Story Last modified at 10:27 p.m. on Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Why is Reagan even on the Legislature's agenda?
This time of year, my inbox gets clogged with dozens upon dozens of daily updates on what's happening in Juneau. Depending on their content, I sometimes dread seeing all these e-mails, while at other times I'm encouraged. For the most part, I like to believe that our lawmakers are busy relaying our views and trying to do what's best for the communities they represent.
Take the past week, for instance. In just a few days, I've received information on the following action:
Senate Bill 33, honoring fallen service members, sponsored by Sen. Bill Wielechowski;
Senate Bill 85, sponsored by Senators Wagoner, Stevens, McGuire, Huggins, Dyson, Giessel and Menard and if passed, would provide tax credits for developing new oil and gas production;
Senate Bill 17, the "Spice" bill, which would make synthetic marijuana-like "herbs" known as "Spice" or "K2" a controlled substance; and
House Joint Resolution 13, which honors president Ronald Reagan on the 100th anniversary of his birth.
I skidded to a stop on that last one.
House Joint Resolution 13, passed unanimously by the House last week, honors the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan, who was born Feb. 6, 1911. House Concurrent Resolution 13, passed by the House this week, requests that an Alaska landmark be named after Reagan.
Both measures were introduced by Chugiak's own Bill Stoltze, a Republican representative who was first elected to the Alaska Legislature in 2002, and who by all accounts has represented our community well and is a genuinely nice guy.
But, seriously? Really? Are we really spending our time on this?
I'm sorry, I'm no Ronald Reagan expert, but did our 40th president/former Hollywood movie star/33rd governor of California have any real and meaningful connection to Alaska other than perhaps laying over in Air Force One at some time or another or dropping in to the UAF campus?
Did Reagan have family here? Were his forebears gold prospectors? Dog mushers? Constitution crafters? Was this his favorite vacation place, and did Alaska to Reagan represent some way of life that he wished he had lived?
I can understand legislation honoring such Alaskans as Sen. Ted Stevens or Alaska Gov. Wally Hickel or the fallen service members Wielechowski is aiming at. And I recognize that Reagan was a very popular president. But the conservative icon Reagan really has no place at that same table.
HJR 13 is, according to the State House, ceremonial, and costs no money. But HCR 13 calls for a landmark to be named for Reagan. Will that be here, in Stoltze's home territory? How much will it cost? How much time, in hours, did this measure cost? Just to introduce this resolution make copies of it, move it forward within the legislative branches and record it as public record took time on someone's part. That's time that could be better spent on relevant state work.
Stoltze has much more important work to do, and I'm confident that he, like the rest of our local legislators, will do it.
Let's just leave the pointless honors to California's lawmakers.
This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, February 9, 2011.