Friday in the Sun (July 28, 2017): Skinny repeal edition

Friday in the Sun is here

The week has been utterly dominated by the unfolding of the Senate’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to repeal Obamacare so in honor of last night’s skinny repeal, we’ll be doing a somewhat skinny Friday in the Sun. (Also if you feel like you have something good, you can always shoot me a tip via email at matt at midnightsunak dot com.)

Speculating on rumors and gossip surrounding Alaska politics is a time-honored tradition. It’s time for our weekly trip through the grand, gross, weird, wild and wonderful world of Alaska politics.

Murkowski in the spotlight

Sen. John McCain got plenty of credit for his vote that put the final nail in the coffin of the GOP’s rushed, one-sided attempt to repeal Obamacare, but none of it would have mattered without the votes of Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Susan Collins and the 48 non-Republicans in the Senate. While it’s a point that has been missed by a lot of the mainstream, plenty of folks are working to give the two Republican women the credit they deserve for what was a much more difficult vote.

In the past week, Murkowski has been the target of thinly veiled suggestions of violence by male Republicans in the House and the ham-fisted attempt by President Donald Trump—as delivered by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke—to shut down progress on a slew of key priorities in Alaska. The threat just looked small and petty, only solidifying Murkowski’s conviction and rallying the same folks who made her 2010 write-in campaign possible.

There’s rallies planned for Saturday throughout the state to keep up the pressure on health care.

It’s still unclear what will happen with those threats, but what’s clear is a lot of folks are questioning Sen. Dan Sullivan‘s hurry to run to the press to disclose them in the vaguest of fashion. “I tried to push back on behalf of all Alaskans” will make for interesting campaign material in 2020.

Murkowski did show she could play ball with Republicans on health care on matters that have a clear and pressing problem for Alaska. Though she voted against the hastily piece-together repeal efforts this week, she did vote in favor of repealing the Cadillac Tax. The tax was of particular concern because it would hit some high-cost plans with an additional tax, which might make sense for the Lower 48 but not for Alaska where health plans are expensive across the board.

Still, an excellent tweet

Still, the focus on McCain did produce this excellent wrestling-inspired tweet.


(I may have joked about this very thing earlier in the week.)

A delightful delay

Word is the event held for retired Anchorage Sen. Johnny Ellis held last week by the Rasmuson Foundation got off to a slightly late start. Folks didn’t mind, though, because the wait was because Alaska constitutional delegate Vic Fischer, 91, was picking up beloved former state Sen. Arliss Sturgulewski, who’s 89.

Also at the event, apparently Gov. Bill Walker praised Ellis for his time in office and recalled getting to know Anchorage icon over beers. The thing is, Ellis isn’t known to drink.

Absence noted

This week, Walker signed another critical piece of legislation to battle the opioid epidemic in Wasilla at the MY House center. House Bill 159 is one of the most significant steps forward in the state’s battling of opioid abuse, with provisions targeted at the prescription process.

The importance of the location was also symbolic because Mat-Su legislators have been crying bloody murder over opioid-fueled thefts and crime. The thing is, none bothered to show up for the bill signing.

Anchorage Democratic Rep. Ivy Spohnholz was the only legislator pictured at the signing.

Initiative questioned

Even though the initiative to rollback parts of Anchorage’s anti-discrimination laws was certified this week, a group of activists are still hoping to poke holes in the validity of the measure. It’s likely well beyond even calling it a long shot, but it shows just how fired up the opposition is to this initiative. (Also, at least some examples of signatures that have been provided to The Midnight Sun do look surprisingly similar to one another.)

Still, the initiative had more than enough signatures to hit the certification mark. Expect the bathroom initiative to be a big piece of next year’s Anchorage elections.

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