Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, speaks to Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, center, and Senate Majority Leader Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel the morning of Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, speaks to Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, center, and Senate Majority Leader Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel the morning of Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire)

Capitol Live: Senate approves federal funding, adjourns

Lawmakers hope checks will go out by Friday

9:40 a.m.

Summary: Without much ceremony, the Senate adjourns “sine die” or indefinitely, and lawmakers left the floor fairly quickly following the close of the session.

Yesterday, Giessel said the floor session had been scheduled for the morning in order to allow lawmakers to make the 1 p.m. flight to Anchorage.

9:24 a.m.

Vote passes, 19-1, with only Reinbold voting against.

The Senate is taking up closing business.

9:21 a.m.

In closing remarks, Stedman said without action by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, the governor would have been able to disperse the money after 45 days without legislative input. He called the Legislature’s actions constitutional, legal and fast.

“We need not make the suffering continue while we squabble,” Stedman said.

9:17 a.m.

“Money is not for local governments, it’s for local communities,” said Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer. “I just want the public to know that by supporting this we are supporting our private sector and there are very clear guidelines.”

An appropriation process would have dragged the process out and she does believe the bill to be constitutional, Hughes said.

9:11 a.m.

“Today we’ve got a ratification bill dealing with over $1 billion coming to us from the federal government,” Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, said.” It has 137 RPLs involved in this, $568 million to 123 communities across the state, further funding for schools airports, fisheries, public safety.”

Any alteration to the bill would effetely block the bill because the House had already adjourned, Stedman said.

During closing comments, Reinbold continued her objections to the bill and the governor’s emergency declaration.

“This is setting a bad precedent for the future, that federal funds coming in are not an appropriation, this doesn’t even pass the sniff test,” she said. “I would like to know who made the decision that it was not an appropriation bill.”

The bill was a false attempt to fix any constitutional defects to using the RPL process to distribute money, Reinbold said, and would be subject to future legal challenge.

9:03 a.m.

Reinbold has attempted to add four amendments, one to end the governor’s emergency declaration, two to provide $1,000 stimulus checks to all Alaskans and another for a full Permanent Fund Dividend.

Giessel has ruled most of the amendments out-of-order and the Senate has taken several at eases to discuss the legislative rules surrounding Reinbold’s amendments.

8:44 a.m.

Senators are meeting at the Capitol this morning to approve a bill passed yesterday by the House that would ratify Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposals for allocating nearly $1 billion in federal funding.

Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, has tried to add several amendments to the bill, but because the House has already adjourned, one amendment was ruled out of order while another failed in a vote.

Reinbold, who yesterday spoke against the bill on the basis that it relents appropriating power to the executive office, is still attempting to add more amendments.

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