Gov. Mike Dunleavy talks with local residents and people involved with this year’s legislative session during an annual welcoming reception hosted by city government and business leaders Tuesday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. Dunleavy is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the State address, the first of his second term, to a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature at 7 p.m. Monday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy talks with local residents and people involved with this year’s legislative session during an annual welcoming reception hosted by city government and business leaders Tuesday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. Dunleavy is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the State address, the first of his second term, to a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature at 7 p.m. Monday. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Rallies and State of the State set for Monday at the Capitol

Dunleavy to deliver annual address following two big-issue demonstrations.

More than just another manic Monday is in store at the Alaska State Capitol as protests involving the 50th anniversary of the recently overturned Roe v. Wade decision and educators unhappy about years of flat funding will precede Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s State of the State speech as he begins legislative work during his second term.

The annual demonstration by Alaskans for Life Inc. at noon is actually a day later than when the landmark abortion ruling was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, although numerous other related nationwide gatherings are happening before or after Sunday.

But that means the local event will be competing for attention and headlines with the educators scheduled to gather in front of the Capitol at 6 p.m., a deliberate timing after Dunleavy announced his address to a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature will be at 7 p.m.

Dunleavy’s four-person communication’s staff began working several weeks ago on the State of the State speech, typically delivered during the second week of the Legislative session, Jeff Turner, a spokesperson for the governor, stated in an email interview.

“As far as what topics will be addressed in the speech, it is still being drafted,” he wrote.

The speech will be broadcast and streamed live by KTOO on Gavel Alaska.

A hint of words likely to come up can be gleaned from a comparison of inaugural and state of the state speeches by seven western state governors including Dunleavy by the Western Governors’ Association shows the words most commonly spoken are “education,” families,” “communities” “taxes,” “work” and “future.” Among the common words in the smallest type on the “cloud” map are “hope,” “neighbors” and “environment” (along with largely state-specific phrases including “carbon management.”)

In terms of Dunleavy addressing the issues raised by demonstrators during the day, education is among the obvious topics and abortion a possible one in the speech since the governor has frequently referred to both when discussing his agenda for this legislative session.

The midday demonstration by Alaskans For Life will have some extra motivation and political heft this year following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning Roe, which has resulted in a flurry of legislation to broaden or restrict rights in various states. Dunleavy has stated he intends to introduce a proposed constitutional amendment altering the Alaska Costitution-protected right to abortion, although he has acknowledged the makeup of the Legislature that includes a bipartisan Senate majority may lessen the restrictions he seeks.

“The overturning of Roe v Wade was a wonderful victory, but it has had virtually no effect in Alaska,” Ken Mattson, an administrator with Alaskans for Life, wrote in an announcement for the group’s rally. “We were a pro-abortion state before Roe v Wade and we are a pro-abortion state after Roe v Wade.”

Fourth Street between Main Street and Seward Street will be closed to vehicular traffic between noon and 1 p.m. for the rally. It will also be closed between 6 and 7 p.m. for the education rally.

The Juneau Pro-Choice Coalition, which has scheduled its annual Lunafest fundraiser commemorating the anniversary of Roe for Friday, has not announced official plans for its own rally on Monday.

Educators are protesting the flat funding via the Base Student Allocation that has failed to keep pace with inflation during the past decade, to the chagrin of many school staff and lawmakers who’ve sought to increase funding. Dunleavy is again proposing flat funding education in his proposed budget for next year, while acknowledging he is willing to treat it as a first draft while working with legislators during the coming months.

“I think a lot of what we’re hearing coming out of the new Legislature is they’re ready to make a substantial increase in student funding, which is encouraging,” said Chris Heidemann, president of the Juneau Education Association, one of the sponsors of the event.

While the issues the teachers and other rally participants will raise have often been heard by most lawmakers inside the Capitol, “I think they need to be confronted with it more often,” Heidemann said.

Michael Bucy, a music teacher at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School and lead organizer of the rally, said competing for attention with the abortion rally was something that never entered his mind when scheduling the education event an hour before the governor’s speech.

“My focus was on the reaction to governor’s statement when he came out with his budget and said flat fund education and give a $3,900 Permanent Fund dividend,” he said, adding the money spent on PFDs of $3,284 last year was more than the general fund allocation for K-12 and University of Alaska combined.

• Contact reporter Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October, 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for t​​he Week of Sept. 17

Here’s what to expect this week.

Jordan Creek flows over a portion of a footbridge behind a shopping center Thursday evening. The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Jordan Creek, Montana Creek and Auke Lake until 10 a.m. Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Flood warning for Jordan Creek, Montana Creek and Auke Lake issued until 10 a.m. Friday

Glacier Highway, structures near Jordan Creek may inundated, according to National Weather Service.

Soon-departing Assembly member and Deputy Mayor Maria Gladziszewski smiles for a photo at her seat in the Assembly chambers Thursday afternoon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Q&A: Deputy Mayor Gladziszewski prepares for departure, shares advice to candidates

The long-serving Juneau Assembly member nears the end of her final term.

Participants in the 38th Annual International Coastal Cleanup carry a fishnet to a boat on a coast near Sitka in August. (Ryan Morse / Sitka Conservation Society)
Resilient Peoples and Place: Coastal cleanup removes 1,400 lbs. of trash from Sitka’s beaches

Effort by wide range of groups part of global project that has collected 350 million lbs. of waste.

Cars drive past the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation building in Juneau on Thursday. This year’s Permanent Fund dividend will be $1,312, the state Department of Revenue announced. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
This year’s official Permanent Fund dividend: $1,312

Distribution of payments will begin Oct. 5.

Albino Mbie, a Mozambique-born musician whose band is now based in Boston, performs during a youth jam at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Wednesday night as a prelude to the Áak’w Rock Indigenous music festival that starts Thursday. His band is scheduled to perform at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Áakʼw Rock ready for full-fledged opening as ‘monumental, historic event’

Youth jam Wednesday offers preview as only Indigenous music festival in U.S. makes in-person debut.

This is a photo of the front page of the Juneau Empire on Sept. 21, 2005. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Sept. 24

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Photo of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Jarvis, date unknown. (Courtesy of Jack Hunter/ All Present and Accounted For)
Of things Jarvis, heroic men and reindeer

Author Steven Craig giving a talk on David Jarvis and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Jarvis

Eleven of the 14 candidates seeking four seats on the Juneau Assembly in the Oct. 3 municipal election answer questions during a forum Friday night at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly candidates challenged to offer plan of action, not just talk, at Tlingit and Haida forum

11 of 14 contenders for four seats get extra time to respond to some tough questioning.

Most Read