Alaska state Legislature works overtime

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.

In the Senate, the mammoth education bill still had to be voted on, and it appeared that a controversial bill to give tax subsidies to refineries was also still in play.

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.


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11 thoughts on “Alaska state Legislature works overtime

  1. Mae

    Move the legislative session to a dry community.

    Till then all legislators should be on a “no serve” list at Juneau local bars. While this won’t stop the drunk behavior, nor the devastating non-productive side effects of alcohol, it would be a start. With this policy in effect for a few sessions, I believe the non-productive elected officials will move on to more “toxic” pastures and others can get some work done.

  2. akmom

    Honestly, at this point, I am just grateful that the session ends at some point before more damage can be done.

  3. Lynn Willis

    Thanks. Twice a week I drive to Wasilla to volunteer. I always drive the old Glenn Highway to Peter’s Creek. In the morning groups of kids are waiting along the road for the school bus. I sometimes feel I should stop and apologize to those kids for what we will leave them as our legacy.

  4. Lynn Willis

    Alaskans don’t be so hard on yourselves. None of our most admired founding citizens of the nation or even of the state could function in today’s broken state government.
    We the people told them to finish in 90 days and they ignored that. Years ago we the people told them to build a gas line to Valdez to export LNG and they ignored that. We the people told them to open the government after 10% of them were indicted for corruption and they did that for everyone in government except themselves as they continue to turn off the microphones to openly legislate before us off the record or to meet in closed caucus. We the people told them in the Constitution to establish legislative rules of procedure which they did and then they ignore them at will most egregiously by granting defacto veto power to individual legislators to refuse to act on legislation with not even an explanation required,
    We are naked before them. The legislature refuses to investigate any of it’s members regardless of the appearance of corruption (e.g the LIO or tennis courts). Our appointed Attorney General does nothing to protect Alaskans. He is there to further an political agenda for himself and his friends. He won’t lift a finger if any effort were at all to affront the Governor who appointed him or members of his political party.
    The only power you have is to vote every few years and if you vote for any incumbent don’t expect anything to change.

  5. Shame on you

    To answer your question: I believe the Alaska legislature obviously thinks the Alaskan people are stupid, that is obvious as the people of Alaska seldom hold the legislature and the Governor’s feet to the fire. Start doing that and watch how these “dopes” will finish business within the allotted 90 day schedule.

  6. Brad

    Lesil McGuire had time to go to the Cabela’s grand opening. Stoltze had time to explore and announce his candidacy for State Senate in Palmer. Pruitt, Holmes, Legge, Parnell, Treadwell, etc. all had time to attend the SCI auction in Anchorage. My point is that there is so much waisted time during the first 87 days that it appears to me our legislators are more interested in meaningless bills, electioneering, and collecting more per diem than they are in getting the people’s work done. It’s all a big joke.

  7. JuneauLeak

    Ms. Coyne,
    When will you share the reason in which the Alaska State Senate didn’t meet until 7:00p.m. yesterday?
    I’m sure Mr. Ried was there to witness the behavior of the Rules Chairman or your connections can share the ugly details.
    I think the public should know.


  8. Bill

    “What is wrong with these people?” I concur

    They pretend they are so busy and important, they need to extend the session.

    Anyone watching this legislative session knows what a farce it was.

    They haven’t been vetting important studies to pass the pipeline bill or anything else.

    The federal government caught oil companies wasting hundreds of millions, but our legislature wants to give them billions of Alaska’s already dwindling wealth.

    They wasted all kinds of time,tried to pass stupid ass ALEC legislation, and yay the state gun bill.

    What a bunch of dopes.

    I just can’t tell, are they stupid, or do they think we are stupid?

    It is time for we the people, and the media of Alaska to start demanding real answers to what seems to be pretty freaking obvious corruption.

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