Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, left, speaks with Rep. Sara Rasmussen, R-Anchorage, and Rep. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage, on the House floor as amendments to the budget are proposed on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, left, speaks with Rep. Sara Rasmussen, R-Anchorage, and Rep. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage, on the House floor as amendments to the budget are proposed on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Capitol Live: House off to slow start in budget talks

Live updates from inside the Capitol.

4:20 p.m.

The House has reconvened, with Eastman again getting the party started. He’s proposed an amendment that would remove language that requires the Department of Health and Social Services to fully fund preventative dental Medicaid services. It fails, 26-13.

Unfortunately, this is as late as our coverage will be going today. You can watch live at https://www.360north.org/gavel-archives/.

— Alex McCarthy

2:38 p.m.

For what it’s worth, we just had a rare governor sighting on the ground floor of the Capitol just a moment ago. Dunleavy was going into Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich’s office.

Along those lines, you might remember this Twitter exchange from a few weeks ago, where Dunleavy said he was meeting with leaders on both sides of the aisle in both bodies. Begich responded by saying Dunleavy hadn’t been meeting with him. Looks like that has changed.

— Alex McCarthy

2:23 p.m.

Some stats from David Eastman’s day so far.

Amendments offered: Nine

Amendments withdrawn: One

Amendments passed: Zero

Total number of votes for his amendments: 93

Total number of votes against his amendments: 212

— Alex McCarthy

2:18 p.m.

Eastman’s amendment is defeated 28-11.

Now we’ll take a 30-minute break, apparently.

— Alex McCarthy

2:12 p.m.

That amendment fails, 29-10.

Eastman refuses to give up. He’s bringing another amendment, No. 17. He brings up an issue that the House spent a ton of time talking about last week (as a result of Eastman bringing it up). His amendment would require the Alaska Courts System to “provide comprehensive online access to sentencing information” by May 1, 2021.

Rep. Andy Josephson rises and says the court system is already doing something similar. He suggests that they wait and see what the court system does before they impose their own requirements.

— Alex McCarthy

1:56 p.m.

Back to normal. Eastman stands and proposes Amendment 16, which would require departments to “immediately” inform the Legislature if an expenditure ends up costing more than the fiscal note said it would.

— Alex McCarthy

1:51 p.m.

After the at-ease, Ortiz removes his objection. With that, the amendment passes. That’s the first of the day.

The amendment cuts more than $33,000 from Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Commission. That office helps connect students with financial aid opportunities and helps families with affording educational resources.

— Alex McCarthy

1:43 p.m.

Rasmussen is back on the mic, proposing an amendment that would reduce funding for certain education programs. Someone calls for a brief at-ease and we’ll take a short break.

— Alex McCarthy

1:42 p.m.

In the closest vote of the day, that fails 21-16.

— Alex McCarthy

1:27 p.m.

Rasmussen speaks in support of this amendment.

“I believe that parents have a responsibility to teach their children about inappropriate touch, for example,” she says.

Rep. Tammie Wilson rises at this. She says that in some cases, the parents are the ones committing the abuse, so they shouldn’t be trusted universally to teach their children about inappropriate behavior.

— Alex McCarthy

1:36 p.m.

Rep. Dan Ortiz speaks in opposition to the amendment. First of all, he says the state usually doesn’t rule on curriculum. Secondly, with such high rates of sexual violence in the state, it’s important to teach children young.

“If the intent is to eliminate good touch bad touch instructions…I think that’s problematic,” Ortiz says. “I think we need to do everything we can to teach our children to recognize when inappropriate touch is happening.”

— Alex McCarthy

1:34 p.m.

Just like that, Eastman withdraws Amendment 12. But believe it or not, he’s got another one.

This Amendment, No. 13, would ensure that any funds allocated to Headstart would not be used for sex education.

— Alex McCarthy

1:31 p.m.

Hold on to your hats, folks. We’re underway.

This session, of course, begins with Rep. David Eastman standing up and proposing an amendment. And of course, a chorus of objections resound.

This would apparently would result in more parity between the salaries of teachers and legislators.

— Alex McCarthy

1:26 p.m.

An exciting moment here just a moment ago. The House has still not come to order, though it was scheduled to reconvene at 1 p.m. At about 1:25 p.m., Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon picked up the gavel and looked as if he was about to strike it and start the floor session.

After a moment, he put it back down. Conversation continues in the chamber, as we still wait for everyone to take their seats.

— Alex McCarthy

12:01 p.m.

After a few more amendments are skipped, Rep. Sara Rasmussen proposes an amendment that would have eliminated some state technology jobs. That one’s voted down easily and the representatives break for lunch. Not a very productive morning on the floor, to say the least.

— Alex McCarthy

11:35 a.m.

Amendments are popping up online here fairly quickly if you want to follow along.

— Alex McCarthy

11:24 a.m.

