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Published on NewsOK Modified: June 1, 2015 at 11:47 am •  Published: June 1, 2015

Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

May 30, 2015

Ketchikan Daily News: Active administration

Gov. Bill Walker's first few months on the job haven't been easy.

From plummeting oil prices to a Legislature whose leadership remains upset that Walker beat the incumbent, a host of circumstances worked to cut Walker's "honeymoon" in office very short indeed. It's been sink or swim from the start, and Walker's swimming.

Two things have stood out since inauguration day on Dec. 1.

The first is tone. Walker and his administration have maintained positive public communications, avoiding the bluster and snark — not to mention the whining and badgering — that might be tempting under the current political circumstances. Despite being new to statewide office, Walker has brought a sense of earnest maturity to the position, and it's being reflected in his administration.

The second aspect of note is Walker's willingness to go represent Alaska's interests in places that would prefer not to deal with Alaska.

One instance occurred in early May, when Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott went to British Columbia to meet with B.C., First Nations and mining industry officials regarding the mining activities on the Canadian side of the border that could affect transboundary rivers flowing into Alaska.

Canada's preference has been to rely on its own permitting processes for mines without input from Alaska, despite there being clear potential for Alaska to be affected by mine-related incidents on the Canadian side.

Mallott's visit to British Columbia rightfully emphasizes Alaska's interest in participating in the discussions for decisions that can affect its environment, people and economy. Sure, Alaska can send mailbags full of strongly worded letters, but it's much less easy for Canada to ignore the Alaska leader who's in their country, making the rounds, talking to people and making Alaska's case.

Walker himself headed down to Seattle this week to tour a Shell Arctic oil-exploration rig and talk with his Washington counterpart, Jay Inslee.

Inslee, along with the Seattle City Council and mayor, are opposing Shell's interest in basing its Arctic fleet in Seattle on the grounds that Arctic oil exploration could be harmful to the environment.

According to The Associated Press, Inslee told Walker that expanded Arctic drilling could damage both states. While that seems a parallel to Alaska's view of some of British Columbia's potential mining, Inslee's stated concern seems far more theoretical and intended as a show for specific constituencies in his home-state audience.

Rather than simply sit in Alaska, write a letter and issue a press release that nobody would read, Walker went to Washington state, talked to its governor, and presented his views. Inslee now knows that Alaska won't sit idly by while Washington state tries to do stuff that could negatively affect the 49th state. In addition, Walker's visit was covered by the media — raising Alaska's public profile as having an active role in Arctic oil exploration issues.

These things potentially bode well for Walker's tenure as governor.

While governance isn't all about maintaining grace under pressure and making your voice heard in unwelcoming places, they certainly help.

Ultimately, time will tell whether Walker's governorship is a success for Alaska and Alaskans. It's good to see some positive signs at this early stage.


May 27, 2015

Alaska Journal of Commerce: Dunleavy, accomplices are a disgrace on Erin's Law

Dysfunction has defined the 2015 Legislative session that will not die, and yet somehow a Wasilla senator — aided by his Republican colleagues from the Valley and Anchorage — managed to find a new low with his disgraceful attempt to gut the sexual abuse and assault education bill known as Erin's Law.

On May 19, Senate Education Committee Chair Mike Dunleavy introduced a substitute to House Bill 44, which passed 34-6 on April 18 during the regular session, that reverses the law's intent by removing the mandatory requirements for school districts to implement the K-12 curriculum designed to prevent sexual abuse and assault.

Further, Dunleavy's substitute bill would prohibit school districts from contracting for services for education on issues such as sexually transmitted diseases from organizations like Planned Parenthood that also provide abortions.

Dunleavy didn't pull this off alone, and committee members Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, and Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, should be ashamed of themselves, too, for helping to spike a bill that passed overwhelmingly in the House across party lines and that had passed the Senate unanimously in 2014.

Self-awareness is often lacking in those who seek to impose their personal values on others, but Dunleavy's bill is so hypocritical that it deserves its own entry in the dictionary.

Dunleavy clothes himself with the mantle of a champion of local control for school districts to decide whether to even offer the Erin's Law curriculum and then in the following paragraphs restricts who school districts may work with to develop that and other related curriculum.

By simultaneously requiring a local option while also restricting those options, it makes one wonder whether Dunleavy has the necessary equipment to experience cognitive dissonance.

That isn't to say Dunleavy isn't a smart guy. Just look at his Senate bio and he will tell you so himself. He just happens to be driving the Valley Values bus and it has a huge blind spot.

He's also reportedly considering a challenge to Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the 2016 Republican primary, and there's no better way to polish his bona fides with the Joe Miller wing of the party than to turn a noncontroversial, bipartisan bill into a battlefield in the culture wars.

Allowing a parental opt-out for their children is a reasonable measure agreed to by the bill's advocates, but the fact such language wasn't in the Senate version that passed last year is damning evidence that Dunleavy's act is nothing more than a political clown show.

In a state with the ignoble distinction of having the highest rates of sexual abuse and assault in the nation, allowing school districts to opt out of Erin's Law is like giving them the choice whether to offer math and science.

There are clear differences both practical and philosophical between Republicans and Democrats and the governor on the budget and Medicaid expansion. Where there has been very little separation, either in the House this year or the Senate in the last, is the support for Erin's Law.

The session isn't over yet, so the race for biggest disgrace isn't over, but suborning the will of overwhelming majorities to the fringe elements being courted by Dunleavy is easily the current clubhouse leader.