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).

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Committee Chairs in the legislature hold tremendous power. The voting public elects the legislators, but the majority caucus elects committee chairs.

The House of Representatives passes legislation by a majority vote of 21 or more. But first, legislation must make it to the House floor through an often tortuous committee process headed by committee chairs. “That’s the rub” or, put another way, the politics of it. Here’s how it works . . .
A legislator drafts and files a bill with the House Clerk. The Clerk “reads the bill across the floor” during a floor session; then the Speaker of the House assigns the bill to any committee or committees he chooses. That’s where the politics start. Usually a bill gets referred to two committees, plus the finance committee if there’ a “fiscal note” (money) involved. Fiscal notes can also be manipulated (the higher the fiscal note, the less like a bill is to pass) - but that’s another story.

If the Speaker favors a bill, he can refer it to one committee headed by a chairman who also favors the bill. Conversely, if the Speaker opposes a bill, he can refer it to a larger number than usual number of committees (whose chairs may also oppose the bill). In addition to everything else, extra referrals can “run out the clock” and cause a bill to die when the legislature adjoins sine die. This tactic can be especially deadly to a bill during the new shorter ninety day legislative session. Running out the clock also can keep of opponent’s “fingerprints” off the corpse of the bill - because no one had to go on record for voting against it. But that’s only the beginning of the story. When the bill arrives at a committee/s, its fate is very much in the hands of that particular chair.

So how does one get to be a committee chair? First of all, only the majority political caucus has power to select committee chairs. About a week after a November general election, a closed door organizational meeting is held to elect, by secret vote of the majority caucus, the “leadership:” the speaker, majority leader, rules chair, and the two finance committee co-chairs. Next, legislators who didn’t get elected to leadership can vie for election to a committee chairmanship. Those who didn’t get elected to one committee chair, may try for election to different committee chairmanship. Then those who didn’t get elected to leadership, or to any committee chair, choose their committee memberships in order of seniority. All in all, it’s a pretty fair process.

Now here is where the power of the “mighty” committee chair comes in. When a bill is referred to a committee, the chair can exert their power to hear or to not hear a bill and, if the bill is heard at all, when to schedule it (as soon as possible, or delayed). Likewise, the chair decides how many hearings to conduct, and decides whether to bring – or not to bring - the bill to a committee vote to send it on the next committee.

If the chair decides not to hear a bill, no reason need be given. The bill then effectively dies in that committee. Sometimes a chair will exert leverage by “sitting on” a legislator’s bill in his committee, until his own personal bill is heard in some other committee. Sometimes, unfortunately, a chair may hold a bill to “punish” its sponsor for some perceived affront. What happens or doesn’t happen to a bill may come down to strategy, revenge, or “just because.”

The principal problem with all this is that important bills may be killed on the whim of only one legislator, despite the merits of an issue, despite the constituents who elected the bill sponsor, and despite the best interests of all Alaska.

Is there any remedy to the nearly unbridled power of the chair? Yes. It’s a procedure known as “rolling the chair.” However, in the current legislative culture, rolling the chair is nearly a mortal sin. It is possible for the full legislative to vote a bill out of a committee where it’s been held by a chair. But votes to “roll the chair” are difficult to win – as can be seen in the April 08 vote on HB301 in the Senate (failed 5 to 15 – not so much for the issue, but more to putting procedure – and preserving the power of a chair - ahead of the issue). In other words: procedure over principle. But one could argue that procedures are necessary for organizational cohesion and effectiveness.

Most of this power of the chair stuff is not unique to Alaska. Many other states do the same thing, and the same thing happens in the United States Congress. But just because “everyone” does something, doesn’t it make it good or bad.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


We are passengers on a small planet, revolving around a small star that’s one star among unknown trillions of other stars that stretch to infinity, whatever and wherever “infinity” is. Theologians, philosophers, and scientists (and some folks are all three) seldom agree on anything, but one would hope they agree it’s no less than common sense to protect our home – not just the home address where our bills are delivered - but the larger home we call “earth.”

A sidebar: Families live in homes. If the earth is home, it follows that all mankind who live in our home is family (please excuse my aged use of the aged word “mankind,” rather than the politically correct “humankind” – but I digress).

