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).

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Everybody’s been told that the gas pipeline will be a massive project of engineering and construction. All the presentations, with all the graphs and all the pie charts, and all the statistics, attempt to communicate what a massive project the pipeline will be. But my trip dragging my RV trailer to Juneau from Anchorage to have housing during the special session, brought the magnitude of the project home to me.

Part of my drive was the 297 miles from Tok, Alaska, to Haines Junction in Canada’s Yukon Territory – and that’s only a very small portion of the proposed pipeline route. Again, I don’t think I fully appreciated the magnitude of the gas pipeline project - or even the effort required to build just three feet of the pipeline -until I drove past the tundra, forest, rock, bog, rivers, mountains, and every other variety of terrain over which the pipeline will pass.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Tourist season in Juneau: all the lodging facilities are booked, have grossly inflated rates, or both. As a result, legislators have found ourselves in a housing crunch, because we have had to remain in Juneau past the end of the regular session on May 9th, due to the governor calling us into special session to deal with a new oil tax proposal, and issues related to the proposed gas pipeline. Some legislators are sleeping in their offices, and others are – well, who knows? But the thought occurred to me, “I have a perfectly good 22 ft RV travel trailer up in Anchorage.”

So, during the Memorial Day break in the special session, I hooked up my trailer to my Chevy Suburban and dragged my little home-on-wheels 775 miles from Anchorage to Haines, Alaska, and then put it on the ferry to Juneau (before you ask: none of this at government expense) the capitol, and I have a place to rest my weary bones between House floor and Committee legislative sessions.

A tiring trip Yes, but what a “beauty overload.” Simply sensational!

The entire trip was like driving through an endless picture postcard. What a marvelous place is Alaska. What a Blessing to live in this Great Land. What an honor to help represent Alaskans in the legislature.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


A newsperson asked me whom I’m supporting for governor. One: Anybody running for governor who needs my support to win, should withdraw immediately! Two: I’ll support the candidate who wins the Republican nomination for governor on August 22nd.

Monday, May 15, 2006


The governor has called the legislature into special session. At long last, the governor has released what he has been calling the gas pipeline “contract.” Actually, it’s a proposed contract - but we have to start somewhere. A gas pipeline would be a bonanza for Alaska’s future generations, with billions of dollars to Alaska. I’ll do everything that I can to help bring an appropriate gas pipeline contract to fruition, and to bring Alaska's stranded gas to market.

Regretfully, it appears some legislators may be doing everything they can to kill the contract. Other legislators may want a gas contract - but not on this governor’s watch. It’s irresponsible. It’s politics at its worst. It’s not what we were elected for.

If we don’t like the contract, the responsible action is a good faith effort to fix it. Without doubt, ratification of the proposed contract presents significant legislative challenges (in my vocabulary a challenge is opportunity). What are some of the challenges?

Challenges 1: Arriving at a Petroleum Production Tax (PPT) that can pass both the House and the Senate, and be signed by the governor.

Comment: Revision of Alaska’s oil taxes is necessary for bridging the financial gap between now and gas pipeline completion. The current oil tax (ELF) is obsolete, and is losing the state millions in revenue. After a marathon debate lasting until daybreak on May 8th, the House compromised with a 21.5% oil tax. The next day, the Senate failed to concur with the House vote, and the legislature adjoined sine die.

When the legislature adjourned, all un-passed legislation died - including the oil tax. Result? Alaska has lost millions of bucks in expected revenue from any one of the proposed oil taxes. We ended up with the worst of all and the best of none. On top of that, our state budget exceeds the revenue we expected from the new oil tax. A classic “cluster-fumble.”

Challenge 2: Establishing some sort of “fiscal certainty” for the producers to invest the billions of dollars needed to construct the gas pipeline – or the producers claim they will not build the pipeline.

Comment: The governor’s contract has a provision the oil tax rate (whatever it turns out to be) to be sacrosanct for 30 years, and a gas tax to be inviolate for 45 years. That presents me with a personal challenge. I’ll be 103 years old when the oil tax schedule expires, and 118 years old when the gas schedule ends! I’m buying more vitamins.

There’s immense grumbling from my fellow legislators on the 30 and 45 year “olly olly oxen free” tax rate period. Currently doubt they’re enough votes in either the House or Senate to approve such lengthy “certainty” for the producers. To get the pipeline, difficult compromises will be required from all parties. I’m hoping some type of “re-openers” can be worked into the contract. The producers need some fiscal certainty – but the state also needs some certainty.

Challenge 3: Producers claim tax rates and duration of the rates are locked into contract or it’s a “deal breaker.” On top of that, even if legislature agrees to the lock-in, the court may not allow one legislature to bind another legislature on either tax rates, or length of an oil tax agreement.

Comment: The Alaska Attorney General says binding future legislatures on these matters will pass constitutional muster. Other attorneys disagree. Attorneys always “win,” regardless what happens. Our legislative challenge is to insure Alaska wins, whatever the courts decide.

Challenge 4: The governor’s proposed contract has no specific pipeline start date, no milestone dates, and no completion date.

