Friday in the Sun (June 9, 2017): Senate’s income tax, 2018 races and a pot shop’s political history

Friday in the Sun is here

Speculating on rumors and gossip surrounding Alaska politics is a time-honored tradition, and who am I to say no. So as my predecessor said, it’s time for our weekly trip through the grand, gross, weird, wild and wonderful world of Alaska politics.

Cue the music: It’s a new Friday in the Sun, yes it is!

The Senate may have supported an income tax all along

It’s been a long simmering rumor as the session continues to miserably grind on: there’s enough or close-to-enough votes to pass some form of an income tax in the Senate.

This boiled over this week as Gov. Bill Walker announced the inclusion of an education head tax as part of his compromise deal. The fact the compromise was met with questions, not the hard-line opposition to taxes that has marked Sen. Pete Kelly’s tenure as Senate president should be telling enough. But word is the Senate came close to this more than a month and a half ago. That was before Kelly put his foot down and adopted a line that’s come to define the majority.

“The only thing standing between you and an income tax is the Senate,” he wrote in the ADN about, well, a month and a half ago.

The line may be more appropriately: The only thing standing between you and an income tax is Pete Kelly.

The exact makeup of whatever that proposal was and whether it really had the votes, or just the key votes to begin getting the ball rolling in the Senate Majority is unclear, but some are fuming.

Speaking of Kelly

If Kelly decides to run for reelection in 2018—there’s been talk that he might seek higher office, but there’s rumors about nearly every member of Senate leadership considering such a move—he might have more than one challenger.

In addition to the all-but-certain challenge from Rep. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, PJ Simon wants to get in as an independent. Simon is a board member on the Tanana Chiefs Conference and Doyon, Limited and chief of Allakaket (which isn’t in the district).

Simon had hoped to take on Kelly himself, but would have ran for House if he got Kawasaki’s endorsement. He didn’t (presumably that’s Borough Assemblywoman Kathryn Dodge) and now he’s currently gathering signatures to join the Senate fray. His possible entrance could make things difficult for everyone, but Kelly in the nicely redistricted, Republican-leaning seat.

Folks are trying to talk Simon out of it.

Speaking of Republican-leaning

Rumor has it that Alaska’s bastion of far-right Christian conservatism, Alaska Family Action, isn’t doing super hot financially. This comes on the heels of effectively scaring Republican legislators in line to vote against Alaska Human Rights Council appointee Drew Phoenix, who just so happens to be a transgender man, during confirmations this year.

Transgender men and women are also the target of Alaska Family Action’s latest effort to repeal Anchorage’s nondiscrimination ordinance. The far-right group has a plea out for volunteers.

Speaking of Anchorage

It sounds like today’s the last day in the office for Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s chief of staff, Susanne Fleek-Green. It doesn’t sound like there’s a replacement, yet.

Pot shop opens in recount shop

Juneau’s newest marijuana grower and dispensary opens up Saturday in a building that should be all too familiar to watchers of the 2010 elections. Green Elephant Gardens will call 101 Mill Street—south of Downtown Juneau—home. The building was the site of the 2010 recount between Lisa Murkowski and Joe Miller, where a hand recount of ballots sent Murkowski back to Washington, D.C.

There’ll be plenty more handling of papers at 101 Mill Street. It officially opens its doors 2 p.m. Saturday. Former reporter Jennifer Canfield owns Green Elephant Gardens.

Got more? 

As a long-time print reporter, I’m all new to this. If you’ve got something fun that you’d like to see in the Midnight Sun, track me down. If you’re in the know, you know where to find me.

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1 Comment on "Friday in the Sun (June 9, 2017): Senate’s income tax, 2018 races and a pot shop’s political history"

  1. Barbara Maier | June 11, 2017 at 9:22 pm | Reply

    I am a new listener to your podcast, having tuned in for the last 3 episodes. I like the areas you are covering and the show covers a lot of territory. My constructive feedback is such: there are NO female voices on your show, either as guests or commentators. What’s the reason for that. Also I get tired of listening to men talking over each other and continually interrupting before a point is made.

    I’ll keep listening and see if things change.

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