The Alaska State Capitol in April 2018. (Juneau Empire File)

The Alaska State Capitol in April 2018. (Juneau Empire File)

Capitol Live: House Judiciary questions Dunleavy’s AG designee

Follow along with live updates from Alaska’s Capitol.

2:55 p.m.

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux motioned to forward Clarkson’s nomination out of the committee to the joint session, where the House and Senate will take the final vote on his appointment.

— Mollie Barnes

2:27 p.m.

“Don’t you think maybe it’s kind of a dangerous precedent to say we shouldn’t confirm a lawyer who doesn’t agree with us?” asks Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage.

The Planned Parenthood representative says that precedent has already been set, because there were people who were nominated for positions last session, who used to work for Planned Parenthood and weren’t confirmed as a result of their previous work experience and past views.

— Mollie Barnes

2:21 p.m.

“I feel my family has been personally hurt by Clarkson’s discriminatory efforts,” says one retired state worker who is testifying here in Juneau. She says she wasn’t allowed to add her wife to her health insurance plan.

“I haven’t seen anything from Mr. Clarkson that gives me hope that he would support our efforts to have equal protection,” she says. “I would strongly urge you not to confirm him.”

A Planned Parenthood representative is here and speaks in opposition to Clarkson’s appointment. She says throughout his career, Clarkson has elevated religious organizations when it comes to abortion rights.

— Mollie Barnes

2:10 p.m.

Now some public testimony is being given in opposition to Clarkson’s appointment.

Some Alaska residents on the line are saying that his work has been too divisive, especially in areas of LGBTQ, sexual health and reproductive rights. Some say that Alaska needs a more moderate attorney general.

So far, there were about five people, all men, speaking in support of Clarkson and five people, all women, speaking in opposition.

— Mollie Barnes

1:54 p.m.

Several attorneys on the line are giving positive testimony for Clarkson. It’s a little hard to hear some of the full testimonies.

Thorough, hard-working and honest are some adjectives used to describe him and his work as a lawyer.

“I couldn’t give him a higher recommendation,” said one person on the line. “There’s never been any issue with anything he’s done as a lawyer.”

— Mollie Barnes

1:25 p.m.

The questions have switched to Clarkson’s cases regarding abortion.

Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, also asks about Clarkson’s involvement with any cases regarding gay marriage.

“The city of Fairbanks today is going to hear a city ordinance about non-discrimination based on gender, sexual identity,” Wool says. “If the state legislature were to pass a law like that would you support it?”

“It wouldn’t be my job to support it,” Clarkson says. “It would be my job to enforce it.”

Clarkson has said he helped draft the 1998 state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. But he notes the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage is now the law.

— Mollie Barnes

Kevin Clarkson, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s choice for Attorney General, answers questions in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Kevin Clarkson, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s choice for Attorney General, answers questions in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

1:18 p.m.

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, has asked AG designee Clarkson if he would be comfortable prosecuting Gov. Mike Dunleavy if he found out that the governor was breaking the law.

“I have every confidence I’m not going to face that problem,” Clarkson says. “I believe he respects the law. I can’t put him in a headlock and stop him from doing what he wants to do. If the governor decides to not follow my advice, perhaps if I advise something is not constitutional, the check at that point is the judiciary.”

— Mollie Barnes

1:15 p.m.

Clarkson has finished his testimony, and now the committee is asking questions.

Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, says she has lots and lots of letters in opposition to the Attorney General designee, but is wondering where his supporters are.

Clarkson says they are in the audience here, and plan to give public comment in a few minutes when that is opened up.

— Mollie Barnes

1:10 p.m.

Kevin Clarkson, the Attorney General designee, is speaking to the House Judiciary committee.

“Like many Alaskans I’m a transplant from another state,” he says. He came from Oregon.

“I’m the product of a law enforcement family,” he says.

He says his first exposure to Alaska was in 1985, when he moved to Anchorage for a job.

“I love Alaska at this point. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”

He says only 10 percent of his work has been related to controversial social cases. His work on cases involving social issues has drawn attention, with some gay rights and abortion rights advocates raising concerns.

Read more about him here: Alaska attorney general says he can set aside personal views on abortion

— Mollie Barnes

1:05 p.m.

The Alaska House of Representatives has created its first ever Special Committee on Tribal Affairs. The committee will be chaired by Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, D-Bethel.

