By Rep. Mark Neuman
March 27, 2006
The bill is good for Alaska and good for the Southcentral region. In prior months, I have formulated a plan for legislative hall construction on Point MacKenzie, so that the Mat-Su can place a bid if HB 23 passes. Borough Manager John Duffy and I have identified a 1,000-acre plot that would be used for the site.
Under my plan, the borough would give the 1,000-acre parcel and its associated development rights to a developer willing to build a turnkey legislative hall. After construction of the new building, the developer would then be able to build subdivisions, hotels, restaurants and other commercial properties on the land, which includes two beautiful lakes. This plan costs nothing to the state or local taxpayers.
I want to be clear that building a new legislative hall in the Mat-Su does not mean moving the state capital out of Juneau. The governor, the courts and the administration would all remain in Juneau to carry out state business. Only the Legislature, during its four-month session, would be relocated to Point MacKenzie.
This would not have a severe economic impact on Southeast Alaska. The majority of state government business would still be conducted in Juneau, and almost all year-round state employees currently working in Juneau would stay there.
Moving the Legislature to the Mat-Su just makes sense. It would mean better access for Alaskans to their local representatives, and constituents would have a stronger voice in state politics. More than three-quarters of the state's population would be within driving distance of the Legislature, without having to drive through a foreign country.
Rural Alaskans would have greater access as well, and save money, because they would no longer have to fly to Anchorage and then take another flight down to Juneau just to make contact with their legislators. This way, they would only have to travel to Anchorage and then take a short trip - by car or ferry - to Point MacKenzie.
The majority of students in the state will have the ability to take field trips to the legislative hall so that they can see firsthand how ideas become public policy, learning the basics of civics and civic participation. Constituents can keep a closer eye on their elected representatives and make more informed decisions come Election Day.
The voices of average Alaskans will be heard louder during the legislative process. As a result, I believe we will see higher rates of citizen participation in the political process and higher voter turnout, because Alaskans will feel that their voice can make a difference.
Allowing a private developer to construct the hall and develop the area around it is a good economic policy. It will save the state millions of dollars in construction costs, and with the impending construction of a Knik Arm crossing and the initiation of ferry service in early 2007, my plan will save local taxpayers from the burden of funding the development of all infrastructure in the area. Moving the Legislature to the Mat-Su will mean commercial development, which would help relieve the tax burden from homeowners and create jobs for our community.
I urge you to join me in support
23 to allow communities like ours to bid on the construction
of a new legislative hall. It is a sound political and economic
decision for the state of Alaska.
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.