CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SPEECH
Best wishes for Merry Christmas, and a Blessed New Year! I hope that traditional Holiday greeting doesn’t get me sued by the ACLU, or arrested for not being “politically correct.” But I like to live dangerously. That’s why I ran for the legislature, and why I’m running for re-election. As we used to say in my military career, I knew the risk when I joined up!
All of us are expecting to have a very busy 2006 session. There’s the possibility of hot and heavy debate on a gas pipeline, most of us have a half a dozen bills we’d like to get passed and, of course, all forty of us in the House, and half the Senate are up for re-election – and everyone’s going to be anxious to come home and campaign, and even hold fundraisers!
Let me start by touching on some of my personal legislation I hope will pass this coming session, and then touch on “you-know-what” – the gas pipeline.
I’ll be working on at least seven personal bills. I’m pre-filing legislation to prevent abuse of imminent domain or, said another way, to prevent judicial thievery of private property. In other words, if somebody in the chamber wants to build a new store in my backyard, and have a friend in government use imminent domain for “economic development” – using my private property for their private profit, I want a state law that says, “It ain’t going to happen.” I understand that both Rep. McGuire and Rep. Holm are also filing bills on the same subject, and that’s good. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the final bill, it only matters that we fix the imminent domain problem the court has pushed down upon us.
I have a bill, HB12, with Rep. Gruenberg that makes it illegal to have a TV in a vehicle that can be seen by the driver. In other words, we don’t want you watching Gavel to Gavel when should be paying attention to driving. (Now in House finance)
My HB 41, making assault of a school employee an aggravating factor in sentencing, has passed the House and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
I’ve filed HB58, the Laci and Connor Peterson Bill, along with Rep. Gatto. It’s a companion bill to Sen. Dyson’s Senate Bill 20, which I’ve co-sponsored in the House. These are actually “Pro-Choice” bills. If you kill an unborn child while in the act of assaulting the mother, the murderer has taken whatever “choice” the mother may have had, had she not been assaulted.
My HB 258, Assault with HIV/AIDS, has been referred to HESS Committee. Any rape is horrible. A rape with HIV/AIDS, is nothing less than slow murder.
My HB 290 requires that an alien must have a legal presence in the United States to obtain an Alaska driver’s license. Sen. Charlie Huggins has a companion bill in the Senate, and we’re working cooperatively. Most of us would think that’s common sense, but nowadays common sense isn’t so common. (In House State Affairs)
Did you know that if you get a telephone call, and your caller ID identifies the call as coming from the cops, that it could be a hoax? Hackers can feed phony information into your caller ID, and that’s not good. My HB308 addresses that situation in Alaska. (In House Judiciary).
I’ll also be sponsoring a bill on how to deal with a prisoner who assaults a correctional officer with bodily fluids, et cetera, et cetera – we’ve just had lunch, so I’ll spare the details on that one!
I also have two resolutions in the legislative process. One is a resolution opposing a Milk Tax for Alaska. It’s passed the House and is in the Senate. The other resolves that American courts rely only on the United States Constitution in deciding American court cases. I don’t care what some court does in France, Germany, Holland, or Zimbabwe. This is America, and this is Alaska!
I strongly support Rep. Coghill’s bill and Sen. Dyson’s bill that opposes the government giving marital benefits to homosexual couples, and I’ll be co-sponsoring those bills. You know, if we were even discussing such a thing in years past, somebody would have come after us with a butterfly net!
Now let’s talk about the “elephant” in the upcoming session, the gas pipeline. That’s where I’ll earn my $24,000 a year salary!
If I’m in the legislature another twenty years – not likely at my age – the button I push on a gas pipeline contract will likely be the most important vote I’ll ever cast. Do I want a gas pipe line? Sure I do. That’s easy. But how am I going to vote? I don’t know - and I shouldn’t know, because I’ve not seen a contract. The only information I have, at this point, is from the media, and political gossip. I didn’t sign the confidentiality agreement, because I wanted to see the contract the same time the public sees it. I didn’t want to be put in the position of reading something I thought was bad news, and not be able to go public with it – for me, that wouldn’t be easy.
Based on what everyone else knows, I have do some concerns. My preference is an all Alaska gas pipeline – that was on my first campaign flyer in 2002 – but I’d also prefer a new Lamborghini to the car I’m driving. But we don’t always get what we want. That’s reality, and common sense people and good legislators deal in reality. Obviously, a gas pipeline – anywhere it goes – must make economic sense to all parties concerned, or it’s a bad deal.
I must tell you I do have concerns about putting the Future of Alaska through the sovereign foreign nation of Canada. Canada is our good neighbor today, and has been for many years – but who will the Prime Minister be in 20 years? Who will our president be in 20 years? Who will be our governor, and who will be the provincial governors? What will be the international issues in 20 years? Who knows? The answer is, nobody knows. So what’s to protect us if we have a falling out with our neighbor, and they shutdown the pipeline? Couldn’t happen you say. I admire your faith.
I’m very concerned with giving producers total control of dates, for what they will do and when they’ll do it. If one producer drags their feet, what can the other producers do about it, and what can Alaska do about it? Somebody needs to answer that question, and the answer should be in the contract.
Has the law of today been followed in the negotiations? Some say it hasn’t. I know at least seven people who say it hasn’t. If so, is the legislature supposed to make a hurry hurry quick fix of the law to make it fit the contract? I think that’s legislating in reverse, and I don’t like it.
There’s lots of questions and, at this point, not a lot of answers. Whatever, I hope no one in the legislature will base their votes on party politics - or whether or not they like the governor. The contract’s what important - - not the party, not the governor, not campaign contributions. When the time comes – and your guess is as good as mine, when that’ll be – my vote on the gas pipeline will be for what I hope is, in the balance – I repeat: in the balance - the best for Alaska.
Thank again for the opportunity to visit with you today. And please, ask all the hard questions to my colleagues. Once again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, and everyone you love!
(Note: Other legislators speaking at the forum: Senators Ben Stevens, Fred Dyson, Hollis French, and Representatives Ethan Berkowitz and Sharon Cissna.)