Bad Bill of the Week: It’s a jungle out there…

This week’s Bad Bill of the Week comes to us from the Rules Committee Chair of the House, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux. By now you’re all familiar with our criteria for Bad Bill of the Week. If it doesn’t solve our financial situation or strengthen the private sector a piece of legislation is in the running for the title. Well, HB 200, Rep. LeDoux’s bill to revamp the primary election system in Alaska fits the criteria and takes the award this week.

The bill does a number of things, but the most interesting to Headlamp is adding a jungle primary. According to a jungle primary is defined as:

A primary election in which all candidates for elected office run in the same primary regardless of political party.

Also known as the “Nonpartisan Blanket Primary” or “Top Two Primary”, the top two candidates who receive the most votes advance to the next round, similar to a runoff election. However, there is no separate nomination process for candidates before the first round, and parties cannot narrow the field. In fact, it is entirely possible that two candidates of the same party could advance to the second round. For this reason, it’s not surprising that the parties haven’t rushed to embrace jungle primaries because they ultimately reduce their power.

Were this bill to become law, there are places in Alaska where a Democrat or a Republican might never make the general election ballot. One can imagine a scenario where two Mat-Su Valley conservatives are duking it out in November and more left-leaning citizens of that area wouldn’t be able to cast a ballot for a like-minded candidate. Who thinks this is a good idea? Why does Rep. LeDoux want to offer a way to silence voters?

Obviously Headlamp also takes issue with this bill because we still don’t believe the Legislature should spend any time working on legislation that doesn’t address our fiscal situation. This bill does nothing to improve our economy, end our recession or put Alaskans to work. Unfortunately, Rep. LeDoux doesn’t have a sponsor statement for this bill yet, but we’re certain it doesn’t move Alaska forward in any way. While we’re waiting for the sponsor statement, we’ll look up the definition of self-serving.

HB 200 is scheduled for a hearing next week in the House Judiciary Committee. With any luck, it won’t make it far.