UPDATED: Monday, 7:30 a.m.: A bill which would make 20 Alaska Native languages official languages of the state of Alaska passed after 3 a.m. The vote was 17-2, with Sens. Pete Kelly and John Coghill voting against it. Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, was the bill’s prime sponsor. However, the education bill and the capital budget, which are linked, did not. The Senate adjourned at about 5 a.m. and will be back this afternoon to debate what’s remaining. Here’s ADN’s Rich Mauer explaining what happens next:
Under the deal reached by the House and Senate leaders, (Sen. Lesil) McGuire said, the House will immediately vote on whether to accept the Senate version. If the answer is no, as is likely, a House-Senate conference committee would be quickly convened. If the conference committee couldn’t resolve the difference — McGuire said the leaders expected the versions to be irreconcilable — the House and Senate would appoint a free conference committee, which would have more authority to craft a completely new version acceptable to both bodies. McGuire said the House was keeping the capital budget in its chamber and would use it as the vehicle to absorb whatever funding changes was called for in the education bill. If the conference committee version and the capital budget were accepted by House and Senate, the Legislature could wrap up and adjourn. That could happen Monday night, she said.
ORIGINAL STORY: Alaska Legislature went past the midnight deadline on Sunday to push the Legislature into an extended session, which, among other things, means that ballot measures legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage, and making it more difficult to mine in Bristol Bay will be moved from the August primary ballot to the general election. It’s unclear how long the Legislature will continue. They could gavel out on Monday. It could be days. According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, extending the session costs up to $30,000 a day.
At 11 p.m., the Senate concurred with the House on the operating budget, which all told, is $9.1 billion, made up of $5.8 billion in state general funds, $2 billion in federal funds and $1.3 billion in other funds. That one is heading to the governor for his signature. It also passed a bill that is supposed to advance the large diameter natural gas pipeline. Still at play early Monday morning was the capital budget, which will be upwards of $2.2 billion. Although it can get blurred, the operating budget generally funds the operation of state government, and the capital budget generally covers infrastructure.
Perhaps the bill with the largest constituency in the halls of Juneau was one which would make 20 Alaska Native languages official languages of the state of Alaska. On Sunday tribes from all across the state staged a sit-in waiting for the Senate to convene, which didn’t happen until 10 p.m. on Sunday night. That bill had yet to be voted on by Monday at 12:30 a.m., when the Senate called a 30 minute recess. APRN reporter Alexandra Gutierrez tweeted that she overheard one supporter in the gallery say, “What is wrong with these people?”
Moving the initiatives from the primary to the general ballot is said to be good for another referendum to repeal an oil tax break that was passed last session. The thinking is that those who would vote for marijuana and minimum wage would also be likely to vote to repeal the tax break. Conversely, some say that moving those initiatives to the general election benefits U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.
To bed now. More tomorrow.
Contact Amanda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org