Legislature will end special session today

There will be no grand ceremonies or speeches as the Alaska Legislature ends the fourth special session of the 30th Alaska Legislature today. In fact, most legislators won’t even be in the capital city.

At 10 a.m., the Alaska House of Representatives is expected to follow the example of the Alaska Senate, which quietly adjourned in a five-minute Saturday technical session. The only lawmakers present for that session were Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, and Senate President Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks.

Lawmakers will end the session without progress on the effort to solve Alaska’s $2.7 billion annual budget deficit, but they can put a significant criminal justice bill on their list of successes. Senate Bill 54 passed the Senate 11-8 Nov. 10 after passing the House 32-8 earlier in the session. The American Civil Liberties Union has vowed to sue over what it calls an unconstitutional provision in the bill. Gov. Bill Walker has said he will sign the bill despite the threat of lawsuit.

House lawmakers kept the session alive after the vote on SB 54 just in case the Alaska Senate Majority changed its position on a state income tax. The Senate Majority has consistently opposed the imposition of a state income tax, and it did not alter that position before the end of the session.

No additional special sessions are expected before the Legislature returns to Juneau for the start of the regular session in January.

Even without an additional special session, lawmakers have been in the capitol more than ever before. When the session concludes today, lawmakers will have been in session for 211 days, breaking the old single-year record set in 2006.

Despite that record, lawmakers passed the fewest bills in any year since statehood.

Senate Bill 54 was only the 32nd bill passed by the Legislature this year, according to the Legislature’s own statistics. The previous low was 39 bills in 2011.

While the Legislature will not be in session after today’s adjournment, occasional out-of-session meetings will still take place. The first of these will happen after adjournment this morning, as the joint House-Senate Legislative Council meets at 10:30 a.m. to consider the creation of a working group to write a sexual harassment policy for Legislative staff. The Alaska Senate Majority asked for the creation of such a policy two weeks ago, following an incident earlier this year involving Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla.

The House-Senate Select Committee on Legislative Ethics will meet next week on a topic that has not been announced to the public.

At 6 p.m. Dec. 4, the House Resources Committee will meet telephonically in Anchorage to hear a presentation from Keith Meyer, president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation. Meyer will deliver an update on the progress of the AKLNG trans-Alaska gas pipeline project.

Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget will be released in mid-December, one month before lawmakers return to Juneau for the regular session.


• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.


More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 26

Here’s what to expect this week.

The Alaska Department of Health And Social Services building in Juneau has no visible signs indicating the department is splitting into two agencies as of Friday. Top officials at the department said many of the changes, both physical and in services, are likely weeks and in some cases months away. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Little sign of big change for DHSS

No commissioner at new department, other Dept. of Health and Social Services changes may take months

Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, 320 W. Willoughby Ave., will be open as a cooling center through Wednesday for elders who need a cool place during the ongoing heatwave. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Tlingit and Haida opens cooling center for elders

Keep your cool during the heatwave.

An Alaska Seaplanes Cessna 208A, seen here on the tarmac, suffered damage after failing to achieve takeoff near Elfin Cove on Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Courtesy photo / Alaska Seaplanes)
No one hurt after plane’s takeoff goes awry

The aircraft failed to achieve take off and hit the beach while leaving Elfin Cove.

A 13-year-old girl was medevaced Saturday after being struck by a vehicle near the crosswalk across Egan Drive by Gold Creek. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Teen in serious condition after SUV strikes bike

Juneau Police Department is investigating.

The Norwegian Sun sat moored in Juneau on Monday after striking striking ice Saturday afternoon near Yakutat Bay on its way to Skagway. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Update: Cruise ship that struck iceberg departs Juneau

It’s heading to Seattle for repairs.

Drag queen Gigi Monroe reads a book about a wig during Drag Storytime at the Mendenhall Valley Public Library. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
One for the books: Drag Storytime returns

Balloons, books, bustin’ moves.

FILE - Tara Sweeney, a Republican seeking the sole U.S. House seat in Alaska, speaks during a forum for candidates, May 12, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. Sweeney's campaign manager said, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, that the campaign did not plan to sue over a finding released by Alaska elections officials stating that she cannot advance to the special election for U.S. House following the withdrawal of another candidate. (AP Photo / Mark Thiessen, File)
Alaska Supreme Court ruling keeps Sweeney off House ballot

In a brief written order, the high court said it affirmed the decision of a Superior Court judge.

President Joe Biden signs into law S. 2938, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act gun safety bill, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Saturday, June 25, 2022. First lady Jill Biden looks on at right. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President signs landmark gun measure, says ‘lives will be saved’

The House gave final approval Friday, following Senate passage Thursday.

Most Read