Senators Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, and Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, walk out of the Senate chambers with other senators after a “call” on the Senate was lifted on Thursday, June 6, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Senators Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, and Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, walk out of the Senate chambers with other senators after a “call” on the Senate was lifted on Thursday, June 6, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Capitol Live: Senate might shift focus to budget, not PFD

Live updates from inside the Capitol.

2:15 p.m.

Unrelated: Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon issued a statement a moment ago in regard to Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s pro-PFD event in Wasilla this evening:

“The Alaska House Majority held community forums across the state in events that were open for the public to weigh in and share ideas. In those meetings, Alaskans opposed the governor’s drastic budget cuts 5-to-1. People from all walks of life and from many political corners expressed their deep concern that essential state services would be targeted for large reductions.

“The campaign to discuss the PFD in isolation — separate from how we will pay for schools, Pioneer Homes, and other critical services — fails to take the entire picture into consideration. We remain committed to passing a balanced budget and a sustainable PFD for tomorrow’s generation while having an honest conversation with Alaskans.”

12:25 p.m.

Another thought from Kiehl along those same lines:

“The operating budget is otherwise ready to go,” Kiehl says. “For three weeks, nobody’s gotten anywhere keeping them tied together. I think it’s time to split them.”

12:13 p.m.

The attempt to vote on the floor today was essentially to end this PFD legislation so the Senate can focus on passing the budget.

Just spoke with Sen. Jesse Kiehl, who said it’s time to get the budget out and figure out the PFD later.

“We have a responsibility to govern,” Kiehl says, “so if we’re hopelessly balled up on the PFD, let’s get the budget out and then figure out the PFD solution. The Legislature’s been done with everything except the PFD for three weeks. Clearly, holding it hasn’t loosened up the PFD issue.”

11:52 a.m.

Senate President Cathy Giessel speaks to media members following that weird floor session, and says the Senate is trying to shift its focus to the operating budget instead of the PFD.

“We need to get the operating budget moving,” Giessel said. “Right now we have an issue that is standing in the way of that.”

It’s safe to assume that that issue is the PFD. Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, if you’ll recall, said this week that he wants to see the Legislature pass a budget first and then focus on the PFD, and Giessel says that’s how many people in the Senate feel as well.

Both the majority and minority caucuses are currently meeting, and both are expected to be in those meetings for a while.

Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, center, is interviewed by members of the media after a “call” on the Senate was lifted on Thursday, June 6, 2019 (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, center, is interviewed by members of the media after a “call” on the Senate was lifted on Thursday, June 6, 2019 (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

11:32 a.m.

Well, that was a false alarm. The senate instead votes to adjourn today instead of taking up the PFD. They’ll meet again tomorrow at 11 a.m.

11:28 a.m.

Sen. Lora Reinbold stands up and expresses her displeasure with this attempt to vote. She points out that a quarter of the senators are not in the room, meaning thousands of Alaskans are not represented today.

11:20 a.m.

Now a call has been put out to the Senate, to require absent senators to coming to the floor. Now they’re debating about whether they can vote on this call. This is quite chaotic.

Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, leaves the Senate chambers after a “call” on the Senate was lifted on Thursday, June 6, 2019. Sen. Hoffman said, “Another fun day in the Senate” on his way out. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, leaves the Senate chambers after a “call” on the Senate was lifted on Thursday, June 6, 2019. Sen. Hoffman said, “Another fun day in the Senate” on his way out. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

11:10 a.m.

We’re starting an unexpected Capitol Live today. It looked like today would pass without incident, but on the Senate floor, Sen. John Coghill makes a motion to rescind the Senate’s action on Senate Bill 1002 (the bill to set the amount of the Permanent Fund Dividend) from the other day.

This is a bit of an unexpected development.

Senate Majority Leader Mia Costello then moves to table this discussion, as five members are absent today. That motion fails, though, so the Senate will now take a vote on whether to take up discussion on the PFD again. It will take 11 votes for them to take up discussion again. There are only 15 people present today.

If they take up discussion again, they could conceivably pass something.

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