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.
- Name: Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn
- 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).
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
CONFLICT OF INTEREST: CASE STUDY
Former Governor Murkowski repeatedly told the legislature and the public that a 30-year lock-in on oil taxes and a 45-year lock-in on gas taxes were absolutely essential for the “fiscal stability” needed for his proposed gas pipeline contract. Now we learn that the governor’s own consultant told him otherwise.
In a letter to the governor dated February 1, 2006, Pedro van Meurs, the governor’s highly paid gas pipeline guru consultant, stated that such a tax lock-in was not necessary. Yet the same Pedro van Meurs briefed the legislature that the tax lock-in was critical for a successful pipeline contract. Apparently that’s how some consultants make the big bucks.
It’s a good thing that ethics bills and ethics training has been at the top of the legislative agenda since we gaveled in on January 16th.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
GOVERNOR PALIN COMES THROUGH
We will introduce the governor’s bill in the State Affairs Committee on January 30th, but not take testimony or debate her bill until after our Ethics Sub-Committee presents its recommendations. My goal is to have that happen quickly. My goal is give ethics legislation top priority.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
ETHICS LEGISLATION DECISIONS
Some House colleagues, mostly from the minority, would prefer presenting a series of bills, each bill addressing a particular ethics concern. They believe one large omnibus bill would be more difficult to shepherd successfully through the legislative process. There is some validity to that concern. The same colleagues also felt that waiting for a bill from the governor would unnecessarily delay getting any kind of bill through. I expressed my belief that the governor would submit a bill to the legislature before the end of the week, or Monday at the latest.
As Committee Chair, I opted for a single omnibus ethics bill, with the governor’s bill as the vehicle. In the balance, I believe that's the more pragmatic approach. Someone had to make a decision, and I did.
First of all, an omnibus bill removes the names of individual sponsors and takes away personal legislator’s “pride of authorship” factors that could make necessary compromises more difficult and, at the same time, doesn’t create a direct Republican or Democratic bill. I think a single piece of legislation can better mesh the various provisions of an ethics bill, and lessen the possibility of unintended consequences. I also think there’s a higher probability of success with one bill. A governor’s bill typically has more “horsepower” than a bill from an individual legislator, groups of legislators, or a committee bill.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
HELP FOR THE ETHICALLY CHALLENGED
As of this date, 10 bills addressing ethics legislation have been filed, 7 from the House, 3 from the Senate, and we have been promised an ethics bill from the Palin administration. That tells me that the legislature and the governor are making a positive response to the concerns of constituents from all over the state. In a manner of speaking, our constituents are applying some heat, and we’re beginning to see the light. The folks who elected us want us to act with all deliberate speed to enact tough, but fair and reasonable, improved ethics legislation.
Everybody knows that no ethics legislation will make an unethical person ethical. That said, better ethics legislation can help keep good people out of trouble by making more clear what is and is not a conflict of interest, and can provide remedial help to the “ethically challenged.” Most of all, better ethics legislation can improve public trust of elected officials which, in turn, can help bring about all manner of good things. As one example, if we are successful in raising the level of trust between our constituents and the government, it should make it easier to trust what happens in forthcoming gas pipeline negotiations.
We have before us today HB10, which is a bi-partisan bill with 10 prime co-sponsors, 5 Republicans and 5 Democrats. We think a bipartisan approach to ethics legislation is critical, because ethics has no party label. This is not a time for partisan politics. It’s time for improved ethics legislation. That’s what the public wants, and that’s what we should deliver.
That said, I’m pleased that we also have on today’s agenda HB20, which is another good ethics bill, that addresses similar concerns to HB 10. And, like I said, there are also other ethics bills that need to be looked at.
As Governor Palin said, during her State of the State address, she would like to see “a” ethics bill enacted, rather than a hodgepodge of bills that attempt to address only one aspect of the ethics situation but could miss the big picture, possibly interfere with each other, and lead to unintended consequences. I agree. It’s also not important whose names appear on the bill. It’s important that this committee “come reason together” to craft a good bill in a timely manner.
With these thoughts in mind, I suggest that the committee consider hearing the various bills – HB10 and HB20, on today’s agenda, and maybe some others – and then combine the best of all the proposed ethics bills into one State Affairs Committee bill or, as another alternative, use Governor Palin’s bill as a vehicle that combines the best parts of the various bills. I suggest we have a sub-committee try to put the parts together. That would create an omnibus bill ethics bill that takes all of our sponsors names off an enacted ethics bill – which you may remember was one of the suggestions we heard during the ethics training we all received last Thursday. For these reasons, I do not intend to move any ethics bills out of committee today.
