We’ve been unable to cover most of the floor session, but the vote to include the PFD in the bill failed, 21-15. They’ll continue their floor session this afternoon after a break for lunch.
Per one lawmaker, the lunch break appears to be cordial:
The funny thing about politics is we stand up on the floor and debate different topics and then all go into the lounge and have friendly interaction… #TheMoreYouKnow #akleg— Rep. Sara Rasmussen (@sararasmussenak) June 12, 2019
Here are some photos of the action, via Michael Penn:
Essentially, members of the Majority are speaking against this amendment and members of the Minority are speaking in favor. That’s different than it is in the Senate, where both caucuses are split on the issue.
It appears this amendment will be defeated. But as we wrote about yesterday, the House needs 30 members to approve of the capital budget. If the Minority votes together, the members can essentially hold the budget captive until they get some kind of guarantee on the PFD. We’ll see where this goes.
Representatives sharing their thoughts, with no surprises so far. Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, says that giving out a $3,000 dividend this year is “bad policy” and that the state can’t possibly cut the budget low enough to balance it while supplying a full dividend. On the other hand, Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, says that if the Legislature doesn’t give a full dividend, “we are not listening to the people right now.”
The amendments begin. Rep. David Talerico introduces the first one. This would appropriate $1.9 billion for a full statutory Permanent Fund Dividend this year.
“I would recommend that everyone vote yes on this so we can move forward,” Talerico says.
Four representatives are excused for today’s session: Sara Hannan, Mark Neuman, Laddie Whaw and Chris Tuck. Two Democrats and two Republicans.
Bells are ringing to announce that the House is ready to hit the floor. It could be quite an interesting session.
After this morning’s meeting, Bishop told reporters that the group has a target of being done with its work in 21 days.
Also, the House floor session was delayed. Still waiting for specifics on when that might begin.
After exactly 20 minutes, the working group adjourns. Not a ton of action, as expected. They’ll dive more into actual conversation tomorrow morning.
To close the meeting, Bishop does his best youth basketball coach impression.
“This is our committee, and it’s ‘we.’ There’s no ‘I’ here at the table,” Bishop says.
Here are the chairs, along with Uhtred Permanentfundsen, Defender of the Permanent Fund, there in the background. That’s a statue that Stedman brought in earlier this session.
Working group members are sharing general comments now. Stedman tells a story basically about watching Kreiss-Tomkins grow up, and he hopes that Kreiss-Tomkins (who is quite a bit younger than Stedman) gets to see another young person in Sitka grow up and join the Legislature. Stedman says he also hopes that the Permanent Fund will still be preserved and around at that point.
Hughes says this issue has taken the state by storm, and she hopes Alaskans weigh in during this process.
“I believe a sleeping giant has been awakened,” Hughes says.
The Permanent Fund working group is meeting for the first time this morning. This should be a quick, introductory meeting.
The House picked its four representatives yesterday for this group. Reps. Jennifer Johnston (R-Anchorage) will serve as the chair, and Reps. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka), Kelly Merrick (R-Eagle River) and Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks) will join her.
They complete the group of eight, which also includes Senate Chair Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks) and Sens. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer), Donny Olson (D-Golovin) and Bert Stedman (R-Sitka).
Meanwhile, the debate on the capital budget is set to begin in about half an hour (but might get delayed). Read more on that here.