- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A Republican state lawmaker is working on a bill that would move the Alaska Legislature from Juneau to Anchorage.

Incoming Sen. Bill Stoltze, of Chugiak, has long supported moving the functions of state government from Juneau, a city accessible by air or water, to Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, located on the road system. Stoltze served for years in the Alaska House, including as a co-chair of the House Finance Committee.

He told KTUU this latest proposal simply would be to move the legislative session from Juneau to the new legislative building in Anchorage. It would not call for physically relocating the Capitol or shifting much of state government from Juneau.

He said the bill was being drafted, and a cost estimate had not been completed. He said the timing of having a new legislative building in Anchorage “coincides nicely to have the discussion.”

Fears associated with previous relocation efforts include the impact that would have on the economy of Juneau and fears of the state becoming too Anchorage-centric. The most populous region of Alaska is along the state’s Railbelt, from Anchorage to Fairbanks.

“Anytime you even mutter it under your breath, the public picks up on it,” Stoltze told KTUU Thursday (https://bit.ly/17mNToC ). “And the Capital City, they go to DEFCON alert. That’s probably why I’m doing an interview at 6:15 in the morning here.”

Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, had not reviewed the proposal but said he was wary of it, given the state’s financial situation. Alaska faces multibillion-dollar budget deficits, amid plunging oil prices.

“We passed it twice, to move the Legislature, but we also decided not to pay for it,” Stevens said. “It was just too much money, and at a time when we’re looking at a big deficit, it would still be very costly. I’d also be very concerned for the damage it would do to Juneau.”

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Information from: KTUU-TV, https://www.ktuu.com

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