We need to consider these bills carefully, and do our best to avoid unintended consequences. And, when various suggestions come forth from folks who may testify, we should make our best effort to separate the message from the messenger. I also want this committee to avoid “paralysis by analysis.” We know our bill won’t be perfect, because we are not perfect legislators, and no amount of analysis will make it perfect. The bottom line is, we proceed with all deliberate speed to move a reasonable ethics bill, sooner rather than later, to the Judiciary Committee.
To help us wade through the various ethics bills that are being offered, you’ll find a grid in your package that compares the bills with each other. As you can see from the grid, most bills are going in the same direction. With that thought in mind, I propose that we now consider the provisions of HB10, and hear testimony about HB10 which, in brief:
1) Bans legislators from accepting outside payment for work associated with legislative, political or administrative actions while in office or one year there after.
2) Requires legislators to produce greater detail in financial disclosures and work description for any outside consulting jobs.
3) Requires legislative employees and legislators leaving service to file disclosures if the related relationship occurred during service.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
WITH GOVERNOR PALIN AT INAUGURAL BALL
Good time at Governor Sarah Palin’s 2007 Inaugural Ball tonight at Centennial Hall in Juneau. Picture is me with Governor Palin when she came by our table (Still hard to call her “Governor” instead of just “Sarah”!) Good music by the Thunder Mountain Big Band. The Hall was packed. Everybody in good spirits. Marlene and I had a great time.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
ALASKA STATE OF THE STATE 2007
I was especially impressed when she said, “We can help make this world a better place, a safer place, and we can inspire greatness one way - by leading through example. First and foremost, we must lead with trust – founded upon a most ethical government."
Governor Palin also brought news she’ll be proposing an “Alaska Gas line Inducement Act”” (AGIA), and called it a “new approach to obtaining a gas pipeline contract.” As she explained, “The centerpiece of this is to induce construction of the gas pipeline. A gas line constructed on our terms, without selling Alaska’s sovereignty. This law allows a transparent and competitive process. It jumpstarts progress with incentives, and strikes the right balance on a project for the state, the nation, project proponents, and producers. It will be good for all!”
The governor has her work cut out for her, and I wish her the best! So far, she's doing great. Yes, I did vote for her.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Of course I’m proud to be elected. I wouldn’t be normal if I wasn’t. But being sworn in as an elected representative of the people is, or should be, a humbling experience. It’s not the legislator that’s important. It’s the elective office that’s important. The relationship between elected officials and the folks who elect them to office should be “trust,” whether or not someone agrees with particular votes.
Please know how grateful and appreciative I am of the support I’ve received as Alaska District 31 State House Representative during the last four years - whether the support has been your vote of confidence at election time, kind words, smile, prayers, or your understanding that sometimes I’m required to cast tough votes on controversial issues. Thank you!
It’s an honor and privilege to serve you. I will continue trying to do my best to meet your expectations of a good legislator. Remember the bumper sticker, “Lord, help me be the person my dog thinks I am.” Well, I could say, “Lord, help me be the good representative at least some of my constituents think I am.”
Thursday, January 11, 2007
MOOSE IN THE WINDOW
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
A NEAR BARF
I disagree. Joe Kennedy should be left out in the cold on some remote planet for (I apologize, but no other word fits) “pimping” Venezuela dictator President Hugo Chavez’s oil from Venezuela’s state-owned CITGO Oil Company. This is the same Chavez who’s an ally of Iran, North Korea, and Cuba, calls Jesus Christ a socialist, and insults our president when addressing the United Nations in New York.
Joe Kennedy left Congress in 1999 - that's good news. But now he leads the "Citizens’ Energy Corporation," a US distributor for CITGO. Remember when President Chavez offered free oil to Alaskan bush communities? Hats off and three cheers to the patriotic Alaska villages that refused the insulting offer from Chavez and Kennedy.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
APPARENTLY WE’RE IN GOOD SHAPE
Monday, January 08, 2007
WHAT IS “LEGISLATABLE”
The Ten Commandments
Thou shalt not kill
The Civil Law
Murder is a crime
Highway speed limits and laws mandating driving on the correct side of the road are enacted to prevent killing, et cetera
The Ten Commandments
Thou shalt not steal.
