It’s an idea that gets tossed around every few years — the possibility of moving the legislative session to Anchorage. A bill introduced by Wasilla representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard hopes to make that happen permanently.
Sullivan-Leonard introduced House Bill 185 Friday. She said the goal is to make it easier for members of the public to watch over legislative action, participate in hearings and meet with their lawmakers during session.
“My intent is to move the legislative process closer to the people,” Sullivan-Leonard said.
But Democratic leadership in the House disagrees that moving session would draw more of the public.
“We did have all of our special sessions in 2015 at the Legislative Information Office Downtown (in Anchorage). One session my aunt was there, she was the only one that was in the gallery,” said Majority Leader Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “She was there to see me in action, she wasn’t necessarily there to see policy and stuff.”
Sullivan-Leonard and some of her Republican colleagues have also suggested relocating as a way to cut back on per diem and travel expenses.
“If it’s in Anchorage, people on the road system, you know Fairbanks, the Peninsula area, Mat-Su, we can all convene in Anchorage,” Sullivan-Leonard said. “And with that I also believe that we’ll bring forward savings with regard to per diem, travel, lodging, what have you.”
Tuck added that he believes having legislators in Juneau keeps them more focused.
“A 90-day session’s like cramming for finals every night of the week, you can’t have any of those external distractions,” the Majority Leader said. “So, what’s nice about having a capital down in Juneau is that we’re all here, we’re all here to do one purpose, one business and that’s getting the people’s work done.”
HB 185 has been referred to two committees, including the House Finance committee. Co-chair Paul Seaton says he does not intend to pass the legislation.