Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, poses questions to Department of Corrections and Office of Management and Budget officials during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, poses questions to Department of Corrections and Office of Management and Budget officials during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

What you can expect at the Capitol this week

Legislators will tackle budget, Murkowski and Sullivan to speak

The state Senate has been rolling. Now that Gov. Mike Dunleavy has released his budget and the House has a speaker in Rep. Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham, the 31st Legislative Session is finally moving at full speed.

[‘To hell with politics’: House speaker elected after two Republicans cross party lines]

With that in mind, what can Alaskans expect this week at the Alaska State Capitol?

First, there will be three joint sessions. At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski will address the Legislature. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R, will address the Legislature at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Then there is the State of the Judiciary, given by Alaska Supreme Court Justice Joel Bolger at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

“It used to be the most reliably boring address in the joint session,” Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau said. He explained how these addresses have become more interesting in recent years and worth paying attention to, though. “But with criminal justice reform and budget stuff, they’ve been more engaged in the how the courts have been able to work, not work with legislation.”

[Opinion by Gov. Dunleavy: My budget will be sustainable, predictable, affordable]

Senate

The Senate Finance Committee will continue working its way through the budget by going through departmental reviews. For example, the committee will review the Department of Health and Social Services on Monday.

“They continue to be spicy,” Kiehl said of the Finance Committee meetings. The spice Kiehl is referring to is the heated exchanges between some senators and Office of Management and Budget Director Donna Arduin as they discuss the budget.

As for the Senate Judiciary Committee, it will tackle Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s sex crimes bill, Senate Bill 35, which aims to close loopholes and increase penalties for sex offenses.

House

On Monday the House will continue to organize through its Committee on Committees. This committee will assign representatives to leadership roles and committee positions.

“Usually only us nerds are really interested in that,” Kiehl said of the Committee on Committees.

Chairing a committee gives a representative more power over a bill as it goes through committee. Whichever representatives are selected to chair the committees will play a larger role in setting policy in Alaska.

“I think this is going to be a fascinating structural thing,” Kiehl added. “Usually it’s all worked out before session.”

So far Reps. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, and Neal Foster, D-Nome, have been named co-chairs of the Finance Committee. Once that committee is filled, the House can get to work on the budget.


• Contact reporter Kevin Baird at 523-2258 or kbaird@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alaska_kev.


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