The House has selected its members of the Permanent Fund working 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).
Below is a memo sent from Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon about it.
According to the Legislature’s website, today’s House floor session is canceled. It’s scheduled to reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow.
Something notable in the capital budget: Not only does it include funding for reopening Palmer Correctional Center, but it includes funding for “housing prisoners in out-of-state facilities for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020,” according to the House’s document (page 28).
When the Legislature passed House Bill 49, the main crime bill this session, Rep. Chuck Kopp said the bill would almost certainly result in prisoners being sent out of state. This, I believe, is the first time we’ve seen it officially in writing.
We wrote in February about why many people caution against sending inmates out of state.
The Senate didn’t do anything, but appears to simply be waiting for the House to do its work. Still no word on a solid time for the House to meet. It sounds like early afternoon, but we’ll see.
Unrelated: Interesting tweet here from the House Minority’s press person Zachary Freeman. He says in his Twitter bio that the views on his account aren’t necessarily reflective of his employer, for what it’s worth.
— Zachary Freeman (@ZacharyGFreeman) June 11, 2019
Red pens, as we’ve seen, have become symbolic of the governor’s veto power, and many Dunleavy supporters are sending him red pens and carrying them around to show their support.
In the hallway outside the Senate, Sens. Shelley Hughes and Click Bishop pass each other. The two of them are on the PFD working group that will be meeting to develop recommendations for the future of the fund.
“I’m ready to get to work,” Bishop says.
“Me too. We should talk today,” Hughes says.
The Senate is preparing for a floor session now. It’s unclear what they’re going to do. It seems that the House is the only one that has any real decisions to make today. But we’ll see what happens.
Via the Legislative Finance Division, here’s a look at the past few years of the capital budget. If this does end up being about $1.4 billion, that will be generally on par with the budgets of the past couple years. The capital budget, in general, has been shrinking for the past six years, according to this data, and has been in the area of $1.4-1.6 billion for the past four years.
EDIT: As it’s been explained to me and by other reporters, apparently the draw of about $160 million from the Constitutional Budget Reserve is what requires the 3/4 vote. So it’s a much larger number than what I previously thought below.
Another interesting aspect of this is that about $17 million in funding comes from the state’s power cost equalization endowment fund, which apparently requires a 3/4 vote from both bodies to be used. If the House Minority all bands together to vote against that, those members can stall this bill.
A little bit of a curveball here, as it looks like the committee is ready to approve this budget until Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard chimes in. She asks Wilson, the committee’s co-chair, if it’s possible to introduce amendments today.
Wilson asks Sullivan-Leonard if she has an amendment ready. Sullivan-Leonard, a Wasilla Republican, says she doesn’t currently have one but she might. Then she winks, I believe, at Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski.
After a short at-ease, Carpenter says he will not be voting for this and says there needs to be more thought put into this. Carpenter, Sullivan-Leonard and Wasilla Republican Rep. Cathy Tilton all vote no, but it isn’t enough to stop the bill. It passes, 8-3, and will go to the House floor.
Strange stuff. The meeting is adjourned. Now we await a House floor session.
One highlight in Henderson’s presentation is $12 million for addiction treatment. He says this money will be used to build more treatment facilities throughout the state.
House Finance is getting going. They’re discussing changes to the capital budget.
Remond Henderson, from Rep. Tammie Wilson’s staff, is in attendance to walk through the capital budget.
The waiting game continues. The House Finance Committee is on hold at the moment, meaning the capital budget is stuck in limbo. The House is scheduled to meet on the floor in about half an hour. They’ll likely select their four members for the PFD working group.
With the operating budget out of the way and the assumption that the PFD will have to wait for another session, the feeling is that this special session can basically end as soon as the capital budget is finished. But we’ll see if anyone has last-minute tricks up their sleeve.