Bad Bill of the Week – HB 14 Politics over Process

This week’s Bad Bill of the Week lands on our desk for a myriad of reasons. Right out of the gate we can unequivocally say it does not solve our financial situation and it certainly doesn’t strengthen the private sector, in fact, HB 14 actually hurts it. Lest we forget that Alaska is in a recession.

Sponsored by Representative Andy Josephson, HB 14 would require legislative approval for certain large-scale mines. It politicizes a process that’s been in place for decades by allowing politicians to overrule the decisions of professional technical staff that work for the State of Alaska and the Federal government.

This legislation would add instability and uncertainty to the permitting process and make Alaska less attractive to investors. Thereby, further putting future investment and potential jobs at risk.

Rep. Josephson’s sponsor statement states:

“House Bill 14 sets a stringent requirement on legislative approval: proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest standard in the law, that there is no danger to fisheries in the region, an important commercial, subsistence, and recreational resource for the state.”

Which of our current elected officials have the technical knowledge to make such determinations? Headlamp can’t even identify five. It seems a bit presumptive, then, to think that a legislature with no technical expertise could correctly establish “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Finally, HB 14 is unconstitutional, due to the process it creates called a “legislative veto.” Legislative vetoes have been ruled unconstitutional by the Alaska Supreme Court many times.

This is a Bad Bill of the Week because it doesn’t solve our financial situation or strengthen the private sector. HB 14 will actually take time away from efforts to fix the budget. Now is not the time for bills like this. Then again, we’re not sure there should ever be a time for this bill.