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Gavel Alaska Brings Legislative Coverage to New Heights

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If you don’t follow Gavel Alaska, you really should.

Gavel Alaska is a service provided by Juneau’s public television station, KTOO-TV, linking Alaskans statewide to the inner workings of the state legislature. Committee meetings, floor sessions, luncheons, addresses, speeches; if one wishes to understand what is happening during session and can’t afford to camp in Juneau for the ninety-day session, Gavel is the entity that saves the day, everyday.

This session, Gavel Alaska Producer Jeremy Hsieh has improved coverage by offering daily briefs, summarizing current legislative activity and highlighting upcoming hearings of import and/or interest. The four-to-five minute videos untangle the web that is the legislative calendar from January 15 to April 20 (and hopefully nothing after).

This past weekend, Hsieh may have unintentionally laid the gauntlet for future “Gavel Alaska Rundown” videos. The March 22 rundown detailed day 63 of the session, including the gasline bill, the education bill, the Exxon Valdez 25th Anniversary, a breast feeding bill, alongside other current pending legislation, and was filmed “on a moving ski lift chair, because it’s Saturday and sunny.”

Because when the sun comes out after an Alaska winter — even one as mild as this year’s — no job should serve as a barrier between an Alaskan and a beautiful day.

Hsieh’s awesomely elevated broadcast made me wonder if this should become the rule rather than the exception. After all, NBC has struck gimmicky ratings gold with their 13 year run of “Where in the World is Matt Lauer,” in which the network’s Today show threw Lauer in a plane and left audiences anticipating where he might surface with a microphone and his trademark style. The segment spanned the globe, featuring transmissions from Cairo to Mount Everest, Machu Picchu to Monte Carlo, Pisa to Botswana.

And all Matt Lauer has to do on a daily basis is smile and stare at Savannah Guthrie. Surely Hsieh, who’s daily routine consists of calmly disseminating all the insanity and ugliness of Alaska politics in easily digestible cliffnotes for us to understand, could use a bit more time away from the capitol.

So, why not make it a running feature?

Gavel watchers could consume daily session roundups from Hsieh while he relaxes in the Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. What better way to detach from the rigors of dumping zones legislation then taking a dip in a nice geothermal spa on the Reykjanes Peninsula? (h/t Alex Stein)

hsieh-bluelagoon-iceland

The 739th hearing on HB77 got you down? Soak in that rigidly-enforced two-minute testimony while relaxing on the white beaches of Tahiti. It’s a magical place. (h/t Andrew Sheeler)

hsieh-tahiti

Or, let’s give him the number one best treatment for session: a nice, long nap on giant pile of puppies. A little cuddle time can help anyone get through one more senate floor session. And we already know the good folks at 360North.org have a thing for puppies. As should we all.

hsieh-puppypile

And if all else fails, maybe we should just send the legislators off for a committee meeting on the slopes. Some fresh air, the wind soaring through their hair (of those who still have any), the sound of the last fresh powder of the year slicing underneath skis and snowboards — it might just be exactly what lawmakers need.

legislative ski day

Stay tuned to all the action and insanely helpful breakdowns by following GavelAlaska on facebook, twitter, and youtube, and make sure to always keep their homepage bookmarked. As the legislature heads closer and closer to the end of session, we’re going to need all the help we can get understanding the rush to the final gavel. Oh, and maybe consider adopting a puppy, just in case. You can vacation in Tahiti together after the final bell. You’ll thank us later.

(And, seriously, kudos Gavel team. That was awesome.)

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