The late (and rather liberal) Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day, his idea being to funnel the energy of the 60s era anti-Vietnam demonstrators and assorted hippies into a positive force to protect our environment. As one result, unfortunately, “Earth Day” has received something of a “bad rap” because it has attracted more than its share of environmental “wackos” and liberal “looney tunes” and latter-day hippies who, in a manner of speaking, have replaced, in their scheme of things, Christianity with the “holy environment." But on the other and more positive hand, Earth Day has also focused attention from the more sane among us toward environmental protection and sensible conservation - and I'm in favor of that.

The conservative and robust President Teddy Roosevelt died in 1919, long before the advent of Earth Day in 1969. Nonetheless I extend a heartfelt “bully” to Teddy for what he said in 1908 that foreshadowed the legitimacy of our modern Earth Day. Roosevelt said, “Of all the questions which can come before this nation, there is none which compares in importance to the great central task of leaving this land an even better land for our descendants than it is for us, and training them into a better race to inhabit the land and pass it on. Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuation of the nation.”

How we approach Earth Day, and all environmental issues, depends much on our worldview. In my “not so humble opinion,” we should celebrate the Creator, not the creation, i.e. God not earth. The Book of Genesis (read either literally or figuratively: your choice) provides a bedrock understanding our environment: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." In my faith tradition, man was created in the Image of God, and that is an honor beyond earthy treasures.

The Good Book also tells us God said earth, and all that is in it, is very very good. The same Book instructs us to be “good stewards” of His creation – and that's where caring responsibly for our fragile planet and celebrating Earth Day comes in. Happy Earth Day!

PS: Maybe we should also proclaim a “Creation Day.” Something to think about!

Monday, April 21, 2008


The following is my response to a critical email I received which reads (edited), "We have sent you (our representatives) sufficient Public Opinion Messages regarding this (issue) and the unconstitutional nature of it. You took an oath to uphold our constitution when we voted you into office. Please tell me why you voted (as you did)."

"Dear (concerned Alaskan),

Thank you for your email.

I take my constitutional duties very seriously, and I honor my oath. That doesn't mean I have to agree with every folk with an opposite opinion. My job is to represent, as best as I know how, the people in the district which elects me - whether they voted for me or not. I can tell you, on any given issue - especially controversial issues - I usually get diametrically opposed Public Opinion Messages (POMs). I try personally to read as many as I can, and my staff reads the others and advises me.

I do my best to listen to all those who communicate with me, by whatever means the communication arrives, my own district first, and then the others. I do not, however, simply tally the pros and cons from POMs, emails, phone calls, letters, visits, etc. A machine could do that, but that's not what a thoughtful representative does. I am not a "counting machine." I do also pay some attention to my own experience, basic philosophy and, hopefully, common sense. I hope my constituents expect that.

I may have my opinions, same as you, but neither of us are the arbiter of what is and is not "constitutional." That's the job of the Alaska Supreme Court and, as the final arbiter, the United States Supreme Court - courts with which, by the way, I don't always agree (and, on split decisions, the judges don't even agree with themselves).

I have only two buttons to push when I vote: "yea," "nay." That means that, like every other legislator, I had at least a 50-50 chance of being "right." I regret you disagree with my vote. Have a great day in this great nation!

Respectfully, Rep. Bob Lynn"

Sunday, April 20, 2008


“Bully” for the folks behind the “Denali ‘ The Alaska Gas Pipeline’” announcement. Alaska now has two serious potential pipeline builders. That’s good news. But please, a cautionary note.

As BP Exploration Alaska president Doug Suttles aptly put it, “This is not an announcement to build a plan. This an announcement to start the project." As one of my colleagues pointed out, a company press release is not a proposal that upon acceptance can become a contract. The numerous disclaimers attached to the press release makes that abundantly clear.

Before "Denali" gets off the drawing board and dirt is actually moved, BP and ConocoPhillips must first reach agreement with the Palin Administration, and gain subsequent approval by the legislature. I do believe, however, that TransCanada, BP, and ConocoPhillips are all sincere in wanting to build the pipeline. I also suspect that all of them will eventually seek extra financial concessions before any of them signs on the dotted line. That may be OK, if it makes economic sense, and so long as we don’t “give away the store” as our previous Governor Murkowski seemed comfortable doing.

The biggest unknown at this point is what the true cost of the pipeline will be. What is known, is that each day we delay the cost will increase, and each day we run the risk of lower gas prices that could lessen enthusiasm for building the pipeline. Ergo, we need to proceed with any of these pipeline folks with all deliberate speed.

