The Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks | Juneau Empire File)

The Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks | Juneau Empire File)

Restored to full strength, Alaska House of Representatives will begin to move legislation

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky as R-Bethel; it should have been D-Bethel. This article has been updated to reflect the change.

After a week of little progress, the Alaska Legislature will look to get back on track, and more specifically the fast track, this week.

With Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, D-Anchorage, and Rep. David Guttenberg, R-Fairbanks, expected to return to the Capitol after medical scares, the Alaska House of Representatives is expected to consider House Bill 321, the stopgap fast-track appropriations bill, on Monday. Any delay would push it to Wednesday.

That bill contains $26 million in funding to keep the Alaska Marine Highway System operating past April 16, plus money for various other state programs. Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, said he expects to amend the bill on the House floor to include money for Medicaid operations as well.

The pace of business on the House floor should accelerate this week with the arrival of Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, D-Bethel. Zulkosky replaces Zach Fansler in representing House District 38. Her admission into the Legislature brings the coalition House Majority to 22 members (assuming Guttenberg and Spohnholz arrive as scheduled) this week. The House Majority has struggled to muster a 21-person majority this year, which means bills (including HB 321) have been delayed rather than put to a vote in the floor.

Those bills will begin to see votes Monday and throughout the week if the House’s majority is restored as expected.

Gun control public testimony

The House Judiciary Committee will take public testimony from 1-3 p.m. today and 7-9 p.m. tonight on House Bill 75, a proposal by Rep. Geran Tarr, D-Anchorage to allow courts to issue orders temporarily seizing the weapons of people deemed a danger to themselves or others. The order could be requested by a police officer or a close family member and may last no longer than six months.

The committee has already heard one day of public testimony, which was overwhelmingly in support of the bill. The committee has scheduled a meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday to further consider the bill.

PFD guarantee considered

The House Finance Committee will discuss House Joint Resolution 23 at 1:30 p.m. Monday and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. This resolution contains a proposed constitutional amendment that includes a concrete formula for taking money from the Alaska Permanent Fund for state services and an annual dividend. According to the formula, 5 percent of the fund’s average value would be available each year. Of that amount, two-thirds would go to state services and one-third to a dividend of not less than $1,250.

Spending cap advances

Over in the Senate, the Senate Finance Committee will consider Senate Bill 196, a firmer state spending cap, starting at 9 a.m. Thursday. SB 196 is one of the cornerstones of the Senate Majority’s approach to solving the state’s long-term fiscal problems. While ineffective on its own, Senate lawmakers envision pairing SB 196 with a constitutional amendment that updates the state’s existing spending cap, which has never been approached.

Alcohol reform on tap

The Senate Labor and Commerce Committee will take public testimony at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday on portions of a sweeping revision of Alaska’s laws governing alcohol sales. Senate Bill 76, which has been in the works for several years, would be the first major rewrite of Title 4 of Alaska law since the 1980s. The 114-page bill has been under consideration by a committee of alcohol experts for almost five years.


 

• Contact reporter James Brooks at jbrooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.

 


 

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