Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Aren’t our legislators influenced by special interests? How does the average person have a chance?
  2. I want see my legislator whenever I want. How can I, if they are hidden down there in Juneau.
  3. Should the Legislature be moved?
  4. It can’t cost that much to move the Legislature – won’t it actually save money?
  5. Won’t we get better legislators to run for office if the Legislature is closer to the people?
  6. What is the true history of the capital related votes?
  7. How many times has a capital or legislative move been voted down?

 

  1. Aren’t our legislators influenced by special interests? How does the average person have a chance?
    Our polling shows that the majority of Alaskans prefer to contact their legislator by email, phone, teleconference, or letter. Most areas in the state have teleconference sites set up for legislative hearings. Most people don’t feel a need for face-to-face contact. But if they do, there are plenty of opportunities for it. Legislators visit their home districts regularly during the session and don’t forget, they are only scheduled to spend 90 days in session – the rest of the time they are in their home districts. The other reason most people don’t feel the need for face to face contact is that many of us are represented very well by various affinity groups, employer groups, or other organizations that have elected or designated officials that meet with legislators on a regular basis to make their views known. You can call them special interests – but we are talking about teachers, truck drivers, senior citizens, and small business owners, for example – just regular people. This system actually serves an important and useful function for legislators - allowing them to communicate with far more constituents that they would otherwise have the time to do. This makes the Legislature more efficient – not beholden to special interests.

  2. I want see my legislator whenever I want. How can I, if they are hidden down there in Juneau.
    Actually access to the Capital has never been better. Since 1994, when Alaskans last voted against moving the capital, the community of Juneau has significantly increased physical and electronic access to the capital. Most people don’t know this, but the community of Juneau has committed several million dollars in the last 10 years to fund various initiatives that improved access to the capital.
    • Sponsorship of Gavel-to-Gavel TV Coverage of the Legislature ($300,000 annually – CBJ is major sponsor – KTOO and corporate sponsors also help)
    • Internet streaming of the cable signal and all committee hearings (Cost approximately $150,000 to start (CBJ) and about $50,000 annually from KTOO)
    • Expanded and improved airport facilities and landing systems (Juneau and Alaska airlines teamed up to implement GPS approach and better airport)
    • And with Alaska Airlines – implementation of the popular constituent fare program during the Legislative Session (CBJ contribution $30,000 annually)

    The Community of Juneau also donated several buildings providing tens of thousands of square feet of office space to the Legislature with no strings attached. They have also provided funding for land for expansion, if necessary, in the future. This demonstrates, at the very least, Juneau’s commitment to being a responsible capital city.

  3. Should the Legislature be moved?
    Current proposals to move the Legislature disguise their real intent by talking about moving only the Legislature. But, this will eventually result in the entire capital being moved as well. There is no way to conduct government business efficiently when the Legislature is in one city and the other functions of government are in another. Don’t forget, what would move is an entire branch of state government – the Alaska State Legislature – that has 500 employees – and occupies hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space. This is a back door capital move since, inevitably, the rest of the capital will move with it. Move proponents say it will not cost much money. Yet a new building will need to be constructed and completely furnished and equipped. The operational costs will continue and be borne by the State - all while existing buildings in Juneau remain underutilized or abandoned. This idea is bad for voters and bad for Alaska.

  4. It can’t cost that much to move the Legislature – won’t it actually save money?
    This will be expensive. The last time Alaskans rejected the cost of a capital move, it was $2.8 billion. And that was over 20 years ago. Even moving the Alaska State Legislature – which would be the first phase of a capital move – would be expensive. Even if the building is provided, the cost of operating and maintaining the building will be substantial. In addition, the costs of infrastructure (additional sewer, streets, power, etc) along with the costs of moving all the employees and their families will be borne by the State. It is also likely that the State will also pay for equipping and furnishing any new building. In the meantime – the Capitol building in Juneau and other legislative facilities – which are completely paid for – would be mostly vacant. Add all these costs to the economic devastation the move would cost Juneau and the SE region of the State and you realize it doesn’t make sense to spend money we don’t have on something we don’t need.

  5. Won’t we get better legislators to run for office if the Legislature is closer to the people?
    Everyone should have a tremendous respect for anyone who is willing to run for elected office – whether it is the Legislature, the school board, local assembly, city council, or whatever it might be. It requires a tremendous dedication and commitment to serve. The reasons good people are willing to do it are sometimes very complex – but it isn’t related to where they serve. The truth is that the majority of capitals in this country are located away from major population centers and every two years, legislators are elected to serve in places like Salem, OR, Olympia, WA, Albany, NY, and Sacramento, CA. Somehow, those states don’t seem to think they need to move the legislature in order to get better legislators. Don't we have to question the depth of commitment of a potential candidate whose only reason for not running was the location of the capital?

  6. What is the true history of the capital related votes?

  7. How many times has a capital or legislative move been voted down?
    6 times in public votes since 1960. Click here for detailed history.