However, a January 25th Anchorage Daily News letter to the editor by Homer resident Kim Smith (scroll down to the last letter) may illustrate one reason why the legislature finds it difficult to conclude its business during a 90-day session. In part, Kim Smith writes:
"Perhaps looking at the bills introduced so far could shed light on this need. HB 19 would create American flag license plates that say 'In God We Trust'; HB 92 would create Lao veterans license plates; SB 2 would create National Rifle Association license plates; SB 16 would create Choose Life license plates".
Let's take this one step further and post the links to the bills, as well as identify their sponsors:
-- HB19; Reps. Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage), Wes Keller (R-Wasilla), Carl Gatto (R-Palmer)
-- HB92; Reps. Pete Peterson (D-Anchorage), Max Gruenberg (D-Anchorage)
-- SB2; Senators Linda Menard (R-Wasilla), Charlie Huggins (R-Wasilla), Tom Wagoner (R-Kenai), Fred Dyson (R-Eagle River), Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage), Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage)
-- SB16; Senators Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage), Fred Dyson (R-Eagle River), Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage)
These are frivolous bills. Those who advocate for the respective causes could easily get their own bumper stickers and attach them to their vehicles rather than waste legislative time pushing for more a la carte license plates. Particularly frivolous is the bill for Lao veteran license plates; since Lao veterans can already get normal veterans plates, why would they need a separate plate just to advertise that they are also Lao veterans? The term "veteran" is all-inclusive and self-explanatory; their ethnicity should be irrelevant to their service. Besides, just how many Lao veterans can there be in Alaska?
Perhaps another way to approach this issue is to pass one bill which establishes an administrative procedure to get new a la carte license plates in the future. Instead of involving the legislature, a person would submit a request, along with a design sketch, to the DMV for consideration and approval.
Note that these lawmakers aren't exactly lemons. Most of them are dedicated to serving their constituencies to the best of their ability. In particular, Sen. Fred Dyson earned the supreme tribute of attracting no opposition the last time he ran for office, which is a strong indication of public satisfaction. Yet this shows that not even the best of the bunch is immune from the temptation of loading up the docket with frivolous, feelgood legislation.
The 90-day limit was established by popular initiative (05LEGS) in 2006. Voters approved it in the November 2006 general election by a 117,675 to 113,832 vote; it became effective in January 2008.
If the state legislature wants to make an effective case for a longer session, they must first use the 90 days currently allotted more wisely and efficiently. Contact information for state lawmakers during the session available HERE.