Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with his cabinet members at the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with his cabinet members at the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Capitol Live: Dunleavy vows to send Alaska troops to border if asked

Live updates from inside the Capitol.

3:55 p.m.

Governor Dunleavy's Statement on the US Border Crisis from Governor Mike Dunleavy on Vimeo.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy released the following statement Friday afternoon, saying he would send troops from Alaska to the U.S.-Mexico border if the federal government wanted.

“Today I notified the White House that Alaska and our National Guard — if called upon — stand ready to support the national security crisis on the U.S. southern border,” Dunleavy said. “While the southern border may seem far away and distant, this crisis is real and a potential threat to every American, including Alaskans. I look forward to our congressional delegation, and Alaskans, joining me in support of the president’s mission to secure our borders.”

— Alex McCarthy

1 p.m.

Rep. Bart LeBon, R-Fairbanks, is member No. 25 in the Alaska House Majority.

That means every member of the Interior delegation: Reps. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole; Grier Hopkins, D-Fairbanks; Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks and now LeBon, have joined the bipartisan House Majority.

LeBon, a freshman, said the appointments of fellow Republicans Wilson and Thompson to key leadership positions within the Majority gave him reason to join. Thompson is House Majority Leader and Wilson is House Finance Committee chair.

As a former banker, he is also hoping to be given a seat on the House Finance Committee.

For now, the party breakdown of the House Majority is 15 Democrats, eight Republicans and two indepenent representatives.

— Kevin Baird

11:25 a.m.

The House has not been organized just yet. But, Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, is House Majority Leader. Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage, is House Rules Committee chair.

Kopp had initially been tagged for majority leader. In fact, the website showed that Kopp was the majority leader as recently as 11 a.m. However, Kopp said he and Thompson mutually agreed to change roles. The website was not updated as of 11 a.m.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham said he hopes the organization will be completed Monday.

— Kevin Baird

11 a.m.

The House is going through some formalities now that it has a speaker in Rep. Bryce Edgmon, U-Dillingham. It appears Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, is House Majority Leader, even though Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage, is listed as majority leader on the website.

The following representatives are absent: Reps. Mark Neuman, R-Big Lake; Laddie Shaw, R-Anchorage; and Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai.

—Kevin Baird

10:05 a.m.

Tense exchange between Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, and OMB Director Donna Arduin.

Wielechowski asks Arduin, pronouncing her name as ar-DOON, about her past with private prisons. He refers to Arduin being on the board of GEO Group, a private prisons company, and asks if the department has had any conversations with private prisons outside of Alaska to possibly ship Alaskan inmates out of the state.

“It’s AR-dwin,” Arduin says first.

“I was not on the board of GEO,” Arduin continues. “I have no connections with private prisons and I have had no conversations with them.”

For what it’s worth, this is a statement provided to us by Laura Cramer from OMB when we asked about Arduin’s connections to GEO Group:

“(Arduin) was an Independent Trustee for a publicly traded company, Centrcore Properties Trust (a REIT) during 2005-2006. Geo was one of Centrcore’s leasing customers. She never had a financial interest with GEO or GEO Care.”

Here’s a full story of ours delving into Arduin’s past.

— Alex McCarthy

Office of Management and Budget Director Donna Arduin. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Office of Management and Budget Director Donna Arduin. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

9:45 a.m.

Now talking about the Department of Corrections, Micciche requests that OMB provide legislators more details of which specific state funds are being used to fund the departments. He asks for a breakdown of Unrestricted General Fund usage and Designated General Funds. Micciche says he’d like to see this “so we can bring transparency back to this process.”

— Alex McCarthy

9:36 a.m.

For the second day in a row, senators aren’t holding back when asking their questions and expressing their confusion and frustration with the proposed budget. There were cuts across the board, even to departments that deal with public safety, which was advertised as the governor’s top priority.

Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, and Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, have been particularly vocal. Hoffman asks how the Department of Law can be tough on crime when its budget has been reduced. Anna Kim from the department tells him there’s a $1.1 million fiscal note that will be coming to the department.

Hoffman responds, frustrated that there weren’t any details provided in what services might be cut as a result of budget cuts.

“The people of Alaska deserve an answer for what is not going to be performed as a result of this reduction,” Hoffman says.

Micciche says he’s worried if the department can handle a large caseload with a reduced budget.

— Alex McCarthy

9:05 a.m.

Everyone’s back in action at the Capitol. For the first time this session, the day begins with both a budget proposal on the table and a Speaker of the House.

Here’s our story on Bryce Edgmon being elected (again) as speaker: ‘To hell with politics’: House speaker elected after two Republicans cross party lines

The day starts with another presentation from the Office of Management and Budget to the Senate Finance Committee. Today they’re focused on public safety departments.

Here’s our story from yesterday’s Senate Finance Committee meeting: Experts: State could lose thousands of jobs if budget proposal goes through

The House convenes at 10 a.m. and the Senate meets at 11 a.m.

— Alex McCarthy

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