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PUBLISHED: 1:15 PM on Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Speak your mind when it counts

Alaskans love to speak their mind.

Yet sometimes we seem to talk more than act, at least when it comes to voting.

In the last municipal election in Juneau only a third of registered voters cast ballots.

Speak your mind when it counts-by voting Nov. 7.

I don't think it's this newspaper's job to tell you how to think. We do try to let you know important things that are happening, and interesting stories about people, throughout Southeast Alaska.

But I will tell you how I intend to vote, which is no on both ballot measures.

Ballot measure one, to shorten the length of the Legislature each year by a month, is not necessarily a bad idea, but it is not the answer to get more for the citizens from the Legislature. Less time means less study and debate for any one issue, more dependency on information from lobbyists.

And, more likely, additional special sessions to resolve key legislation. With 121-day sessions the last 21 years, the Legislature has still been called back for at least one special session each year.

The real answer is finding a way to get more done early in the session, instead of a last- month rush, but that's a topic for another time.

Ballot measure two would tax oil and gas leases in Alaska until a natural gas pipeline is built and gas is being delivered to market. An oil company not willing to pay the tax could surrender its oil leases.

It's essentially a gun at the head of tax oil companies to get serious about developing those gas fields now.

But businesses, even entities as large as oil companies, do what's in their best interest. Making it more difficult to do business in Alaska hardly seems the way to encourage them to do the right thing.

It is time for the state to get serious about developing our natural gas resources and building a gas pipeline. And the Legislature does need to be aggressive and assertive to ensure Alaska gets its fair share of revenue from our state's natural resources, including minerals, timber and fishing - not just oil and gas.

But this ballot measure is not the way to do it.

That's my opinion and the way I'll vote. Whether you agree or not, it's up to you to step up and vote on Nov. 7.

Leschper is general manager of the Capital City Weekly, advertising director of the Juneau Empire and regional advertising director for Morris Communications / Alaska. Email him at lee.leschper@juneauempire.com.


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