“Collaborating with our federally-recognized tribes helps bridge historical and political divisions while elevating opportunities to shape policies and programs that incorporate local and traditional knowledge,” Zulkosky said in a written statement. “I am eager for the opportunity to chair this historic committee and pursue opportunities to move Alaska forward together.”

The committee was passed into being by way of resolution during the House floor session.

— Kevin Baird

12:11 p.m.

The Office of Management and Budget would have unprecedented power under Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budget bill. It would give OMB Director Donna Arduin the ability to transfer funds within a department.

However, the Legislative Affairs’ non-partisan Legal Services team has issued an opinion on the matter calling this proposal an “unlawful delegation” of power.

The language in question appears at the top of each departmental section in Sponsor Substitute Senate Bill 20, the governor’s budget bill.

“At the discretion of the Office of Management and Budget, funding may be transferred between all appropriations in the Department,” SSSB 20 says under each departmental section.

Read our full story on that here.

— Kevin Baird

10:18 a.m.

“What cash is going out the door and to whom?” Sen. Natasha Von Imhof, R-Anchorage, asks.

She wants clarification if there is more money going to investment managers for the Permanent Fund.

Mike Barnhill, policy director for the Office of Budget and Management, said there’s been confusion of how to report these costs. He said in the past these budgets were paid without an appropriation through cash flow. He said there’s been a national discussion on how to report those fees.

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, says he would like to see a more accurate comparison.

The committee takes a brief at ease as Barnhill looks for the numbers.

— Mollie Barnes

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, right, asks a question	during a Senate Finance Committee meeting with Lacey Sanders, Budget Director for the Office of Management and Budget, about consolidation of department positions on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, center, and Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, left, are also shown. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, right, asks a question during a Senate Finance Committee meeting with Lacey Sanders, Budget Director for the Office of Management and Budget, about consolidation of department positions on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, center, and Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, left, are also shown. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

10 a.m.

There’s some discussion about the cost of those 13 positions mentioned earlier. Sen. Natasha Von Imhof, R-Anchorage, said a quick calculation means those positions are costing about $200,000 each. She asks if those positions are policy consultants for the governor.

“They are not new positions, obviously they are new people within those positions,” said Shawn Henderson, administrative services director, noting the governor has always had policy consultants.

— Mollie Barnes

9:51 a.m.

The biggest budget change for the Office of the Governor is an increase resulting from Administration Services Directors switching from the Department of Administration to the Office of Budget and Management.

Thirteen positions total would be transferred.

Sen. Natasha Von Imhof, R-Anchorage, wants to make sure that the net cost of transferring these positions is zero.

— Mollie Barnes

9:50 a.m.

Next up for budget discussions is the Office of the Governor.

“There’s no plan to eliminate this department?” joked Senate Finance Chair Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, at the beginning of the presentation to some laughs.

— Mollie Barnes

9:27 a.m.

Now the Senate Finance committee is talking about taking away state funding for Alaska Public Broadcasting.

We wrote about that here: Alaska’s radio, TV contribution on the chopping block

— Mollie Barnes

Cheryl Lowenstein, Director of the Division of Administration Services, left, speaks to the Senate Finance Committee with Lacey Sanders, Budget Director for the Office of Management and Budget, consolidation of departments on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Cheryl Lowenstein, Director of the Division of Administration Services, left, speaks to the Senate Finance Committee with Lacey Sanders, Budget Director for the Office of Management and Budget, consolidation of departments on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

9:12 a.m.

The Senate Finance committee is going over different aspects of the budget, including the Department of Administration.

Cheryl Lowenstein, the director from the department is presenting. The budget for the DoA is increasing due to consolidation of other agencies into the DoA, she said.

Some senators are requesting more details on the shift and services being consolidated into the DoA.

“You talked about internal services, $26 million, in terms of consolidating and taking over the duties of other agencies,” said Sen. Natasha Von Imhof, R-Anchorage. “Are we seeing a corresponding reduction in other agencies as the administration is taking over some of these functions? How is the net fund effect actually going to work?”

— Mollie Barnes

9:05 a.m.

It was a quiet weekend in Juneau with so many legislators leaving town for constituent meetings in Anchorage and the Jack Coghill funeral in Nenana. The week’s schedule is thick with committee meetings that are primarily focused on the budget.

— Kevin Baird

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