ANCHORAGE — The Alaska Legislature voted today to override former Gov. Sarah Palin's veto of federal economic stimulus money for energy cost relief.
The veto override required a vote of 75 percent of the Legislature, a hurdle that is rarely met. The override passed on a 45 to 14 vote — without a vote to spare. Supporters argued Palin badly overstated the "strings" attached to taking the money, and Alaska could use the assistance.
"Instead of being the last state in the union to take this money we should have been the first," said Bethel Democratic Sen. Lyman Hoffman. "We live in the coldest state in the union and we should be setting the standard in efficiencies and how energy is being used throughout this state."
About 150 anti-stimulus protestors showed up to try and convince the Legislature not to override Palin's stimulus veto. They rallied across the street from the Egan Center -- with signs like "Fed $=Tyranny" and "Override=You're fired." Others urging legislators to override the veto mixed in with their own signs like "Efficiency Makes Cents," and there was arguing between the two camps.
At one point, the anti-stimulus protestors marched a few blocks to the Dena'ina Center, where Alaska Democratic Sen. Mark Begich was speaking on health care to the chamber of commerce.
Palin vetoed the appropriation of $28 million in federal energy stimulus cash in May, two months before resigning as governor. Palin argued that accepting the money would require the state to "entice" local communities to adopt building codes.
She kept up her fight against the money by posting a message on her Facebook page Sunday.
"As governor, I did my utmost to warn our legislators that accepting stimulus funds will further tie Alaska to the federal government and chip away at Alaska's right to chart its own course. Enforcing the federal building code requirements, which Governor Parnell and future governors will be forced to adopt in order to accept these energy funds, will eventually cost the state more than it receives. There are clear ropes attached," she wrote.
The U.S. Department of Energy disputes Palin's characterization. The department's weatherization program manager sent Alaska lawmakers a letter last week seeking to reassure them that the Legislature "does not need to adopt, impose and enforce a statewide building code in order to qualify" for the energy stimulus cash.
Read the full story at adn.com.