It was encouraging that US Senator Lisa Murkowski stated, "Gov. Sarah Palin should be congratulated. By her tough stance over the past two years, she has brought the companies around to building a gas line now." The senator added, "It is unlikely this announcement would have come today, if not for a process like AGIA that has crystallized the outlook for development of Alaska's North Slope gas reserves." Let me add on my own that, along with our euphoria, we shouldn’t forget the “must haves” that form the basis of Governor Palin’s AGIA

If things pass muster, I think the administration should take the TransCanada AGIA proposal to the legislature for us to consider during the Special Session scheduled for June 3rd, 2008. That will give 60 elected representatives a direct "say so" in what happens. Just as importantly, the special session will help keep political pressure on all the gas pipeline players.

What I hope – and hope springs eternal – is that TransCanada and the Denali people can partner up with negotiations taking place behind the scenes. The gas pipeline, if the resource and market is what we think it is, can provide huge profit potential to a large number of “partners,” whoever they are. Permit me to state the obvious. If money can be made, someone – or some combination of “someones” - will build the gas pipeline. That’s true, for anyone. It’s called capitalism, and I’m in favor of it.

Now let's add to the mix (as if things weren't complicated enough). Don’t forget that negotiations are also heating up for an All Alaska Pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez for liquid natural gas (LNG). This approach to shipping our gas to market is popular with many Alaskans, and not a few legislators. A major advantage of an All Alaska pipeline is that we wouldn’t have to deal with Canada which, long time friend though they be, Canada is still a foreign sovereign nation – and their interests aren’t always aligned with ours (remember the divergence on missile defense?).

What will be the international situation in twenty years? Who will be the President of the United States in twenty years, who will be the Prime Minister of Canada, who will leader of the Yukon Territory and Alberta, and who will be the governor of Alaska? Contact Mistress Latisha on the Psychic Network – maybe she knows. The point is, it's easier to deal with Alaska in-state problems than problems involving two nations, a foreign province, a foreign territory.

Moreover, whoever builds the gas pipeline and whatever its route, Alaska desperately needs gas spur lines to south central Alaska, the Fairbanks area, and other places too.

The cost of the Denali pipeline could reach $30 billion. On the other side of the coin, such a pipeline could inject some $100 billion in tax revenue to the state. In words from an old time radio show, “’Taint bad, Magee.”

Friday, April 18, 2008


Our legislative session ended Sunday April 13th. On Monday the 14th, I planned some of next year's agenda with staff, including potential 2009 legislation. On the same day, I packed my "stuff" from the Driftwood Lodge Motel (where I stay in Juneau during the session) into my big Chevy Suburban (a non-"green" vehicle, if there ever was one) to be put on the ferry at Auke Bay near Juneau on the 16th. I flew home on the 15th, and put my income taxes in the mail that night (I wasn't alone. There was a line at the post office).

On Friday the 18th I rode in the legislative van down from Anchorage to Whittier, along with other legislators and staff, to pick my car with all my personal goodies in it (including the computer I'm using right now).

Enroute back to Anchorage, I drove through the 2.5 mile long Whittier Tunnel - officially the "Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel," and officially the longest highway tunnel in North America. Of course I went through the tunnel! It's the only way to drive out of Whittier.


God Bless Governor Sarah and Todd Palin on the birth today of their new son Trig Paxson Van Palin. Congratulations! He’s 6 lbs and 2 ounces. We are very very proud of the entire Palin family.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


On the last day, and the last few minutes of the 25th Alaska Legislature, Representative Mary Nelson brought attention to the now infamous remarks of an Anchorage talk show host about native women. We passed unanimously a “Sense of the House” condemning what the radio man said. I was a co-sponsor of the resolution.

Native women, and all of us, have a right – more so, a duty – to be outraged by the racist adaptation of the vintage answer to the question, “What makes a real Alaskan?” No one can look inside the head of the radio talk guy who brought the inexcusable words onto the airwaves – but no difference. If he thought he was saying something “funny” – he needs to redefine funny.

Yes, I’m more open minded than once I was. Whether that’s good or bad is debatable. But open minded and empty minded are two different things. It’s like “tolerance.” Many folks will unthinkingly tell us tolerance is always a good thing. But it is not. Hopefully, we can agree we should all be intolerant of all manner of bad things – and that includes intolerance of racism broadcast on the radio.

