30th Legislature reconvenes this week for second session

The Olympics don’t start until February, but Juneau will host some opening ceremonies of its own as the second session of the 30th Alaska Legislature convenes at 1 p.m. Tuesday. As at the Olympics, there’s plenty happening.

Political fundraisers

Before the session opens, lawmakers and Gov. Bill Walker will hold one final round of fundraisers to benefit various campaigns for the 2018 election. Lawmakers and the governor are not allowed to raise money during the session. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, the House and Senate Democrats will host their fundraiser at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. At the same time, the House and Senate Republicans will meet at the Hangar Ballroom. On Seward Street, Walker’s campaign will host a fundraiser at the Rookery Cafe, also at the same time.

Budget hearings

The Senate Finance Committee will waste little time taking up the state budget when the session begins. Its first hearing will take place at 8 a.m. Wednesday in the Capitol with a presentation from Pat Pitney, director of the state Office of Management and Budget. At 9 a.m. Thursday, the committee will hear from David Teal, director of the nonpartisan Legislative Finance Division. In an analysis published last week, the division concluded that the state’s deficit will be approximately $2.5 billion. “While the magnitude of the deficit is smaller than the average for the past four years, the legislature no longer has the option it has exercised in the past,” the analysis states.

That no-longer-available option is using the state’s principal savings account, the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund.

In the House, the House Finance Committee will hear from Pitney at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. At 1:30 p.m. Friday, it will hear from the state’s revenue and tax directors and talk about the state’s revenue forecast.

Legislative reception

The City and Borough of Juneau’s annual Legislative Reception will take place at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Centennial Hall. Open to the public and free for all, the event offers a chance for Juneau residents to meet lawmakers from across the state while enjoying free food and drinks. Lawmakers also collect gift bags with offerings from local businesses.

Jobs creation

The Senate’s Labor and Commerce Committee will hear from the state departments of labor and commerce, among others, on job creation and economy-boosting ideas Wednesday and Thursday. The first hearing will take place at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, and the second will take place at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Both hearings will take place in Butrovich Room 205 of the Capitol.

Fisheries meeting (Update: This meeting has since been cancelled.)

At 10 a.m. Thursday, the House Fisheries Committee will hold a meeting about House Bill 199, which aims to impose new restrictions on development to protect salmon streams. The bill may be substantially similar to a proposed ballot measure, and if it becomes law, it could remove that ballot measure from this year’s election ballot.

Native Issues Forum

The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska will kick off its series of lunchtime lectures at noon Thursday with a talk featuring Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, Public Safety commissioner Walt Monegan and Tlingit and Haida Public Safety Manager Jason Wilson. The talk is part of the central council’s Native Issues Forum program, which will continue throughout the Legislative session.

State of the State

Gov. Bill Walker will deliver his annual State of the State message to lawmakers at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Capitol. Last year, the governor warned lawmakers that Alaska is in the “gravest financial crisis in state history.” This year, the situation is even worse, with the state’s principal savings account, the Constitutional Budget Reserve, expected to run out of money sometime in the next fiscal year unless the Legislature takes action.



• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.



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