The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a federal land transfer to Alaska for a road between King Cove and Cold Bay, making progress in…
It has been an odd week in Alaska politics. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg came to the Last Frontier, learned our savage ways, and decided to educate the world about them (only to get a few details wrong). Then, with our endless legislative special session now set to focus on oil industry tax policy (HB 111), the Republican State Senate Majority, including Sen. Pete Kelly and Sen. Cathy Giessel, seemingly held a press conference to rail against cushy cash subsidies state government gives to oil companies. Wait, it was Republicans complaining about what a sweet, sweet deal the resource industry gets in Alaska? Democrats in the House Majority responded by holding a press conference of their own to point out some fine print in the GOP theater that makes the Senate plan much more oil friendly than they let on. Casey Reynolds and Forrest Dunbar sort through all of those political shenanigans, talk some healthcare and weed policy, and even bring in Alaska Tax Division Director Ken Alper to explain the fine points of oil tax policy at play in the HB 111 fight.
On our May 14 episode of Alaska’s most listened-to political podcast, Casey Reynolds and Forrest Dunbar discuss the hot political issues of the day– James Comey’s dismissal, the state budget, the legislative session as it careens towards overtime, the Real ID bill, and the censure of Rep. David Eastman. Casey and Forrest are also joined by a surprise guest this week. Former legislative staffer and UAA student Genevieve Mina tells us about her experience as a young person in Juneau during the legislative session. We greatly appreciate Genevieve being available on short notice, after an extended House floor session on Saturday prevented our previously-scheduled guest from making it on the program.
This idea of providing Alaskans a real choice on their relationship between their personal data and the government was at the heart of HB 74 as it made its way through the state house. Unfortunately, that choice was effectively stripped out of bill when the House Finance Committee overhauled the legislation on Tuesday by adding provisions mandating the DMV scan and store applicants’ pictures, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other personal documents, and share our personal information including up to 5 digits of our social security numbers with a private multi-state database as mandated by Real ID. This would be true for both Alaskans that opt into Real ID and those who don’t.
The legislative session shows no sign of ending anytime soon and those interested in running for Governor in 2018 can’t start raising money for another month, but that isn’t stopping speculation about whether the current occupant of the office, Governor Bill Walker, will run again and who might run against him.