To put the kindness possible spin on what happened, perhaps the radio guy was simply trying to gain admittance to “shock radio,” and the racial import and hurt of what he was broadcasting wasn’t immediately realized due to his ambition to shock his way into shock radio money from stardom. But words – and actions – do have consequence. One can’t put toothpaste back into the tube, and neither can words or actions be put back from whence they came. The whole shock radio scene, and what happened in Anchorage, is one small part of an increasing societal crudeness.

In the age of most peoples’ grandparents, the movie heartthrob Clark Gable spoke the words – what we thought were crude words then - “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” in the movie Gone with the Wind. That was pretty tame stuff compared to the crudeness we routinely hear - not just in the media, including shock radio and shock TV - but also in what used to be the “polite society” of social intercourse.

Nowadays men too often don’t care what the say in front of ladies, and “ladies” too often don’t blush when they hear it, and too often speak with equal – sometimes more than equal – crudeness. Our children too often practice crudeness one-upmanship in front of adults and there’s little or no consequence. Anything goes. Everyone seems to be continually pushing the envelope of what can be said. Everyday we all get a little more desensitized. Then comes along some racially insensitive jerk who apparently wants to win the crudeness contest, no matter who suffers. He spouts off on the radio, and those with a smidgen of conscience are rightfully offended. As Pope Benedict said today during his visit to the White House, “Freedom is not only a gift, its a summons to personal responsibility.” I think that can apply to so-called Freedom of Speech on the radio.

Shame on anyone who by action or inaction supports racial assaults on the radio, or anywhere else. Shame also on any of us who contribute to a culture of crudeness.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Today I made friends with a Valkyrie named Emilie. Wow! We met first in the House gallery, then again on the capitol steps in Juneau. Sometimes its tough being a legislator, but someone has to do it.

In Norse mythology, a Valkyrie is a female deity who chooses the most heroic of men who have died in battle and carries them off to Valhalla. Well, I’ve been in some battles, but I ain’t dead yet – no way, no how. The Valkrie plainly could see I'm ready and able for battles to come, so she didn’t even bother to take my pulse. Valhalla will have to wait.

My Valkyrie friend is Emilie Sperl from Petersburg, Alaska. Next time I have to confront someone who didn’t like one of my votes, I’ll take her with me. Emilie was in Juneau to promote the Norway Festival to be held mid-May in Petersburg.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


This is a photo of my staff: (Left to Right) Dirk Moffatt of Anchorage, Nancy Manly and Mike Sica of Juneau, Alaska. Many legislators have competent staff, and many have “good” staff. But my office is Blessed with staff that is both “good people” and competent.

When you see me in action in Committee, or on the House floor, you are seeing only the point man. Usually behind the scenes, there’s a mountain of paperwork required to get anything accomplished in the legislature. There’s critical interaction of my staff with the staffs of other legislators – that greases the skids for accomplishment. When I come up with an idea for a bill, I debate the pros and cons with staff (they are as opinionated and lovable as me). When another legislator’s bill comes before a committee on which I serve, or before I have to vote “yes” or “no” on the record on the House floor, I usually debate the issue with staff – and it can get pretty loud! The staff gets me in touch with constituents and others with an opinion on an issue. I confess: some of my best “sound-bytes” or pithy quotes originate with staff (every once in awhile, I do come up with one of my own – and they keep a notebook of my wondrous favorite sayings).

My staff coordinates with “leg legal” (the attorneys across the street with the green eyeshades who draft bills and amendments), to make sure I have quality documents to work with. Many times, when I’m here to midnight – especially at the end of session time crunch – the staff is here too. My staff is more than co-workers, they’ve become friends . . . not only friends, but “family.” We know a lot about each other – stuff you’ll never read here. I hope I never disappoint – too badly - my staff.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


The photo shows me signing Legislative Certificates, congratulating our graduates at South High School in Anchorage. The signed certificates will be awarded during high school graduation ceremonies. High school graduation is a major milestone in a successful person’s life. High school graduates make folks proud. Congratulations! My legislative colleagues Sen. Con Bunde, and Rep. Mike Hawker, have signed the same certificates.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Today, the House passed on reconsideration a bill 23-15 that requires minor girls to obtain parental permission for an abortion. The legislation was HB364, and I was a co-sponsor. The bill was in response to the Alaska Supreme Court 3-2 decision to overturn the parental consent law passed in 1997. There’s now a new Alaska Supreme Court judge, and that provides some hope for HB364 being upheld.

