to outlaw cars, and airplanes, and knives, and forks, and hammers, and everything else - because that could also save lives.

Yes, we do need appropriate laws – but I don’t want to turn Alaska into a “Nanny State.” We already have seat belt laws. At some point people need to take personal responsibility for their personal actions – and actions do have consequences.

The kindest thing I can say about this bill is that it’s impractical. No cop can drive down the highway and tell if the driver is wearing a seat belt.

Ergo, there’s no probable cause to pull someone over to write a ticket – unless we make everyone put a flashing light on the roof of their car when a belt isn’t worn! Is that going to be the next law? I hope I didn’t give anyone any bad ideas!

What this bill does is to give law enforcement carte blanche opportunity to pull anyone over, at anytime, without probable cause – and that’s very dangerous in a free society.

The fact of the matter is, cops can already find legitimate reasons to pull someone over. I’m an ex-cop. I know that. And I’ve done it. I’ve pulled drivers over for basic traffic violations, driving like a drunk, burnt out license plate lights, whatever. But pulling someone over on the assumption that maybe someone’s not wearing a seat belt – That’s wins my “That’s Incredible Award.”

Once again, I believe in wearing a seat belt, and everyone should wear a seat belt, but unfortunately we can’t legislate common sense. I wish we could.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

"That's Incredible Award" Winner: a:Milk Tax in Alaska:: April 7, 2005, 2005

The following is my testimony before the House Resource Comittee against a "Milk Tax " in Alaska. The resolution successfully passed out of the Committee.
Co-Chair Samuels, Co-Chair Ramras, and Honorable Members of the Resource Committee:

Good afternoon and thank you for hearing HJR 5, a resolution that opposes a milk tax in Alaska.

The proposed tax comes from a “Mandatory Dairy Promotion Assessment imposed on milk producers by Congress in 1983, more than 22 years ago, for the purpose of decreasing milk surpluses, by increasing sales of milk through an aggressive marketing program in the Lower 48. You may have seen some of the “Got Milk?” television commercials. The actual congressional legislation was entitled The Dairy Stabilization Act of 1983. That tax was maintained by the subsequent Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002.

The important thing to know, for the purpose of this resolution, is that Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico were specifically exempted from the Milk Tax, because Alaska, along with Hawaii and Puerto Rico are all “milk deficit jurisdictions.” We certainly don’t have anything close to milk surplus here in Alaska. What we have is a milk deficit. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to tax Alaska milk producers – and indirectly everybody in Alaska, to push the sale of a commodity we have a shortage of. A milk tax would be a serious detriment to Alaska milk producers and consumers, to benefit Lower 48 states in disposing of their milk surplus.

Apparently, part of the push for a milk tax in Alaska comes from the National Milk Federation in the Lower 48, in their effort to have the US Department of Agriculture start taxing foreign milk importers. Under the World Trade Organization rule, WTO rules, foreign milk imports can’t be taxed unless all domestic milk sources are taxed.

This resolution before you has the strong backing of Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Ted Stevens, Congressman Don Young, plus a number of other Congresspersons, as evidenced by their jointly signed letter that should be in your packet.

The “bottom line” is: Alaska doesn’t need a tax on top of the already high price of milk. The price of milk in Bush communities is already outrageous, sometimes 8 dollars a gallon. The cost of milk is outrageous to the point that too many children are drinking sugar laden soft drinks rather than milk, because soft drinks are less expensive. Day care centers all over Alaska can hardly afford cost of milk as it is, without imposing additional costs. Dairy farmers in Alaska are having a tough time making ends meet as it is meet now, without the additional burden of a milk tax. A milk tax in Alaska would qualify for a “That’s Incredible Award,” and I urge you to support this resolution.

I believe we have several experts on line ready to testify on the milk tax issue, and I would refer technical questions to them. Your support of HJR 5 is respectfully requested.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Man of Many Talents: April 4, 2005:

The following is House floor speech I gave in on April 4th memory of John Paul II. I was in a House State Affairs Committee on Saturday April 2nd, when he passed away. My wife Marlene sent me a note.


His father was an Army officer, his mother a school teacher, both parents died when he was young. He grew up under the heel of the Nazis and the Communists. He was a man of diverse talents: Sportsman: mountain climber, skier, soccer goalie, kayaker, Tradesman: stonecutter, worker at a chemical plant. Social worker: Worked at a marriage counseling service, specializing in problems resulting from alcoholism and spousal abuse. Creative personality: poet, actor in an underground theater. He was a “class act.”

His name was Karol Józef Wojtyla, a simple man from Poland known to most people as Pope John Paul II. He passed away Saturday, aftyer suffering from many health problems. At the end, he was nourished by artificial food and hydration.

Wshen John Paul II visited Anchorage in 1981, he delivered a message that is as true today as it was then, when he brougfht words of unity to our unique Alaska culture by saying, ”Here are many people of diverse backgrounds and cultures drawn into one community of faith. Here native Alaskans – Eskimis,Aleuts, Indians, join together with people from all parts of the United States to form one community.”

That was a good lesson from John Paul II for all of us. Alaska has forty llegislative House districts, and forty elected representatives, but together we are one community, one family. When we disagree, we are still family. We are all Alaskans together. Everybody counts.

John Paul will be missed by the entire human community, tregardless of individual faiths and points of view on controversial issues. But we can all rejoice for his leadership by example. He touched the world, and the world is a better place because of his example. .

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Moral Courage: April 2, 2005

It’s helpful to have positive examples of how to live and to work in a complex world. That’s especially true for those of us honored with the trust of representing the people who elect us to public office. The late Pope John Paul II was certainly an inspiration to me, and to many others.

I admired the moral courage of John Paul II. He wasn’t afraid to go against the tide in defense of human values. He understood the individual value of each human being, and was a champion of human dignity and the Culture of Life. He brought moral clarity to a muddled world of relativistic values, and did so with optimism, cheerfulness, confidence, and grace. To me he was a beacon of virtue, strength, and goodness. John Paul II was a “class act.”

Many Alaskans will remember the visit of John Paul II to Anchorage in 1981. During his celebration of Mass on the Delaney Park Strip in Anchorage, he brought words of unity to our unique Alaska culture when he said, “Here many peoples of diverse backgrounds and cultures are drawn into one community of faith. Here Native Alaskans - Eskimos, Aleuts and Indians - join together with people from all parts of the United States to form one community.”

Together we are one Alaska community, and all forty legislative districts, and all forty elected district representatives are part of that one community. We are one family. Everybody counts.

John Paul II will be missed by the entire human community, regardless of individual faiths. We rejoice for his leadership by example. John Paul II truly touched the world and made it a better place because he was one of us.


Bob Lynn

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