Capitol Live: Senate meets to discuss budget, House reverses sweep, passes capital budget

Live updates from the Capitol.

5:15 p.m.: Read our full coverage here: House passes capital budget, reverses sweep, approves veto restoration

House adjourns until Wednesday morning.

House votes to amend the adjournment to adjourn sine die (without a set date to come back) fails.

Majority Leader Thompson objects to sine die adjournment saying there’s still work to be done. Pruitt says that everything that was on the call to special session has been completed and that continuing work in special session costs the taxpayers money.

5:03 p.m.

Members of the House are currently debating if the House can adjourn sine die, or without any appointed date to come back.

House concurs with the Senate’s amendments, sending the bill on the Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

House votes to concur: 23 yeas, 15 nays.

Effective date clause: 33 yeas, 5 nays.

4:55 p.m.

Rep. Sara Rasmussen speaks against concurrence of SB 2001 on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Sara Rasmussen speaks against concurrence of SB 2001 on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, notes his past objection to the bill and says that he will not be able to support it. Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, Rep. Tammie Wilson also stand in dissent.

Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome, elaborates on the amendments added by the senate: The PFD of $1,600, school debt bond reimbursement, and money for veteran’s services.

Majority Leader Thompson votes to waive the rule requiring 24 hours between debate.

House re-convenes to concur on the Senate’s amendments on HB 2001.

4:42 p.m.

House will meet to concur to the Senate’s changes to HB 2001, which undoes a number of Dunleavy’s vetoes, and allocates a $1,600 PFD.

4:20 p.m.

In response to a question about a divided legislature coming together, Begich says that legislators and even the governor have responded to the public outcry that resulted from the governor’s vetoes. (Sen. Begich has told this reporter in previous conversations that he has never seen the same kind of public response in his entire career and that he believes public outcry has had a major impact.)

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, right, speaks as Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Anchorage, center, and Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, listen during a Senate Minority Caucus press conference after the Senate passed the operating budget at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019 (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, right, speaks as Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Anchorage, center, and Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, listen during a Senate Minority Caucus press conference after the Senate passed the operating budget at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019 (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Wielechowski says that Moody’s downgrading the state’s credit rating moved legislators. There had been no debate about cutting senior benefits, or the University of Alaska in the last election cycle so there was no study of the impacts of those cuts. The public overwhelmingly came out in opposition to those cuts.

Begich says he is proud of his colleagues for coming together on school debt bond reimbursement, referring to the unanimous vote in the senate.

Olson says that school debt bond reimbursement is a paramount issue for him and his constituents, its crucial for the benefit of future Alaskans.

Elvi Gray-Jackson says that she believes that Alaska needs to find new sources of revenue and oil and gas tax should be one of those sources.

Olson: Oil industry is aware of discontent within the Alaskan population and seems willing to work with the legislature.

Begich: Since the very beginning of the session, I have discussed the issue of oil and gas tax credits with some of the leaders of the companies. Alaska has some of the biggest profits in the world. Informally, industry leaders have not expressed a desire to leave the state and has also expressed difficulty with recruiting talent from within the state.

I believe that the oil and gas industry is willing to work as a partner, Begich says.

Kawasaki says that the “silliness” that came out of OMB Director Donna Arduin’s approach shows that she doesn’t understand Alaska and he’s upset that the governor listens to her.

Utterly and totally inappropriate that the Office of Management and Budget try to micromanage the Board of Regents, Begich said, in response to a question about the Regent’s meeting Tuesday.

There’s still the issue of oil and gas tax credits, Begich says. The wealthiest corporations in the world have to play a part in the furture of Alaska, and I believe that they will, he says.

Senate Democratic Minority is holding a press conference at the capitol. “We view (this vote) as putting Alaska back on a path of hope,” Minority Leader Begich says.

3:45 p.m.

HB 2001 passed the house, restoring roughly 75 percent of the funds vetoed by Governor Dunleavy, the bill will now go back to the House.

