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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

“Alaska Government Accountability Act”

By Rep. Dan Ortiz


August 30, 2017
Wednesday AM

If legislators do not pass a budget within the regular legislative session, they should not receive legislative per diem during the subsequent special session. Alaskans for Integrity – a group founded by one independent lawmaker, one Democratic lawmaker and one Republican citizen –proposed a ballot initiative for 2018 that will raise legislative standards of financial transparency and accountability to the public. I support this initiative, known as the “Alaska Government Accountability Act.”

If approved by voters, this ballot initiative would end legislative per diem if the legislature does not pass a budget during the regular legislative session. The initiative would also prohibit lawmakers from accepting gifts and dinners from lobbyists. It would additionally strengthen Conflict of Interest rules for legislators and prohibit foreign-owned companies from financially supporting legislative candidates.

In my three years as your representative, I have voted to take action to reduce legislative per diem and advocated that legislators avoid stretching their work into overtime. I argued to cut legislative per diem by 15 percent. I co-signed a bill that would require legislators to work within the voter-approved timeframe of 90 days and remove per diem after those 90 days passed. I voted this year to reduce legislative per diem by 75 percent. Unfortunately, none of these measures have made it all the way to the Governor’s desk for his signature. This initiative allows Alaskan voters to control legislative per diem, questionable fringe benefits of lobbyist dinners and gifts, weak Conflict of Interest rules, and foreign campaign donations.

Losing per diem is a natural and fair consequence in the event that legislators fail to address the budget within the timeframe outlined by Alaska’s Constitution. The additional stipulations outlined in the proposal will hold legislators to a higher standard of governance. Alaskans deserve lawmakers who act in an honest, responsible, and trustworthy manner. I hope to see the “Alaska Government Accountability Act” approved by voters in 2018.

Rep. Dan Ortiz
Ketchikan, Alaska

About: Ortiz is an independent member of the Alaska House of Representatives, who has since 2015 represented the 36th District.

Was the text of this letter edited by the SitNews Editor: No


Received August 29, 2017 - Published August 30, 2017

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