If a new state plan for legislators isn’t formally rejected by the governor there will be fewer children at next year’s Easter Egg Hunt in the State Capitol Building. The annual event historically brings together children of legislators and legislative branch employees for a visit from the Easter Bunny and a chance to hunt for eggs. However, if it becomes cost-prohibitive for future legislators to bring children with them to Juneau, this year’s egg hunt may be the last.

Rep. David Eastman is joined by his family in Juneau.

Prior to COVID, my family has always traveled with me to the legislative session in Juneau. In years past we would have been one of many legislative families with children making the migration. More recently, we have been one of only a few. While moving twice a year isn’t any family’s ideal, the inconvenience has been worth it to us so that we can still be together as a family during the half of the year (or more) that the legislature is in session every year.

Unfortunately, since Juneau began its hopeless battle to eradicate COVID, the capital city has become somewhat less welcoming to visitors, including families like ours. Wasilla doesn’t have vaccine mandates, mask mandates, and the rest of it, Juneau does. Worse, even as Juneau is now gearing up for its first full cruise ship season since the pandemic began, state officials have now put forward a plan that will make it all but impossible for many legislators with young children to afford living together as a family during the legislative session.

My proposal is this: After 90 days, if legislators must meet, they should be required to meet some place other than the capital.

It’s probably safe to say that no one runs for office as a way to improve their physical health or as a way to help strengthen their marriage. Alcoholism is just one of many workplace hazards that legislators and their families are obliged to navigate. But while some hazards are common to all state legislatures, Alaska has made a number of decisions that have increased those hazards significantly.

During my first year in office the Alaska Legislature was in session for over seven months, all of it in Juneau. That’s unheard of in most states. Last year, the legislature was in session for even longer. Even with occasional trips home when you can get away, seven months out of the year is a long time for any family to be apart. There’s something about being able to sleep in the same bed as your spouse at night, and being able to tuck the kids into bed (most nights) even if it means taking a break between evening meetings at the capitol to do so. Despite the challenges of renting two houses, one in Wasilla and one in Juneau, it’s been worth it to us.

Alaska is the only government in the world that expects its legislators to maintain a residence in one location, but work on the other side of an international border, and in a city that can only be reached by air or water. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that Alaska has managed to create the most insular legislature of any state in the union. From the perspective of lobbyists in Juneau, it’s really quite the achievement. But it has come at the cost of thousands of Alaska voters feeling disconnected from their elected representatives, a limited pool of candidates willing and able to serve in the legislature, many legislators and staff separated from their families for months at a time, long legislative sessions, terrible policy decisions, and travel and lodging expenses for the 57 legislators who do not live in Juneau year-round.

Fewer candidates with younger families will mean a legislature less connected with the concerns of working families…

This week, the Alaska Legislature voted against allowing recommendations from the State Officers Compensation Commission (SOCC) to become law. In addition to salary increases for department heads, future legislators and the lieutenant governor, the proposal also included reducing travel and lodging expenses for legislative sessions beginning in 2023. While it called attention to the high expenses in Juneau, the commission was reticent to tackle the systemic problems which lead to those expenses every year. In short, it gave the legislature a good poke in the eye, but little else.

One member of the commission was candid in his general disapproval of policies that have lately been coming out of the legislature. As a conservative, and an outspoken opponent of many of those policies, I share in that disapproval. But the proposal goes further than that. If adopted, the proposal would have the immediate effect of making it even harder for those with young families to serve in elected office.

Fewer candidates with younger families will mean a legislature less connected with the concerns of working families and more likely to be populated by those who have already reached retirement before choosing to run for office. By increasing the personal daily expenses of serving as a legislator, less affluent legislators will be even more at the mercy of more affluent legislators who can already delay their ability to return to their homes and jobs at the end of session. This will hardly further the goal of better policies coming out of Juneau.

If having even just a few legislators with young families in Juneau is important to you, the recommendations of the State Officials Compensation Commission should be rejected by the governor and sent back to the drawing board. Instead, the commission should recommend that legislators be required to leave Juneau at the end of the 90-day session. My proposal is this: After 90 days, if legislators must meet, they should be required to meet some place other than the capital.

This non-negotiable change of scenery at the end of the 90th day will provide the necessary encouragement for legislators to get on the ball and honor the will of voters that regular sessions be limited to 90 days. If any business is so urgent that it justifies legislators reconvening after the change of scenery, a location in Anchorage or the Mat-Su is a logical choice and should be encouraged.

Legislators are only eligible to receive per diem when traveling more than 50 miles from their place of residence. As the majority of state legislators live within a 50-mile radius of the Anchorage Legislative Information Office, choosing to meet in that part of the state will immediately eliminate all per diem payments for most legislators, as well as any incentive for legislators to continue to remain in session after the 90th day. Perhaps most importantly, legislators will be more accessible to the people they serve. Also, as most legislators will be living with their families at home, the presence of family members should provide ample motivation for legislators to wrap things up expeditiously and turn their attention toward home at the first opportunity.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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Rep. Eastman: State plan would separate AK lawmakers from families

Rep. David Eastman
Rep. David Eastman is a Republican member of the Alaska House, representing District 10 in Wasilla. He has served since January 17, 2017.


  • Steve says:

    Didn’t we the people attempt numerous times to move the capitol closer to the people? Move the capitol and be done with this issue once and for all.

  • Neil DeWitt says:

    3 tim3s we voted on moving and it’s been ignored each time for money and space. Willow was the last place voted on but the GREEDY money people couldn’t buy up the kind and charge the state for it. Normal people like you and me bought land so Juneau spend hundreds of thousands to renovate the old buildings and convinced legislators that they couldn’t have their pages and prostitutes if it was moved to the road system.