I had planned some comments on the bill, but a wise legislator knows that if the votes are there, shut up and vote! The following is what I was going to say,

“HB364 is really a ‘parental rights bill,’ not an abortion bill. Children don’t belong to the United States Supreme Court. Children don’t belong to the Alaska Supreme Court. Children, even pregnant minor girls, are a Gift from God to parents. If parents are to have responsibility for children, they need and deserve parental rights – and those rights include the right to know when their child is bearing their grandchild, and the right to exercise parenting responsibilities before their minor girl aborts her child, and their grandchild.”


See previous Blogs for my House floor comments on HB368 and amendment battle reported in the following story on the HB368 debate appeared in the Anchorage Daily News this morning.

The Associated Press

Last Modified: April 6th, 2008 06:15 AM

JUNEAU -- A bill to modify the state's ethics laws passed the Alaska House Saturday despite containing what its sponsor called "a bad seed in an otherwise good bill."

Among other provisions, the bill by Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, would expand a prohibition on lawmakers accepting or soliciting campaign donations in Juneau, the capital city, to include any municipality where a session is held in the 90 days before an election. But the House Finance Committee added an exemption for lawmakers who have filed to run in a municipality where a special legislative session is being held.

The exemption would pertain only to Juneau lawmakers in the next election — a special session in the capital city is scheduled for later this summer. But it could affect other lawmakers if future special sessions are held elsewhere within 90 days of an election. A special session on senior benefits was held in Anchorage last summer.

House Finance Committee co-Chairman Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, said the issue only cropped up in recent years when the Legislature started having a lot of special sessions.

Lynn said the exemption would open up a "Grand Canyon of loopholes," and he tried to remove it. But Meyer said he couldn't support Lynn's amendment to remove the exemption unless the prohibition on campaign donations applied to an incumbent's opponents as well.

The amendment, sponsored by Lynn and Juneau Democrats Andrea Doll and Beth Kerttula, failed by a vote of 14-25, and the bill containing the exemption then passed 39-0. (MY ADDRED NOTE: Among the 14 voting "yes" for my amendment were the House Republican Majority Leader, and the House Republican Rules Chairman).

The bill also would loosen the laws concerning gifts, allowing a legislator or staff member to accept a gift worth $250 or more from a lobbyist, if the lobbyist is an immediate family member.

It also establishes fines for "willful" late disclosure filings and allows the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics to publish official summaries of decisions and advisory opinions on an annual basis.

Most of the bill's sections are based on the select committee's recommendations. The bill goes to the Senate next. The bill is HB 368. ###

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Following is my House floor speech in support of my amendment to remove Section 2 of AS 24.60.031(c) from my HB368 ethics bill. Rightly or wrongly, the speech caused quite a stir in the capitol building (“stir” loosely translated as “yikes!”).

"Mr. Speaker, this is an amendment to remove Section 2 of HB368 that was added in the last committee. The subject matter has little to do with the subject matter of the underlying bill. Basically, the amendment removes a bad seed that should not be planted in a good bill. Section 2 was not one of the recommendations by the Select Committee on Ethics for this legislation …

Section 2 puts us on a very slippery slope, that increases the danger of mixing campaign contributions and legislative votes in too close proximity to the physical location of special sessions.

Unless we pass this amendment, a legislator could get campaign contributions anyplace a special session occurs, if that session is held 90 days immediately preceding an election as long as that legislator is running for office in a district within the municipality hosting the session …

Proponents of new fundraising loophole claim the current law is unfair to Juneau legislators … They say they are at a competitive disadvantage when special sessions are held in the Capital city. But my colleagues from Juneau have not complained.

Unless we remove Section 2, I think this provision could lead down the path to some bad habits from the good old days – days that actually weren’t that good. Newspaper accounts I’ve found from 12 years ago, make the point.

In those days, executives and lobbyists coming in the door to see legislators would pass by tables covered with upside down top hats. For anyone with an IQ above a clam, it didn’t take long to figure out what the hats were for. And the checks, mostly sheathed in envelopes, would pile up fast …

Then, during the evening, there would be fund-raising receptions and other such campaign-enriching events …

And throughout all these cash-fueled meet and greets, lawmakers voted on important legislation - bills that were often of interest to the patrons of political campaigns … According to an Anchorage Daily News story from that era, one lobbyist was quoted as saying: “I can’t believe the legislators don’t find this as distasteful as most people think it is … It’s just a lousy system.”

