Dunleavy taps Sean Parnell for gas line advice

Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy’s transition team will receive advice from former Republican Gov. Sean Parnell on a proposed gas pipeline.

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Gov.-elect Mike Dunleavy announces his transition policy council at the Security Aviation hangar in Anchorage. Nov. 9, 2018. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO and Alaska Public Media)

Gov. Bill Walker has made advancing a gas line one of his signature efforts. But it will be Walker’s predecessor that Dunleavy’s transition will be turning to as a special adviser on the project.

Transition chairman Tuckerman Babcock said Parnell is well-positioned for the work. He made the announcement at a press conference Friday in the hangar at Security Aviation in Anchorage.

“No one knows more about the project than the former governor,” Babcock said. “Sean Parnell, in his previous work on AK LNG (Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas), moved the project along to a point it had really never reached before. And he stands ready to evaluate where we are as we move forward and advise the governor-elect.”

Babcock also announced Dick Randolph will advise the transition on constitutional amendments. He led the effort to abolish Alaska’s income tax in 1980.

Dunleavy has supported guaranteeing permanent fund dividends in the constitution. And he’s suggested the state should limit revenue for state government in the constitution. He’s pointed to Colorado as a potential inspiration for an amendment. Colorado requires voter approval for any tax increases.

And Dunleavy wants to lower the spending limit in the state constitution.

Colorado also requires that voters approve any spending increases higher than the combination of population growth and inflation.

Dunleavy announced the transition policy council will have two co-chairman: John Moller, a Juneau commercial fisherman who was senior rural affairs advisor to Parnell, and Brett Huber, who managed his campaign and will be a senior policy advisor in the administration.

Moller said the transition will examine the role of the tribal advisory council formed by Walker. Moller noted that Dunleavy has proposed a rural sub-cabinet that could serve a similar objective.

Huber said Alaskans can provide their ideas about how to implement Dunleavy’s agenda.

“We’re already hearing comments from Alaskans as to how best to help put this plan in place,” Moller said.

Alaskans can submit their ideas through the transition website, governormikedunleavy.com.

The transition will not have separate teams working on each policy area like previous transitions have had, according to Babcock. Instead, the policy council will form separate advisory teams as needed. Babcock says the council’s role is to take the policy statements that Dunleavy made during the campaign and flesh them out for the commissioners of each state government department.

State Rep. Dan Saddler, whose term ends in January, will serve as the policy council’s executive director.

Dunleavy said much work needs to be done in the next three-and-a-half weeks.

“We have a very short window, a very short timeframe, to do this,” Dunleavy said.

Dunleavy will be sworn in on Dec. 3.

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.

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