Lawmakers Preparing to Head Back to Juneau

There’s no word yet on whether a special session will be held next week to deal with the single issue of keeping the Coastal Management program alive. However Senate officials are meeting on Sunday to make a final decision. Lawmakers were instructed to proceed as if there will be a special session and were asked to make travel plans to be in Juneau on Monday, May 30th.

Nome Democrat, Sen. Donny Olson says he doesn’t think a special session would need to last longer than a couple of days, but first a deal needs to be worked out.

Olson expressed frustration at what he says were past promises by administration officials to fix the problem of a lack of input allowed by local communities into development in their area. It didn’t happen. He says a simple extension of the current program wouldn’t be satisfactory because there’s been plenty of time and lots of warning to the Governor that the coastal management program needed to be dealt with.

Olson says he thinks the Parnell administration is biased toward industry and isn’t concerned enough about local community input.

Gov. Parnell was not available for comment today but a statement he posted earlier this week on Facebook says in part that the Coastal Management bill became too weighted toward environmental concerns and not enough toward jobs and the economy. He wrote that employees with the ACMP program are currently looking for work elsewhere and the administration is exploring how Alaskans can participate in the federal permitting process.

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Lori Townsend is the news director and senior host for Alaska Public Media. You can send her program ideas for Talk of Alaska and Alaska Insight at ltownsend@alaskapublic.org or call 907-350-2058.