Summary: Lawmakers wrapped up fairly quickly and the Senate is set to reconvene at 5 p.m. Committee members voted to approve sending the bill to the next relevant committee.
After having gone through each of the governor’s RPL proposals, committee members are now taking public comment.
The first call is from Northwest Arctic Borough Mayor Lucy Nelson.
COVID-19 was “a new type of disaster to us,” Nelson said. “Northwest Arctic Borough has had to cover un-anticipated and un-budgeted items in response to the pandemic.”
Nelson said so far her borough has no COVID-19 cases, but has had trouble purchasing even basic cleaning supplies like hand sanitizer.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, is asking Office of Management and Budget Director Neil Steininger how exactly the state determined how federal funds would be allocated to communities. There are communities with very small populations which are receiving larger distributions than more populace cities, Wielechowski said.
”Distribution isn’t based entirely on population,” Steininger said. ” It’s important to know that these are things that evolve over time.”
The state’s distributions reflected what OMB felt was the most impactful amount given the information they had at the time the decision was made.
The Committee is now hearing from Legislative Finance Director Pat Pitney who is walking through the governor’s revised program legislative, or RPL, requests process.
Dunleavy submitted 15 RPLs worth roughly $1.5 billion in federal relief money to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee earlier this month.
After some revisions the committee approved the governor’s proposals but that allocation method was challenged in court forcing lawmakers back to Juneau. Pitney is now taking questions from Committee members about how funds in the various RPLs can be used.
The Senate Finance Committee has gaveled in with only one item on the calender for the day.
Committee co-chair Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, begins with a few protocol issues. While lawmakers are being asked to wear masks while in the building, Stedman says it will be up to the individual lawmakers to decide if they want wear masks during the meeting.
The committee’s table, Stedman said, gave lawmakers some room in between on another.
Lawmakers are back in Juneau and wasting no time in getting down to business. The Senate has already met and is recessed to the call of the chair, and the House is recessed to Tuesday at 9 a.m.. The bodies need to meet briefly to refer the bills crafted over the weekend to address the governor’s expenditures to relevant committees.
The Senate Finance Committee will be meeting at 3 p.m., and the House Rules Committee will meet at 3:05 p.m.
Both committees will be livestreamed.
Each chamber has its own version of a bill to ratify Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s appropriations which need to be heard in committees before they can be voted on. House Bill 313 and Senate Bill 243 will be heard in committees today and tomorrow, according to the Legislature’s website.
“I understand the circumstance,” House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham said to the House’s first floor session since returning to Juneau. “It will be my intent as speaker to get our work done in a timely manner as possible.”
The Senate’s session was more brief, with no comments made by Senate President Cathy Giessel or any senators.