3:18 p.m.

Effective date clause passes unanimously

HB 2001 passes 17 yeas, 1 nay. Reinbold is the lone nay.

3:15 p.m.

Stedman rises for closing remarks, thanks members in committees and sub-committees. “When we all came together, we voted 20-0,” he says.

Sen. Chris Birch, R-Anchorage, rises to speak in favor of restoring funding to the university and senior benefits.

3:10 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, says the governor precipitated a crisis which forced people to decide what their future is going to be.

It will be on the governor to decide what his vision of Alaska is going to be once this bill is sent to his desk. This budget represents the will of the people, Begich says.

House member Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, left, Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, and Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, listen to Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, from the Senate gallery as Wilson speaks on the the operating budget at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019 (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

House member Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, left, Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, D-Sitka, and Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, listen to Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, from the Senate gallery as Wilson speaks on the the operating budget at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019 (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

3:04 p.m.

Wilson says that without a compromise with the governor, the legislature is giving false hope to many programs that may believe they’re getting their funding back. The conversation isn’t over and he fears that without compromise with the governor the legislature will find itself in the same position very soon.

3 p.m.

Wielechowski says that this should not be a choice between a full PFD and government services, we have to look at getting the most out of our resources, he says.

Wielechowski has said in the past that other sources of revenue, particularly oil taxes, need to be looked at again. He says that the choice between PFD and government programs is “a false dichotomy.”

He says that there are too many programs that won’t be funded if this bill is not passed. He agrees that the legislature is violating the statute on the PFD, but if you don’t pass this bill there’s probably 15 different other statutes will be violated.

2:55 p.m.

Costello says that she believes the PFD is supposed to work as a check on government spending. She will be supporting the legislation today but she wants her constituents to know that she supports a full PFD.

She says that the people want the PFD.

She says that in the past she had spoken with many people involved Alaska’s becoming a state and that those politicians were working for the people.

Costello says that she is in favor of many of the funds restored by HB 2001, particularly the funds for senior benefits and programs to help victims of domestic violence.

2:51 p.m.

Sens. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, and Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, speak to the importance of the University of Alaska.

“Whether you like it or not, climate change is real,” Bishop says, saying that the University helps to work smarter to be able to squeeze every bit of oil out of the oil fields that we can.

2:47 p.m.

Reinbold says that the government cannot continue to grow as it has, she says she is a huge believer in fiscal responsibility and restraint, and that she will be voting “no” on this bill because it is financially irresponsible.

“I believe that in Juneau there’s not much room for a conservative voice,” she says. Hoffman raises a fourth point of order asking Reinbold to speak to the bill itself.

Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, watches as Senate Majority Leader Lyman Hoffman, R-Bethel, interrupts with a “point of order” during debate on the operating budget at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, watches as Senate Majority Leader Lyman Hoffman, R-Bethel, interrupts with a “point of order” during debate on the operating budget at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Reinbold questions whether the bill is legal because it was introduced in Juneau, Hoffman raises a point of order saying the legality of the bill is to be decided by the courts. She says she doesn’t want to erode public trust any further.

Reinbold said she voted last week for SB 2002 “under duress.” Majority Leader Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, has raised two points of order, asking Reinbold to remain on the topic of the current bill.

Reinbold says, “compromise is an art,” and that one side cannot be asked to compromise repeatedly. She asks the legislature not to hold the meeting in Wasilla against the legislators who went there. They were following the constitution she said.

Stedman makes closing remarks advocating for the bill which would reverse a large number of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s vetoes, saying that the programs being funded, Head Start namely, would provide a future for Alaska.

2:30 p.m.

Sen. David Wilson offers an amendment to the operating budget at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019. Sen. Wilson’s amendment would pay $1,400 as part two of an Alaskan permanent fund dividend. It was voted down. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. David Wilson offers an amendment to the operating budget at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019. Sen. Wilson’s amendment would pay $1,400 as part two of an Alaskan permanent fund dividend. It was voted down. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Amendment 4 fails.

Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, introduces Amendment 4, which would allocate a full PFD but in two parts. It would give $1,600 initially and the a $1,400 supplemental PFD in May.

Senate passes Amendment 5, which allocates a $1,600 PFD.

2:23 p.m.

Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, who was marked as excused, just walked into the chamber.

2:20 p.m.

Stedman says that a budget bill is a law which circumvents other laws, so they are not overriding the constitution, but only making a one year statute. He also says the the permanent fund has grown far beyond oil money and currently has international holdings and is worth roughly $16 billion.

Senate comes back to order, Stedman, begins wrap up.

2:15 p.m.

Senate takes a brief at ease.

2:07 p.m

Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, says that the special session is limited in what it can discuss and the formula that designates the PFD is not available for this session. The larger dividend would decimate communities and force them out of the state because they can no longer afford to live in Alaska. We should provide a “stable” and “rational” PFD.

2:00 p.m.

Senators rise speaking for and against a full $3,000 PFD, many repeating similar arguments to those made in the House over the past weeks. Supporters of a full PFD say that the legislature must follow the law and if the formula for the dividend needs to change, that should be done at a later time.

Opposition to the full PFD say this is the opportunity to decide what Alaska’s future will look like. Will Alaska provide the programs that so many Alaskan’s rely on? Providing a full PFD is not worth eviscerating the myriad programs that state provides, they say.

1:50 p.m.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, speaks in opposition to Amendment 5 to HB 2001 which would remove language allocating a $3,000 PFD on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, speaks in opposition to Amendment 5 to HB 2001 which would remove language allocating a $3,000 PFD on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Sens. Costello, Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, and Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, rise in objection saying that the law dictates a full $3,000 PFD. (Wielechowski is the lone Democrat supporting a full PFD.)

Amendment 5, introduced by Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, deletes language that would appropriate a full dividend and instead allocate $1,600.

SB 2001 and Amendments can be found here.

Sen. Donny Olsen, D-Golovin, introduces Amendment 3, adding nearly $20 million for the regional educational attendance area, money for rural schools.

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, introduces Amendment 2, adds “the amount necessary for state aid for costs of school construction,” estimated to be almost $50 million.

Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, introduced Amendment 1 to the bill, adding nearly $200,000 for military and veteran’s affairs.

Senate meets to discuss HB 2001

1:30 p.m.

The Senate is scheduled to meet to discuss HB 2001, which now has language allocating the PFD in it. Senate session is delayed to the call of the chair.

SB 2002 now goes to the governor’s desk. Dunleavy can veto certain items from the capital budget but he cannot undo the reverse sweep. Funds that were swept have been returned to their accounts. Power Cost Equalization and Alaska Performance Scholarship funds have now been returned and the governor cannot undo that.

House votes on SB 2002, 32 yeas, 6 nays. Passes.

House votes to reverse the sweep, 31 yeas, 7 nays. Passes.

11:51 a.m.

Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage, says that Rep. Wilson has voted in the past to draw funds from the CBR.

11:50 a.m.

House Majority Leader Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, speaks in favor of passing the capital budget during a House session at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

House Majority Leader Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, speaks in favor of passing the capital budget during a House session at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Jackson says there has been no compromise and the legislature should be working for all Alaskans.

Rep. Dave Talerico, R-Healy, says that the WWAMI program is of great importance to his constituency and that this bill was important for Alaska (Talerico was absent in previous weeks because of medical issues.)

11:46 a.m.

Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, begins to speak but Rep. Sharon Jackson, R-Eagle River, raises a point of order saying that the current debate is over HB 2002, not the reverse sweep. Hannan is allowed to keep speaking after a brief at ease (language for reversing the sweep is included in the bill.)

11:42 a.m.

Rep. Matt Claman, D-Anchorage, says that he has heard a consistent message from the Congressional delegation (Murkowski, Sullivan, Young) and that was not to leave one federal dollar on the table. He also says that the partnership with the University of Washington School of Medicine was extremely important to the future of Alaska and Alaska’s health.

