Miller Still Concerned About Sealaska Bill
Fairbanks, Alaska. January 30, 2011 -- APRN recently reported that the Sealaska Lands Bill will be proposed again in the 112th Congress. SB 881, sponsored by Senator Murkowski in the last Congress (Rep. Young sponsored the House companion), was widely criticized as being a special interest boondoggle. It was one of the defining issues in the US Senate Republican primary election last August, and primary winner Joe Miller today expressed concern that the issues raised by critics of the bill may not be addressed. While Senator Murkowski has expressed a willingness to go back to the drawing board, Representative Don Young appears impervious to the fomenting discontent in Southeast Alaska over the legislation. Alaska's lone representative in the United States House has said he plans to introduce the bill again in its original version in spite of the controversy.
"It is encouraging that Senator Murkowski has agreed take another look at those portions of the bill that have stirred up so much controversy," said Miller. "Certainly everyone will not be happy with the final product, but hopefully most of the issues can be addressed. However, I am very concerned with the fact that Rep. Young apparently hasn't been listening. I hope he will follow Senator Murkowski's lead and take all of the interests of the region under advisement before putting his bill forward."
In the past election cycle, Miller called for a withdrawal of the bill on grounds that it had not been fully vetted. While he supports the resolution of ANCSA land claims, he believes it is equally important that lands chosen outside the original boundaries of the settlement be balanced against the competing interests of other residents of the region. "Due to the permanent nature of the claims, it is imperative that we get it right," Miller said. "I continue to support the transfer of public land into private hands, and it is gratifying that we may have been able to play a part in getting another hearing for folks who were feeling disenfranchised by the process. I hope there can be a compromise that all sides will be able to live with."