Comment: The administration and the producers claim specific contractual performance dates would kill the proposed contract. I have concerns about “legalized gambling.” But, check out the stakes involved!

Challenge 5: The governor’s contract proposes 20% state ownership of the gas pipeline.

It’s been no secret the governor has wanted some percentage of state ownership in the pipeline. Many of us thought (including me) that the question state ownership was a question of “could” or “should.” Now that the contract is on the table, and the cat is out of the bag, we learn that 20% state ownership is not an option. It is a “must.” Or the gas pipeline will never be built! The legislature will have to decide if potential reward is worth the risk.

Challenge 6: Overcoming any and all challenges.

Comment: As the saying goes, “Everyone wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.” The legislature may find itself in the impractical position of “everyone (well almost) wants a gas pipeline, but nobody wants to compromise.” Obviously, the legislature needs to “come reason together,” and overcome the challenges. I’m an optimist, and I think we can. No one should be a legislator (or parent, teacher, clergy, doctor) unless they’re an optimist. If we don’t think we can make things better, we have no business being here.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Sine die is Latin for permanent adjournment of a legislature. With sine die motions in both houses of the legislature, the 24th Alaska State Legislature will have no more regular sessions. All bills and resolutions not passed in the 24th Legislature are now dead. The new 25th Legislature will convene in January 2007.

The last day of session was consumed mostly by House bills changed by the Senate, and sent back to the House for concurrence. Bill sponsors explained the changes, and recommended “concur” or “non-concur.” Bills with concurrence passed the legislature. Some bills seeking concurrence didn’t make it to the House floor for a concurrence vote, before adjournment sine die– and those bills are also dead.

About 6 :00PM, my bill providing a mandatory 60 sentence for a criminal assault on school property (meant to help protect teachers and other school employees), passed House concurrence with changes made in the Senate – after some battles with minority legislators. I jokingly refer to HB41 as my “Lazarus Bill,” because it’s taken four years to get it passed, and was resurrected from several “deaths” enroute through the legislative process. Good thing I’m persistent! Later in the evening HB258, my bill making rape by someone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS an aggravating factor at sentencing, passed House concurrence with Senate changes without a problem. Both these bills are now going to the governor for his signature – I hope.

It’s a very difficult to get any legislature into law. Bills and resolutions must run a gauntlet through House and Senate committees – where committee chairs has the power to never hold a hearing, or never let the bill go to a vote. And, of course, legislation must have a majority vote in both the House and Senate. Then the governor must sign the legislation, not veto it.

Too often politics – personalities, favors, grudges, partisanship, currying district support, et cetera – have more to do with legislation surviving the gauntlet process than the merits of a bill. It’s all messed up, but it is truly less messed up than anywhere else in the world. God Bless America!!

An example of how legislation doesn’t pass “until the fat lady sings” is SB305, the contentious oil tax bill (PPT). That’s the bill the House struggled with and didn’t pass until daybreak today. It got wrapped around multiple political axles and became terminal on the Senate’s last day.

The Senate killed the SB305, the oil tax bill, on a 10 -10 tie vote. 8 Republicans voted and 2 Democrats voted YES. 4 Republicans and 6 Democrats voted NO. Party switching caused the bill’s demise.

In an effort to salvage SB305, a last minute motion was made to rescind killing the bill, but that motion failed 9 to 11. This time, 7 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted to rescind, but 6 Republicans and 5 Democrats voted NO. With that action the Senate adjoined sine die moments before midnight. And the regular session of the 24th Alaska Legislation became history.


A marathon session in the House of Representatives today. I didn’t leave the capitol building until 4:30AM. Fortunately I’m a “night person,” plus have experience working multitudinous graveyard shifts while serving in the military.

At long last, the highly controversial SB305 to establish the “PPT” (Petroleum Production Tax) came to the House floor for debate. Thirty – yes 30 - amendments were offered to the bill. The governor had offered a tax of 20% in the bill. The debate ranged between merits and demerits of a 20 to 25% tax. The problem: to find a rate upon which at least 21 House members could coalesce into agreement. Many of us also wanted to establish a tax rate that would be acceptable to the Senate (which had passed a 22.5% tax) – so that the Senate would concur with the House, and we could expedite moving into the critical gas pipeline process debate.

When we started the tax rate debate, House members were pretty much “all over the map” on what the rate should be. This pretty much reflects mail, phone calls, and email from my constituents. It seems half my constituents want to have little or no tax, and half want to tax the oil producers out of existence. Obviously, compromise had to rule the day. As a matter of information, only a minority of the constituents who contacted me wanted the governor’s 20% rate.

I voted NO a 25% rate, voted YES for a 22.5% rate. 21% never made it to a vote. Finally, we passed the bill a 21.5% tax (I voted YES). The vote was House 28 to 11, with 1 member excused. 27 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted YES. 11 Democrats voted NO. This was a reasonable compromise. It was also a momentous vote, because the stakes are so high.