11:40 a.m.

“We’re not letting the state burn over the amount of a PFD,” Kopp said.

Majority Leader Thompson and Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage, say that this bill is too important not to pass, and that the lack of funding is sending people out of state.

Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, says that it’s true that the bill dips into the CBR, but it does so because members of the legislature compromised by raising the PFD. (The original number proposed two weeks ago was roughly $900)

11:33 a.m.

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, objects on a vote to rescind a previous vote on the budget during a House session at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, objects on a vote to rescind a previous vote on the budget during a House session at the Capitol on Monday, July 29, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Eastman says that in the past votes to reconsider had been over small technical issues, like grammar and spelling, not about diving $250 million into the CBR. “What you have now, is a number of legislators who were told one thing and something else is happening,” he said.

“Don’t listen to the hype, Mr. Speaker,” he said.

He said that legislators have been threatened with loss of staff and committee chairmanships, and not given the ability to compromise.

Wilson says it’s time to quit putting things in people’s mouths. “We can’t keep going into our savings,” she says. That is the savings account Alaska uses to pay its bills, she said. She says that some of the programs that are being paid for out of from the savings, the Constitutional Budget Reserve, are very important. Many are she says, like the Power Cost Equalization program and the Alaska Performance Scholarship.

She says she wants to vote yes on HB 2002, but that going into the savings in order to balance the budget is not the way to go. She says that she had hoped that the bills failure would’ve led to people sitting down and coming to a compromise. “Today to me is about the 30th vote, and not about compromise,” Wilson.

11:24 a.m.

House votes to rescind 26 yeas, 12 nays. Vote passes.

11:23 a.m.

Rep. Gary Kopp, R-Kenai, says it takes time to implement funding.

11:22 a.m.

Eastman says he has done some research and that he was not able to find an instance in the legislative history that the House where the house voted to rescind a vote after second consideration.

He says that there is a specific prohibition against doing exactly this, and that the only legitimate course of action was to submit a new bill. He says the motion is out of order and should be considered as such.

Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, says that he has discussed with Legislative Legal Division and that there is precedent for such an action, and that there is over a billion dollars at stake.

Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, notes another precedent within the legislative history.

Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, says that although there a billion in dollars in funding, US Senator Dan Sullivan has said that decision does not need to be made today.

11:15 a.m.

House Majority Leader Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks, moves to rescind House vote on SB 2002, the vote which failed last Monday, July 22. That bill contains language to reverse the sweep and pass a capital budget.

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, objects.

House takes an at ease.

11:11 a.m.

House comes to order. Thirty-eight members present. Carpenter and Rep. Mark Neuman, R-Big Lake, are absent but excused.

11:08 a.m.

The number of excused representatives has gone down to one. Currently the board lists only Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, as excused.

11:01 a.m.

Bells have rung and legislators are filing into the House Chamber. The board list only three legislators as excused, but that may change once the session starts. The more lawmakers present, the greater the chances of the bill passing.

10:55 a.m.

The House of Representatives is meeting Monday at 11 a.m. to vote to rescind the body’s previous action on SB 2002, the bill which would have reversed the sweep and provided funding for a number of government programs.

The House failed to pass that bill by one vote on July 22, but Speaker Bryce Edgmon said that evening that the House would vote to undo that vote and try again once it had enough votes for it to pass.

Whether there will be enough votes is not yet clear, but if the effort fails, it will be the last opportunity the chamber has to pass this particular bill.

If that happens, the process for a new bill will have to begin. Last week the House also passed bills for restoring roughly 75 percent of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s line item vetoes, and a bill which allocates a $1,600 Permanent Fund Dividend. All three bills are subject to the governor’s veto.

The House Finance Committee was scheduled to meet Monday morning at 9 a.m. but that meeting has been delayed to the call of the chair.


• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.


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