We’re come a long say since, with some recent notable detours, in building a Foundation of Trust through campaign and ethics reform that prohibit lawmakers from using state offices and equipment to raise campaign funds …

But this Section 2 of HB 368 … this gaping loophole in the fundraising rules … would make it possible to raise money on private property across the street, down the block, or in the neighborhood … Mixing campaign contributions and legislative votes that close to the location of a session, regular or special, creates - at the very least - the appearance of improper influence … and quite possibly the seed for public corruption. Mr. Speaker, that’s a seed that should not be planted.

Let me make this perfectly clear. My colleagues who voted for this exemption have good and honest intentions. One legislator testified that you have to assume people are honest. Well I do. But I also have to assume that some people will do whatever the law allows them to do - especially under the pressure of a competitive race …

Another colleague said he was going to err, he would err on the side of equal treatment – the rationale being that no lawmaker should be at a fundraising disadvantage simply because they reside in the municipality where a session is held.

I can understand that. But I also believe there’s a compelling state interest that supersedes this argument, and that is the need to preserve the integrity of the legislative process … which, by the way, is the mission of the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics …

In 1982, a local cartoonist drew a wonderful cartoon of a legislator holding out his hand toward a man reaching for his wallet. The caption reads: “These things aren’t free, you know. Why do you think they’re called bills?”

Please eliminate this fundraising loophole attached to HB368. Please help us maintain a healthy distance between someone’s checkbook and a legislator with a vote."

NOTE: My amendment failed on a bi-partisan vote of 14 to 25 (you win some, lose some). Among the 14 voting “yes” with me were the Republican Majority Leader, the Democrat Minority Leader, the Republican Rules Chairman, and the Republican Finance Co-Chair.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


PRESS RELEASE: The following letter was sent to Mr. Mike Burns, Executive Director, Alaska Permanent Corporation on April 3, 2008. The letter is a good faith attempt to resolve issues addressed by House Bill (HB) 287 which seeks divestment of Permanent Fund money in six foreign companies doing business in the Darfur region of Sudan. Basically, Mr. Burns has testified before the House State Affairs Committee that the Permanent Fund Corporation opposes, and has a policy against, so-called “social investing, and that enacting HB287 into law would violate long standing policy.

This letter is an invitation to “reason together,” with specific recommendations to the State Affairs Committee for appropriate legislation that addresses the Darfur genocide investment issue – or how the issue might be resolved, if practical, within the administration without legislation.

I plan to work diligently throughout the Interim on crafting legislation that will address concerns of all parties involved. At this point, we are almost at the end of the 25th Legislature. This letter, in a manner of speaking, “puts the ball in the court of Mr. Burns” for action.
Dear Mr. Burns:

Please suggest to the House State Affairs how we might “come reason together” to take the high moral ground, avoid unconscionable investments, and obtain maximum returns from the thousands of investment opportunities that don’t assist genocide currently occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan. We hope you agree this is possible. Let us know how we may help.

We understand that the goal of the Permanent Fund Corporation is to invest for the maximum return, while maintaining an appropriate level of safety for the people’s money. You have expressed that your corporation’s policy is opposed to so-called “social investing.” We appreciate there are many social issues, as well as a paucity of agreement on many of those issues. But, surely at some point – and we would submit that point is assisting genocide – could we not agree that investment of the people’s money would be both abhorrent and a “bad investment”?

Since 2003, the Sudanese Government has killed, or allowed the killing of well over 200,000 of its own people, and uprooted upwards to 2 million more - and the genocide continues to escalate. The killing has been recognized as genocide both by the President of the United States, and the United States Congress, as well as the United Nations. Hopefully, decision makers in Alaska also recognize genocide as a bipartisan issue.

Due to many factors, including time constraints imposed by the new ninety day session, we were unable to move HB287 out of State Affairs and into law this session. Had this bill become law, the Permanent Fund and the State Pension Fund would have been required to divest funds from companies investing in Sudan that are identified as complicit in the Darfur genocide. For your convenience, a list is attached of the six foreign companies in which the Permanent Fund Corporation is invested.

Please communicate at your earliest convenience guidelines for legislation to our committee that will that will maintain everyone’s goal of profitable and safe investments without unconscionable investments that help fund genocide. Or, if possible, please let us know if the same goal can be obtained by action within the administration.

Yours truly,

Chair, House State Affairs Committe

Cc: Governor Sarah Palin
Members of the House State Affairs Committee

Free Web Site Counter
Free Counter