The sponsor of a constitutional amendment to reconfigure the Judicial Council says he wants a vote on the bill, even if the outcome is not guaranteed to be favorable.
Sen. Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, has been trying to shore up support for Senate Joint Resolution 21 since Monday, when the measure was initially scheduled to appear on the Senate floor. A vote on a the amendment has since been delayed three times, because Kelly is shy the two-thirds approval needed for passage.
“If the rules are you can’t debate if you don’t have the 14, then not only is the issue struck down by one person, but the discussion about it,” says Kelly.
SJR 21 would make two major changes to the commission tasked with vetting and nominating judges. It would increase the number of political appointees on the Council, so that they would outnumber the attorney members two-to-one. It would also require the attorney members to be subject to confirmation by the Legislature. Kelly believes this will lead to more public oversight of the judiciary, while critics say it would politicize it.
It is extremely rare for the Legislature’s political leaders to let a measure come to a vote without knowing that its passage is guaranteed. Earlier this session, a constitutional amendment to allow the use of public funds at private schools was scheduled for a vote, but then pulled from consideration because of insufficient support.
- The U.S. Northern Command and Coast Guard have launched a major field-training exercise off Alaska’s northwest coast. Arctic Chinook is intended to demonstrate how local, state and federal agencies would respond to a simulated cruise ship accident. Coincidentally, a big luxury cruise ship will sail through the area while the exercise is under way. And to further complicate things, bad weather has just set in.
- Tom Morphet, the owner, publisher, reporter, editor and designer for the Chilkat Valley News, was certified Monday to run for Haines Borough Assembly.
- Southcentral Alaska has seen an increase in wasp activity this year. Mild winters are good for overwintering queens, and more queens means more nests come springtime.
- A Canadian company conducting exploration for a potential mine about 35 miles north of Haines was recently granted permission to grow its project.