Friday, March 14, 2014

Cathy Giessel to Alaskans: Shut Up and Go Away!

HB 77, the the unsuccessful pro-development, anti-public input legislation sponsored by Gov Parnell last year is back in revision this year. Cathy Giessel, who partially represents the northern Kenai Peninsula and the chairperson of the senate Finance Committee, cut off testimony on Wednesday and prevented other committee members from asking questions to those speaking for or against the bill. Well, there were only two who had anything to say in favor of the bill, both representatives of the mining industry.

Everyone else spoke against the bill, despite the revisions that have done little to placate fears that HB 77 would give the DNR broad and unchallenged powers and take away the public hearing process for green-lighted development.

Giessel did re-think restricting testimony and opened up another public testimony session today.

HB 77 has singularly united citizens of all political persuasions - not many of us would like to give bureaucrats in the state over-reach powers. Not many of us want to give away our right to be heard. Not many of us are fooled by the intent of this bill, which is to fast-track dams and destructive mining practices in critical salmon habitat areas. Representatives Kurt Olson and Mike Chenault have backed this legislation 100% since its inception last session.

Senator Peter Micciche wasn't convinced last year and his lack of support was helpful in keeping the bill from passing back then. However, in an email published by the Peninsula Clarion, Micciche stated “My goal is to work with folks and to give them the chance to digest the actual changes, as opposed to the incorrect and exaggerated effects claimed by extreme Anchorage environmental groups with an obvious anti-development-of-any-kind agenda.”

I wonder if Peter considers all environmental groups to be 'extreme'?  And because someone might disagree with Micciche, does that make them incorrect? In my experience, that's exactly his attitude.

Paul Zimmerman of Kenai had this question during his testimony:  "More and more legislation and proposals are coming up that are designed to take the public out of the process and this is another step,” he said. “Our state constitution was founded on ideals of public participation in their government. Whose interests is (Micciche) serving if he’s not serving the public? This is un-American."
The new version of HB 77 is as odious as the previous version, we shall soon see how the legislature votes on this.

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