Back to work
Our local legislators returned to work in Juneau on Jan. 17. Here’s hoping this session goes a little more smoothly than the last, which was marred by constant bickering between rival factions in the House and Senate.
Legislators will give a lot of reasons for why things broke down in the previous session, and we’ve heard plenty of blame thrown around in recent weeks as our local delegation has prepared to head south.
At the heart of the rancor last session was a dispute about oil taxes. Some in government — led by Gov. Sean Parnell and including those in our local delegation — want to see oil taxes slashed as a way to spur more development. Others say such a move amounts to nothing more than a giveaway to producers and would cost the state dearly in revenues.
We support those who believe incentives should be given to producers. This state derives the vast majority of its income from petroleum extraction, and we need to keep the Trans Alaska Pipeline flowing in order to remain solvent. In order to do that, producers need to know exactly how much they’ll be paying, and they need a rate that won’t force them to look elsewhere in the near future.
That being said, one wonders if there may be some middle ground on which legislators can stand. Perhaps somewhere between the governor’s proposal and his opponents’ staunch opposition, there’s a bill that will ensure developers will find Alaska attractive to drill without “giving away the farm.”
Because of its vast stores of oil and gas, it’s likely the big oil producers aren’t going to pack up and go home overnight. It seems that developers do deserve a tax break — but perhaps not one as large as what the governor seeks.
Being able to work well with others is one of the most important traits a leader can show. In this legislative session, Alaska needs legislators who will put aside their desire to win some political game and instead do what’s best for the people they really work for.
It’s always good to be careful what you wish for, and the recent cold snap is a great example of that. After a winter’s worth of heavy snow and a seemingly endless stream of big, windy storms, many among us may have been wishing recently for a requiem from the constant precipitation. Well, we’ve got it — but in place of the snow we’re now enduring a prolonged period of sub-zero temperatures.
As of this writing (Tuesday, Jan. 17), the temperature here in Eagle River has remained below zero for five consecutive days, and the National Weather Service is predicting several more days of clear, cold conditions before things may warm up.
But with the chilly days and frigid nights has come the welcome blessing of some bright sunshine, which sure seems nice after all those days of gray skies.
While this winter’s extreme weather (it was well above 40 degrees above zero here just a week ago) may be unpredictable, it’s also a reminder of why we choose to live in such an environment. For one, the heavy snowfall has given outdoor recreation enthusiasts plenty to cheer about, and skis and sleds have been getting more than their fair share of use this winter. On the flip side, the cold conditions are a great excuse to bundle up indoors with family or friends or even just a good book or DVD.
One downfall of the freezing temperatures is an abundance of ice on our local parking lots. While this may seem like a minor nuisance to some, anyone who has injured themselves in a fall will tell you it’s no laughing matter. If you don’t already have a set of those grippy contraptions that fit over your shoes, now might be a good time to invest in a pair. They might look a little silly, but vanity is no excuse for not being safe.
If you’re not going to take that small safety step, here’s a tip we learned recently from an old-timer with knowledge of such things — While walking on ice, curl your toes. You’ll notice a world of difference.
Stay warm out there...