The license plate brouhaha takes a predictably repulsive turn: MEMO

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Good morning, Alaska! It’s the Day 8 of the 32nd Alaska Legislature, the governor’s virtual state of the state is set for Thursday and the House is still unorganized. 

Monday was a largely quiet day in Juneau while much of Alaska’s political attention seemed to be still tightly focused on whether it’s OK to call pro-Nazi license plates bad (it is) or whether the First Amendment will come crashing down if we don’t defend a person’s right to glorify Nazis on a state-issued license plate (it won’t). And, hey, it turns out that those 3REICH and FUHRER plates were actually recalled by the state and the police have been notified there are unauthorized plates being used. Just how they were issued in the first place is unanswered, but the state says they’re working to get to the bottom of it. Here’s the statement from the Department of Administration:

The aggrieved hand-wringing from Must Read Alaska and Assemblywoman Jamie Allard over the backlash to their preposterous defense of pro-Nazi language on a state-issued license plate has reached the level of self-parody. They’re once again the heroes in this story, the last brave defenders of free (pro-Nazi) speech and it’s really the “hateful Left at it once again because—even though, for the record, MRA “has no specific position on the 3REICH license plate”—“calling someone a Nazi is hate speech” and also, hey, would you consider chipping in a buck? 

The whole thing is as predictable as is it repulsive. 

For the final word on the whole sordid tale, I’ll point you toward this Medium piece from the guy who got this whole thing going in the first place Matt Tunseth: I (Still) Hate Alaska Nazis

“The First Amendment isn’t in jeopardy when we speak out to criticize abhorrent speech. Ideas are best fought with ideas, and as a former journalist I’m keenly aware of the need for everyone to have the right to be heard,” he writes. “But if you think I’m not going to speak back, if you think your hateful words won’t be met with contempt and ridicule, think again. Or for the first time, maybe. Because it was silence and complicity that allowed a fringe party of disaffected dipshits led by a loud-mouthed racist to plunge the world into the blackest period any person alive has ever known.”

DHSS split

The governor submitted a pair of executive orders to the Senate on Monday. One is the 106-page order that would split the Department of Health and Social Services into the Department of Health and Department of Family and Community Services and takes effect on July 1, 2021. The other would transfer the Violent Crimes Compensation Board from the Department of Administration to the Department of Public Safety and takes effect 60 days after it’s submitted “to the presiding officer of the first House of the 32nd Legislature to organize for business.” 

[Executive order 119, splitting DHSS]

[Executive order 120, moving the Violent Crimes Compensation Board]

While working on my morning coffee, I skimmed through the DHSS split order in hopes of finding a little more clarity on just what a split of DHSS would accomplish other than adding another layer of executives to the state payroll. At least right now, I’m not seeing it. It seems like much of the order just takes the existing language in state statute and splits it off into the Department of Family and Community Services. And while I was initially alarmed to see that corporal discipline made it on the list of approved parental rights in the section related to child welfare, it turns out “the right to exercise reasonable corporal discipline” is already in existing state statute. Neat.

The fact that this will all go into effect unless the Legislature steps in—at a time that the Legislature really can’t step in thanks to its lack of organization—is preposterous, especially considering the Herculean lifts that will be the budget and any other covid measure. But, hey, maybe that’s the point. 

The state of the House

Lt. Gov. Meyer, the presiding officer: “Ok, our only job today is to ask for nominations for speaker pro tem of the House. The floor is now open for nominations of speaker pro tem of the House.”

[10 seconds of silence]

Meyer: “Nominations is the only thing that I do up here. I guess we could do another prayer?”


Meyer: “Might not hurt. Might help actually. Do we have nominations? 

[5 seconds of silence]

Meyer: “Nominations for temporary speaker of the House? Speaker pro tem.” 

[Another 5 seconds of silence]

Meyer, looking through a room full of plexiglass dividers: “OK, I almost feel like I’m in a hockey rink here. It’s really hard to see so if anybody wants to speak, just stand up or shout out.”

[Another, shorter moment of silence]

Meyer: “It’s kinda wishful thinking here on my part. OK, Seeing and hearing no nominations, Rep. Thompson?”

Thompson: “Mr. Lieutenant Governor, I move and ask unanimous consent that the House stand in adjournment until Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 10 a.m.”

On the agenda

(There’s still quite a bit of moving around going on in the capitol as staffs get settled in their offices following the reorganization, so the lack of action is somewhat understandable if not a little frustrating.) 

Tuesday, Jan. 26

2:30 — Alaska Redistricting Board. It looks to be still largely organizational with discussions on policies related to public notice, meetings, public records, member compensation and travel per diem. 

3:30 — Senate State Affairs hears SB 39 by Mike Shower. Expect to hear a lot about election security and how many Alaskans are “deeply concerned” about election security. Fairbanks Democratic Sen. Scott Kawasaki, the committee’s lone Democrat whose insistence on a chairmanship of the LB&A gave rise to the Republican coalition, will have his work cut out for him.

From around the web

  • While Must Read Alaska and cronies cry cancel culture at people taking offense that they would defend pro-Nazi license plates, NY Mag’s Jonathan Chait has an excellent piece explaining the difference between government censorship (which is a First Amendment issue) and private citizens and companies simply not liking what you have to say and not supporting it (which is definitely not a First Amendment issue, except maybe when it comes to the associational rights of the people not thrilled with your content/incitement/enabling of Nazis). From NYMAG: Josh Hawley Believes Disliking Josh Hawley Is an Act of Censorship
  • Former Kotzebue Mayor Maija Katak Lukin has been promoted to a top regional job in the National Parks Service, where she’ll be working as the agency’s Native Relations Program Manager for the Alaska region. “Giving a seat at the table to Indigenous people and the people who live around national parks, monuments and preserves,” Lukin told KOTZ Radio’s Wesley Early. From KOTZ Radio: Former Kotzebue mayor selected to lead NPS Native Relations program for Alaska
  • This session’s Judiciary chair Sen. Lora Reinbold has spent the last year using Facebook to spread doubt and disinformation about the coronavirus and elections. Now, the GOP majority has given her a new platform. From the blog: Senate GOP puts covid, election denier Reinbold in charge of Judiciary committee

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