Eastman’s still going. His fifth amendment would prevent the state from using state funds be used to collect union dues. He says this is admirable, but not a good use of tax dollars.

— Alex McCarthy

11:21 a.m.

That one gets voted down handily, just as the first two did. Eastman’s 0-for-3 on amendments so far, but he’s going down swinging every time. He’s on to his fourth amendment now, which has to deal with employment contracts.

That one also gets voted down, 26-12.

— Alex McCarthy

11:15 a.m.

Down on the House floor, representatives are starting to propose amendments to the House’s budget proposal. Rep. David Eastman gets things rolling, bringing three amendments already. Amendment No. 3 spells out that the Legislature can’t get involved in local politics and override the vote of people in a municipality (if I understood his explanation). Rep. Tammie Wilson responds, saying the state’s process for getting involved in a community situation involves a great deal of public input and a vote at the end of the process. This seems to be for very specific instances.

— Alex McCarthy

11:01 a.m.

Dunleavy wraps up, adding again that he hopes to see movement on his constitutional amendments and crime bills. He also says he plans to continue to meet with people around the state to explain his proposal and take questions.

— Alex McCarthy

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks during a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks during a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

10:52 a.m.

Dunleavy is asked what the most common comment he’s heard from people on the roadshow.

“Keep doing what you’re doing,” he says people have told him. “The people of Alaska are behind you.”

— Alex McCarthy

10:47 a.m.

Dunleavy says that if the crime bills don’t pass, the constitutional amendments don’t pass and the budget is only slightly reduced, “we haven’t accomplished much this session.” He adds that “we’re running out of time” to fix the state’s fiscal situation.

— Alex McCarthy

10:42 a.m.

Dunleavy says his administration hasn’t talked yet about how many special sessions they’re willing to impose to get these bills and amendments passed. They’re still waiting to see what the Legislature does.

— Alex McCarthy

10:40 a.m.

Dunleavy’s repeatedly expressing his frustration that his crime bills and constitutional amendments aren’t moving very quickly.

“Without the crime bills, we’re not gonna make Alaska safer. Without the amendments, we’re not going to have a permanent fiscal fix.”

— Alex McCarthy

10:36 a.m.

Meanwhile, it appears Rep. Sara Rasmussen was listening to “Some Nights” by Fun. on the way to work today. Sounds like it has her pumped up for today’s session.

— Alex McCarthy

10:34 a.m.

“We’re going to continue to push the House,” he says, to make progress on moving his constitutional amendments. He says he’s concerned that those amendments aren’t moving through the House.

He says that he’s also concerned that the House proposal will use Permanent Fund money in the budget. He calls the House’s budget “an incomplete fix, in my opinion, and certainly not a permanent fiscal fix.”

— Alex McCarthy

10:32 a.m.

Dunleavy says the main difference between his budget and what will likely be coming from the Legislature is that he doesn’t want a “Groundhog Day” scenario keep playing out. Legislators have the same arguments and discussions year after year, he says, and he wants to take care of business this year and make future budgeting processes easier.

— Alex McCarthy

10:30 a.m.

Dunleavy is here, right on time. He’s starting out talking about his roadshow.

“The first leg of this roadshow was, in my opinion, great,” he says.

— Alex McCarthy

10:25 a.m.

We’re waiting to hear from Dunleavy, along with Office of Management and Budget Director Donna Arduin and Commissioner of Revenue appointee Bruce Tangeman. Meanwhile, the House floor session still hadn’t begun as of about five minutes ago. Perhaps some of them are waiting to hear what the governor has to say.

— Alex McCarthy

10:04 a.m.

As representatives file into the chambers, one Anchorage Democrat takes to Twitter in a stand against Dunleavy’s budget proposal.

— Alex McCarthy

9:35 a.m.

Everyone’s anxiously awaiting the House session this morning, as it’s expected to last all day and be a little contentious. Representatives are expected to propose amendments to the operating budget today and for the next couple days in an attempt to put a proposal together. That’s supposed to start at 10 a.m.

At 10:30 a.m., presumably while the House is meeting, Gov. Mike Dunleavy is giving a press conference to talk about his recent travels and about the House’s budget process.

— Alex McCarthy

8:15 a.m.

The week in the Capitol started with good news for Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau. The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 16, which is focused on preserving the Alaska State Fair’s alcohol license but also affects ski areas in the state.

SB 16 would add ski and snowboard areas to a state statute that lists the types of recreational events where alcohol sales are allowed. Eaglecrest General Manager Dave Scanlan told us in February that Eaglecrest could have a bar open next winter if the Legislature passes the bill into law this year.

The bill, which was proposed by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, now heads to the House.

“The spirit of this bill is about supporting small businesses and existing high-quality operators,” Micciche said in a statement.

Read more on the bill and Eaglecrest’s hopes here.

— Alex McCarthy

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