A Snapshot of Sarah Palin’s Domestic Governing Experience
A review of Sarah Palin’s administrative orders (what many other states call “executive orders”) shows action taken on a range of statewide issues. In two years as Governor of Alaska, she has implemented policies in areas ranging from healthcare reform to housing policy to mental health reform to energy production. Here are the highlights.
Very soon after taking office, Governor Palin issued Administrative Order 232 (February 15, 2007), establishing the Alaska Health Care Strategies Planning Council and giving it a broad mandate to create an action plan. By the end of 2007, the Council had reported back with an extensive set of proposals; Governor Palin had obviously selected commissioners who weren’t afraid of detail. The first area the commission focused on — even coming up with some proposals that are economically rational — was lowering costs…
- Increase the place of consumerism in health care purchasing by giving people control over their health care dollar – the foundations are accessible, transparent, evidence-based price/quality information about providers and services (short-term).
- Create an easily accessible and constantly updated website containing evidence-based price and quality information about health care providers and services (short-term)
- Increase community-based health care services, both public and private sector
- Stabilize the costs of health care by reducing the rate of increase relative to other states (national increase is 6%, decrease Alaskan rate to 4% annual increase)
Following the release of the report, Governor Palin introduced legislation to begin implementing of the recommendations. To facilitate an increase in community-based health services, she has proposed repealing Alaka’s certificate-of-need (CON) program, which prohibits new health care facilities from being constructed unless the government determines that there is a “need” for a new facility in a given area. To make costs and prices more transparent, Governor Palin has proposed requiring that all health care facilities in Alaska make accurate and updated lists of the costs of their procedures available to the public. The Governor explains her initial legislation here, in an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News.
In response to the discovery of unexpected corrosion in Alaska’s oil-pipeline system, Governor Palin issued Administrative Order 234 (April 18, 2007), creating a Petroleum Systems Integrity Office to monitor and coordinate the maintenance of Alaska’s oil infrastructure. The office was up and running quickly enough so that by July 6 of 2007, the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office Coordinator was the go-to person when the U.S House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce wanted detailed answers to questions on dangers to pipelines, for example…
1. Does the build-up of sediment in a pipeline send up a red flag, since bacteria can flourish under sediment and lead to aggressive microbial corrosion?
Yes. Sediment in a pipeline can cause or contribute to problems, including providing an environment in which corrosion-causing bacteria can grow, creating difficulties with intelligent pigging, and blocking of corrosion inhibitor interface with the pipe wall. The presence of sediment is therefore a red flag for consideration of these issues, and generally calls for measures to remove it and to prevent its build-up.
In the area of housing policy, Governor Palin issued Administrative Order 236 (May 1, 2007), continuing the work of a commission created in 2004 by former Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski. The major recommendation from Murkowski’s commission had been the creation of a housing trust fund to assist people in need, but he never implemented it. Palin proposed $10 million dollars in her 2009 budget, to be overseen by a new body created through the administrative order, to be used to jump-start the trust fund. Her actions won plaudits from Alaska’s housing advocates.
The Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet was created by Governor Palin through Administrative Order 238 (September 14, 2007). Among the areas where the sub-cabinet is to develop recommendations on are…
- The assembly of scientific research, modeling, and mapping information in ways that will help the public and policymakers understand the actual and projected effects of climate change in Alaska, including the time frames in which those effects are likely to take place.
- The prioritization of climate change research in Alaska to best meet the needs of the public and policymakers.
- The policies and measures to reduce the likelihood or magnitude of damage to infrastructure in Alaska from the effects of climate change.
- The potential benefits of Alaska participating in regional, national, and international climate policy agreements and greenhouse gas registries.
- The opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Alaska sources, including the expanded use of alternative fuels, energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, land use management, and transportation planning.
Finally, Governor Palin reshuffled the governing board of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, “the only public inpatient psychiatric hospital” in Alaska, through Administrative Order 241 (July 1, 2008). What’s interesting about this reshuffle is who the Governor added to the board…
Six members representing the general public; members appointed under this paragraph must be or have been consumers of behavioral health services and have been diagnosed with one of the mental disorders [defined elsewhere in law].…or, as the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services described it…
The Alaska Psychiatric Institute is forming a new advisory board with a unique feature: at least seven seats will be held by people who have used the state’s mental health services.Let’s cut to the chase now. Did Barack Obama get so many changes underway as a community organizer? How about as a United States Senator?
The new board will focus on patient rights and responsibilities, as well as continuing the transformation of the hospital to a recovery-based organization. “To accomplish this, we need — at the table — the very people we serve,” API Chief Executive Officer Ron Adler said.