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Alaskans denied chance to speak

Posted: March 19, 2014 - 3:19pm

I wrote the following to the senators on the Senate Finances Committee: “The Silencing Alaskans Act, House Bill 77, seems to be living up to its name. At the Homer LIO, 17 of 20 who intended to testify at a public hearing were not allowed to testify. When 85 percent of the people who attend a public hearing are not heard, something is wrong.  This is not a democracy.”

I attended a town hall meeting with Sen. Peter Micciche in Homer on Friday, March 7. He could not answer many questions about HB 77 because the amendments were not released until Monday, March 10. Forty-eight hours is not enough time to review a law that restricts the public to provide input to their legislators. Obviously, 1.5 hours was not enough time allowed for the public hearing. But, more than 150 people statewide found time to go to the hearing.

Reply from Sen. Cathy Giessel, chairperson: “Thanks for your message. It will be added to the bill file. There are NO Alaskans being prevented from testifying. You just did!! It’s as easy as an email.”

My reply to Sen. Giessel: “Many people speak better than they write, or aren’t comfortable with computers. To make it easier to destroy our salmon habitat and resources that create our Alaskan lifestyle — will the multinational corporations and outside  billionaires buy our government and resources owned by the people of Alaska — and totally eliminate public hearings? Looks like we are headed that way.”

It appears that dozens — or hundreds of Alaskans were prevented from testifying at public hearings — where the public was not heard.  

Kevin Walker

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