  • Pamela Samash says:

    I was actually thinking about this very issue last week and how hard it is for legislators and their families. Even though I am not running for office, I thought to myself that I wouldn’t because I won’t leave my daughter. How sad that a person who wants to serve the people of their state has to endure this unnatural hardship. No wonder they get so influenced by lobbyists and forget why they ran to begin, they don’t have the connections anymore to their community and families. It’s just unacceptable. This Juneau location needs to move to where there’s access for all like all the other states.

  • John J Otness says:

    Oh my Goodness,,,How about if Dominion is not destroyed then we die as a Republic…No but the pagan Easter egg hunt draws top billing?
    Alaskas version of wag the dog……pathetic…. We are at War with evil

  • John otness says:

    Eastman you took an Oath as Soldier. You took an Oath as a Legislator.
    There will be no Eggs in a Communist. regime, Your fight is our Constitution and our VOTE!!!!! Most of these
    COWARDS in the Legislature do not have the guts to stand up for our Vote and keeping it legit.
    Have you joined their Ranks?

  • Mongo Love Candy says:

    I Concur with Rep. Eastman.

  • Terry Tiree says:

    Maybe mr Eastman should put family first by resigning.

  • Meister says:

    Fantastic solution! 90 days in Juneau, additional meetings/sessions on the road system. Sure could get behind this plan.

  • J. George says:

    If the elected members of the legislature did the job they were sent to Juneau to do during the session, we would not have this issue. If they can’t agree among themselves on a budget, then they should not profit by having the state pay for their families to join them in an extended session. I would be supportive if there was evidence demonstrating that this group is more productive with their families present.

  • MJ says:

    They aren’t expected to maintain 2 households. They get per diem for Juneau & it is SIGNIFICANT! It’s dumb that our capital is in Juneau but what we need to be asking is why the vast majority of legislators are so against moving IT- even if just for a special session. 2-words: PER DIEM. Way to fix it is also 2 words: TERM LIMITS

  • Jason Floyd says:

    I like the idea. How about striking a deal with the University to require anyone wanting per diem to have live in dormitory housing and be on the university meal plan? It’s already being used by outside groups for conferences and such. Why not use the resources we have and make the Legislators share similar accommodations we provide college kids? I bet the University budget will suddenly have an increase allocated for the purchase of real mattresses and a significant improvement in its cafeteria offerings. Take the glamor out of “serving” and I bet a whole lot of folks would choose not to run for legislative office and we would be left with those who truly serve out of civic pride and duty to their fellow Alaskans.

  • American tribe member says:

    Our state is vast and mostly inconvenient to access. We are free to choose where we call home, and most choose South Central. The only reason to continue with Juneau as our capitol is secrecy and proximity to Seattle / self serving lobbyists. Most of our current legislators have made a mockery of the entire process and it’s past time to end this charade. Move the capitol!

  • A. N. Gottschalk says:

    So John J. Otness thinks that Rep. David Eastman (Republican from Wasilla) is out to lead you down a “bunny trail?” But from the case that “West-Point” Eastman–the insurrectionist–makes for himself, you’d think that he has it all–hollow, chocolate bunnies, hard boiled eggs, and brightly colored jelly beans! It “don’t” get better than that with Lieutenant Colonel Putin’s Oath Keepers! (The “In-God-We-Trust” Oath Keepers have in effect been played as nothing more than flunkies for the Russia Federation.) And what does John J. Otness tout? Dominion! Dominion! Dominion! Otness himself is an absolute ignoramus for continuing to carry on the defamation of Dominion for Rudy Giuliani, Mike Lindell, and Sidney Powell. (Who does not know these clowns!) If Eastman and Otness can be considered among Alaska’s finest, we’ve hit rock bottom and are deserving to be the butt of Russian jokes about America! And there is no doubt, we’ve been played for simpletons!

  • Steve Peterson says:

    Ha ha ha! Insurrectionist, give me a break! Lovin’ the democrat Koolaid, huh? And by the way, the demented, election stealing Biden is the actual butt of all Russian jokes.

  • A. N. Gottschalk says:

    Listen up! Sleepy Joe is in the pocket of the credit-card and banking “industries.” Why do you think most Americans are paying exorbitant interest rates? Now don’t tell me Trump has redeeming qualities! This country is up for grabs! The millionaires and billionaires set the administrative agendas and play everybody else for field-hands! As Bob Dylan once wrote, “[T]he masters make the rules for the wise men and the fools.” So who can blame Lieutenant Colonel Putin for “playing America politics,” especially when there are so many flunkies to be had for nickels and dimes. Hilary Clinton had once tried to meddle in Russian affairs, but Putin out thought her! And look what happened when Putin backed Trump against her! It’s just a game! So, frankly, I don’t give a damn who you serve. As for myself, I don’t pack anybody’s luggage. If you need to be hospitable, good luck in schmoozing your way through life!

  • Robert A Schenker says:

    David Eastman,
    One thing you overlook is the fact that you have an office and a staff. This cost $ David. Just 45 years ago before oil $ no Legislator had such vanities. And yet those Legislators provided great service to the public. Call me, I will give you a historical perspective if you want .

  • John J Otness says:


  • Proud Alaskan says:

    Move the capital now, we voted to have it moved years ago
    Yes it’s all about the per-diem and hiding from its
    people/Alaska voters

  • John J Otness says:

    Wisconsin RepTim. Ramthun moved to de-certify the 2020 Presidential election, Alaska Cuck reps fault keep their oath…Treason.

  • John J Otness says:

    Fail to keep their oath not fault,,,,,CCP the gallows. You had your Chance to Speak.

  • Sharon says:

    I’m sure something can be figured out on keeping the legislature in the Valley or in Anchorage during sessions. Not for the convenience of the legislators but for the convenience of the people.