POLITICS
05/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Palin Skipping Town As Stimulus Showdown Looms

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has turned down a few invites to events around the country recently, citing her full-time job. But she's leaving town just as a battle over federal stimulus money comes to a head:

With just one week left before the Alaska Legislature adjourns for the year, the conflict between Gov. Sarah Palin and lawmakers over taking federal economic stimulus money is the dominant issue left. [...]

Palin herself will be leaving Alaska this week to attend the Vanderburgh County Right to Life dinner in Evansville, Ind. on Thursday, as well as an event for special-needs children. Fairbanks Republican Rep. Jay Ramras questioned her leaving town right at the end of the session, when critical decisions are being made.

"There are some concerns (in the Capitol) about the focus of our chief executive because she's taken a speaking engagement in Indiana for a 36-hour period with only 72 hours left in the legislative session," Ramras said.

Palin, who has barely left Alaska during the legislative session, is clearly irritated.

"I'll be gone for one day," Palin said. "I already have been on record with lawmakers on this. I told lawmakers, you know what, 'Please, don't make me feel that I have to ask you permission, lawmakers, to leave the capital city.'"

Legislators complain that even when Palin is around, she isn't very engaged.

Leaders in the Republican-dominated Legislature tell the Juneau Empire they're "baffled" at the Palin administration's failure to push even their own priorities. They say they have to push Palin's team to support bills they themselves sought.

Among the Republicans' biggest complaints: Palin is disengaged from the legislative process. There have been multiple complaints that Palin administration officials won't take positions on bills, including any indication about whether the governor is likely to sign bills that make it through the process. [...]

Rep. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, has been pushing a bill requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions. That's something Palin continues to identify as a top priority for the session, but when it came up before Stoltze's committee, no one from the administration was there to support the bill or answer questions.

"I can't explain their not even being in the room; that baffles me," Stoltze said. "This is supposedly a top administration priority."

Palin, for her part, denies any problems. "We have a very good working relationship, as far as we know, with lawmakers," she said Friday.

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