Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, questions Angela Rodell, Chief Executive Officer of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, during a House State Affairs Committee meeting about House Bill 139 at the Capitol on Thursday, April 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, questions Angela Rodell, Chief Executive Officer of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, during a House State Affairs Committee meeting about House Bill 139 at the Capitol on Thursday, April 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Here’s some of the changes lawmakers are proposing to the PFD

Proposals involve including voters in PFD changes, protecting fund

After putting serious discussions off for the first 100 days of session, legislators are diving into Permanent Fund Dividend talks this week.

The House State Affairs Committee debated multiple proposals about the Permanent Fund and the dividend Thursday afternoon, including Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed constitutional amendment. The amendment (House Joint Resolution 6), which Dunleavy introduced Feb. 20, would require any changes to the PFD formula to be approved by a statewide vote.

Thursday’s hearing was the first hearing in the committee for the bills and proposed amendments, and the committee will pick them up again next week. At a future hearing (or hearings), there will be an opportunity for public testimony. Dates for that will be set later.

Members of the committee also heard House Bill 132 from Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, that would tie the PFD amount closer to the state’s oil and gas revenue. If the price or volume of oil production increases, the bill states, so does the dividend.

[Senate leaders optimistic Legislature will finish on time]

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, said she disagreed with the proposal, especially because the PFD was meant to try and offset the state’s reliance on volatile oil revenues, and this bill ties the dividend even more closely to oil prices. Wool said this bill helps ensure that the state won’t shell out large amounts of money in PFD payments if revenues are low.

Vance, who was cordial in her disagreement with Wool, posed a hypothetical question after hearing Wool’s explanation.

“Who do you represent,” Vance said, “the state or the people?”

Wool answered the question briefly, saying the people of Alaska and state government are “inextricably entwined” and that a good state government helps the people.

Angela Rodell, Chief Executive Officer of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, speaks to the House State Affairs Committee about House Bill 139 at the Capitol on Thursday, April 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Angela Rodell, Chief Executive Officer of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, speaks to the House State Affairs Committee about House Bill 139 at the Capitol on Thursday, April 25, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

House Joint Resolution 18, proposed by Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tompkins, D-Sitka, seeks to combine the two funds in the Permanent Fund into one fund, and to protect it in the constitution. That proposal didn’t face many negative comments Thursday, as committee members on both sides of the aisle agreed with the general idea of protecting the Permanent Fund.

Both joint resolutions, because they’re amendments to the constitution, would require a two-thirds majority vote from the House and Senate.

In the other legislative body, the Senate Finance Committee is expected to start adding amendments to its budget proposal Friday morning, and Sen. Bert Stedman (co-chair of the committee) told media members Thursday that at least some of those amendments will be about the PFD.

During the committee’s meeting Thursday, Sen. Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage and co-chair of the committee, gave a brief preview of how passionate the discussions should be. She said she believes the statutory formula for the PFD is out of date and that the Legislature shouldn’t drain the state’s savings just to pay a large dividend now.

“By raiding the Permanent Fund,” von Imhof said, “and partaking extra draws on the earnings reserve account just so we can pay a full dividend — that statute was made 30 years ago, 40 years ago, that’s not applicable today — is fiscal insanity and irrational and irresponsible.”

Sen. Natasha Von Imhof, R-Anchorage, pictured here on Feb. 18, 2019, asks why adult preventative care was targeted for elimination, saying she has heard from providers that this service often will bring people into a clinic where they can be asked if they have other medical needs. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Sen. Natasha Von Imhof, R-Anchorage, pictured here on Feb. 18, 2019, asks why adult preventative care was targeted for elimination, saying she has heard from providers that this service often will bring people into a clinic where they can be asked if they have other medical needs. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, July 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Buttons on display at a campaign event Monday, July 8, 2024, in Juneau, urge supporters to vote against Ballot Measure 2, the repeal of Alaska’s current election system. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Ranked-choice repeal measure awaits signature count after Alaska judge’s ruling

Signatures must be recounted after judge disqualifies almost 3,000 names, citing state law violations.

The offices of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development in Juneau are seen on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska demographers predict population drop, a switch from prior forecasts

For decades, state officials have forecast major population rises, but those haven’t come to pass.

Neil Steininger, former director of the state Office of Management and Budget, testifies before the House Finance Committee at the Alaska State Capitol in January of 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neil Steininger, former budget director for Gov. Dunleavy, seeking District 1 Juneau Assembly seat

Downtown resident unopposed so far for open seat; deadline to file for local races is Monday.

A mother bear and a cub try to get into a trash can on a downtown street on July 2, 2024. Two male bears were euthanized in a different part of downtown Juneau on Wednesday because they were acting aggressively near garbage cans, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Two black bears in downtown Juneau euthanized due to aggressive behavior around people

Exposed garbage, people insistent on approaching bears contribute to situation, official says

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Cars arrive at Juneau International Airport on Thursday, July 11, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau seems to have avoided major disruptions following global technology-related outage

911 centers, hospitals, airport, and public safety and emergency management agencies are operating.

Most Read