I’ve been in session in the House previously until after 2 in the morning, but 4:30AM, and going home at daybreak, is my personal record. As we used to say in the military, “We knew the risk when we joined up.”

Saturday, May 06, 2006


I’m very concerned about the actions of some people who would attempt to delay our votes on the gas tax (PPT) and the gas pipeline contract. This evening I voiced those thoughts in a speech on the House floor.

“Mr. Speaker,

A miracle has happened! The PPT (oil tax bill) is about ready for floor debate.That’s good news. Our vote on the PPT, and votes on the infinite number of amendments, will be the most momentous votes we’ll every cast, however long we are privileged to have our constituents send us down here. I think we can all agree on that.

And, we need to cast those votes with “all deliberate speed.” This is not the time to play political games and kindergarten politics. The stakes are simply too high.

I’m hearting talk, and even seeing in the newspaper and on TV, that some folks want to delay our votes on the PPT, and even the gas pipeline, until we get a new governor. I think that’s totally irresponsible. The governor isn’t the issue. Political parties aren’t the issue. Members of the legislature are not the issue. Elections are not the issue.

The PPT and the gas pipeline are the issues, and those issues must and should be decided on what we perceive are the merits of the bills and contract – not who negotiated them. That’s what’s important. Nothing else.

We must act “with all deliberate speed,” and act with the team that’s now in place. Next year there may be a new governor – who knows? The entire forty members of the House and half the Senate are up for re-election. Who’s coming back? Who knows? But whatever happens, there’ll be new committee chairs, new committee memberships, and at least some new faces in both the legislature and administration.

If we delay our votes on the PPT and gas pipeline until the 25th Legislature in January 2007, we’ll have to start all over at ground zero on the very same issues that face us now. And Alaska will lose multiple millions of dollars in the process, because of short-sighted politics and procrastination. Yes, we do need to study the issues. But no, we mustn’t study ourselves into “paralysis by analysis.” We must not allow that to happen.

In the coming days, Mr. Speaker, we certainly need to study the issues carefully, and cast our votes in a timely manner – hopefully before this legislature adjoins Tuesday evening. Indecision, for whatever reason is the worst possible outcome. Not making a decision is also a decision – and a very bad decision. To do our duty, we must act with “all deliberate speed.””

Friday, May 05, 2006


My son, Bob Lynn, Jr., is a member of the US Foreign Service, currently assigned as Information Management Officer with the United States Embassy, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Last year,Bob arranged the commuications in Ulaanbaatar for President Bush's visit to Mongolia - a job he had done earlier in 2005, when President Bush visited Tblisi, Georgia in the former Soviet Union.

Today I met Bob’s boss, Ambassador Pamela J. H. Slutz at a reception held in her honor in the Speaker’s Chambers at the State Capitol in Juneau. Ambassador Slutz was visiting Alaska as part of Alaska’s “Partnership for Peace” program and our Alaska National Guard’s State Partnership Program with Mongolia. My impression is that she’s a very fine ambassador.

I told my son I was going to show his baby pictures to his boss, the Ambassador. But I didn’t – so he owes me.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


We achieved a Pro-Life milestone in Alaska today. I’m a co-sponsor of SB20 that passed the House. The bill was introduced last January 2005, and endured a long and hotly debated journey through both the Senate and the House. I’m pleased to report that the debate in the House, was conducted with politeness by all parties – without either side varying from core beliefs. I will always be a Pro-Life vote. I believe in the sanctity of life, from the moment of conception until natural death. I was the prime sponsor of HB58, the Pro-Life companion bill in the House.

One of the “behind the scene” issues in the debate is that SB 20 recognizes the “personhood” of an unborn child, and thereby some believe would endanger Roe v. Wade. My floor speech on SB20 follows:
“Mr. Speaker:

I’m very happy to be a co-sponsor of this bill, and to have been a prime sponsor of the House companion bill. I will always think of this bill as the “Laci and Connor Peterson Bill,” in recognition of the horrific crime in which Laci and Connor Peterson were both killed in California. There were two persons, Laci and Connor, two murders, not one. Two bodies washed up on the shore, not one. Even California, liberal as it is, recognized that there were two individual murder victims, and Alaska should do the same.

There are some us here who champion the “pro-choice” cause. Well, to my way of thinking, there’s nothing wrong with “choice” itself, it just depends what the choice is. I make that point because, to a large degree, the good and sensible bill before us today is actually something of a “pro-choice” bill, and here’s why. A murderous assailant who attacks a pregnant woman, and kills the mother and kills the baby, has taken away whatever choice a pregnant woman may have had.

This is a commonsense bill that recognizes the fact that, when a pregnant woman is assaulted, there are – in fact – two victims, and the law needs to recognize that reality. This very important bill that has been four years in the making, and I think it’s another of those bills that deserves support from all sides of Pro-Life / pro-choice controversy. I strongly urge the support of everyone here. “
NOTE: SB20 passed the House on a surprisingly strong 30 to 9 vote. 30 YES, 9 NO, 1 EXCUSED. I’m pleased that we had some unexpected “YES” votes.

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