Friday in the Sun (July 7, 2017)

Friday in the Sun is here

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.

Blank letters of intent galore

When Rep. Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, filed a blank letter of intent for the 2018 elections it set off speculation that he’s running for Senate District A (though it was more like letting the cat out of the bag). Now plenty of Scott’s colleagues are following suit and have filed blank letters of intent with the Alaska Political Offices Commission for next year’s elections. These are the documents that allow candidates begin fundraising, and it’s not entirely uncommon to leave the specific office blank. Still, let’s have some fun and speculate about what each filing may mean.

There’s Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, who’d also be eligible to run for Senate District A. There’s a ton of speculation about what Senate President Pete Kelly, who currently holds the seat, will do next. Some say he’s running for governor, others say he’s not and others say he might not be running at all. It’s likely a decision Kelly hasn’t made, yet. Everyone’s keeping their options open.

Speaking of Senators with uncertain futures and possible higher aspirations, Republican representatives in Sens. Anna MacKinnon and Mike Dunleavy‘s districts have also filed blank letters of intent. There’s Rep. Dan Saddler in MacKinnon’s district and Rep. George Rauscher is in Dunleavy’s district. Of the two senators, Dunleavy has been pretty obvious in his positioning for a governor’s run. But if either senator decides to call it quits on the Legislature, don’t expect an easy run for Saddler or Rauscher. We’d expect Rep. Lora Reinbold dive into a primary for MacKinnon’s seat and Rep. David Eastman try for Dunleavy’s seat.

There’s also Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux and Dean Westlake who filed open letters of intent, but they both filed blank letters of intent in 2016.

Incumbent House members that are content to stick with the House are Reps. Chuck Kopp and Paul Seaton.

Facebook not feeling it

While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in Alaska over the weekend—extolling the virtues of universal basic income as not really displayed by PFD—his company was shutting down the pages of Alaska’s marijuana businesses. Shops throughout the state were shutdown. Fairbanks-based Pakalolo’s Twitter account—which is still around—said the company tried to appeal the closure but had no success.


Bipartisan warnings

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski may get her hope to bring in Democrats on a health care bill. The Associated Press is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is warning that he’ll have to work with Democrats on a limited bill if the Republican-only repeal bill fail. Don’t get your hopes up, though, the same warning was floated early on in the House process only for moderate Republicans to come on board for a few extra billion dollars. There’s already talk of keeping some Obamacare taxes to add in spending like additional opioid treatment to win over those on the fence.

Job change

Erin Shine, a well-respected legislative aide who recently worked in Sen. Anna MacKinnon’s office, is now special assistant to the well-respected Health and Social Services Commissioner Val Davidson. Congratulations on the move.

The House

In another set of unsurprising news, the House Majority has at least a few dissenting members when it comes to the Senate proposal on House Bill 111. A few think the proposal, when taken hand in hand with the oh-so-exhilarating policy of ring fencing, isn’t that bad. As much as the House has made an issue over the matter of deductions, the more business-minded folks see it as a sound way of treating businesses. It’s still not likely to change the overall House Majority position that tax changes should be part of the plan. We’ll see how things play out next week.

There’s also a lot of back and forth over whether or not negotiations on HB 111 were actually ongoing or not. It likely depends on your definition of negotiations, but suffice it to say the House’s definition is more broad.

Also, apparently the House Majority isn’t interested in taking questions from “bloggers.” Wonder who they’re worried about.

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