The Civil Law
Robbery, burglary, and larceny are crimes.
The Ten Commandments
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
The Civil Law
Perjury is a crime.
A quote from the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King makes my point, “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me and I think that’s pretty important.” And so do I.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
2007 LEGISLATIVE EXODUS TO JUNEAU BEGINS
Today legislators, staff, and families drove to Whittier via the three-mile tunnel to load our vehicles onto the Kennecott ferry. The ferry trip on the "Marine Highway" consumes three days. The legislative van drove those of us who weren't accompanying our vehicles on the ferry back to Anchorage. We got to get better acquainted with some of the new legislators on the ride home. Marlene and I fly out to Juneau on Saturday morning, January 13th. We've ridden the ferry three times, but are flying this time.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
NBC TELEVISION STORY ABOUT OUR ETHICS BILL
Anchorage, Alaska - Some state lawmakers are now trying to close a loophole that many feel creates corruption.
A new proposal would ban state lawmakers from double-dipping as paid consultants and lobbyists while they're in public office. Proponents say it's long overdue.
The FBI raids last August put several state lawmakers under close scrutiny and focused the spotlight again on the issue of elected officials working as paid consultants. The controversial practice is currently allowed, thanks to a loophole in the state's ethics law.
"There's no legislation at all that's going to make an unethical person ethical," said Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage.
Lynn and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have filed a proposed ethics bill to put new controls on what Lynn calls the "ethically challenged" in Juneau.
"We want to make sure that the people who are elected by the people are working for the people and not for someone else inappropriately," he said.
The proposal would ban legislators from accepting outside payments for work associated with legislative, political or administrative actions.
The consulting ban would be in effect while they hold public office and for one year after their term expires.
It also would require more detailed financial disclosure reports. Lawmakers would have to state clearly the source of any outside income and what work they did to earn the money.
"We need to change the loophole that allows money for votes in the state. That is completely unacceptable," said Hugh Fleischer from the Alaska Public Interest Research Group.
Gov. Sarah Palin is in Washington, D.C. for former President Gerald R. Ford's funeral and has not seen the bill yet.
"As you know, Gov. Palin has spearheaded ethics reform, so this is great news. She is currently working on legislation of her own that will be introduced at the beginning of the legislative session, and many of the elements that were in the bill pre-filed by Rep. Lynn have already been suggested to the governor, and she is considering those," said Sharon Leighow, who is Palin's deputy communications director.
Proponents of the ethics bill say it will draw a line that elected officials should not cross.
Brooke Miles, the director of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, said she is thrilled with the ethics reform proposal and she believes it will give the public more information about whether lawmakers are profiting from their elected positions.
NEW ETHICS LEGISLATION PROPOSED
The followng is the Press Release issued today announcing the pre-filing of the new ethics bill by a bipartisan group of representatives:
PRESS RELEASE, Jan 2, 2007: Ethics has no party label. In that spirit, a group of eight legislators, Republican and Democratic, have crafted an ethics reform bill to draw a bright line between private business dealings and the responsibilities of elected officials.
The comprehensive bill filed by Representatives Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage), Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage), Carl Gatto (R-Mat-Su), Les Gara (D-Anchorage), Paul Seaton (R-Homer), Lindsey Holmes (D-Anchorage), Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Kodiak) and Bob Buch (D-Anchorage) has three main objectives:
• To ban legislators from accepting outside payment for work associated with legislative, political or administrative actions while they are in office and for one year thereafter.
• To require greater detail in legislators’ financial disclosures by including a description of services performed and approximate number of hours spent for contract work.
• To clarify existing statutes to match a recent ruling by the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics requiring legislators and legislative employees leaving service to also file a disclosure.
Rep. Bob Lynn said, “No legislation will make an unethical legislator ethical. That said, the Legislature needs to come up with better ethics laws that will assist anyone who is “ethically challenged.”
Rep. Berta Gardner added, “This bill bans outside payment to legislators for work that should be a part of their legislative duties, and it requires the more robust disclosures that the public needs to make informed judgment about possible conflicts of interest.”
ADDED COMMENT: The next and most important step is to get the bill through the House and Senate committee process, with at 21 votes in the House and at least 11 votes in the Senate. If you think this bill is important, please contact your local legislator!