Alaska Legislature

Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, right, listens to David Teal, fiscal analyst for the Alaska Legislature, during a Senate Finance Committee meeting at the Capitol on Monday, April 3, 2017. Sen. Dunleavy offered amendments to the operating budget bill to cut funding for public broadcasting and significantly reduced funding for the Alaska Marine Highway system. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Senate plan slashes education, university, transportation, health services

The Alaska Senate has proposed slashing the state’s public education system, university system, department of transportation, and health care. The Senate Finance Committee on Monday… Continue reading

Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, right, listens to David Teal, fiscal analyst for the Alaska Legislature, during a Senate Finance Committee meeting at the Capitol on Monday, April 3, 2017. Sen. Dunleavy offered amendments to the operating budget bill to cut funding for public broadcasting and significantly reduced funding for the Alaska Marine Highway system. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)
Lemon Creek Correctional Center is seen in this undated photo. The Alaska Senate advanced a criminal justice reform rollback on Monday that could have untold costs for the prison system. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire file)

Criminal justice reform rollback nears a vote in the Senate

A bill allowing judges to impose tougher sentences for many crimes is advancing toward a vote in the Alaska Senate. The Alaska Senate Finance Committee… Continue reading

Lemon Creek Correctional Center is seen in this undated photo. The Alaska Senate advanced a criminal justice reform rollback on Monday that could have untold costs for the prison system. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire file)

Alaska House is on pace for a record number of bills

The Alaska House of Representatives has been a factory for legislation this year. Through Thursday, the 73rd day of the legislative session, members of the… Continue reading

Senate to considers limits of criminal justice reform rollback

How much is too much of a rollback? On Monday, the Alaska Senate Finance Committee will debate a final amendment to Senate Bill 54, a… Continue reading

Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, speaks at the Native Issues Forum in the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Thursday, March 30, 2017. The event is hosted by Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Cheers for first Alaska Native House Speaker, state income tax

There aren’t many crowds in Alaska that will cheer for an income tax. In a lunchtime address, the state’s first Alaska Native Speaker of the… Continue reading

Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, speaks at the Native Issues Forum in the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Thursday, March 30, 2017. The event is hosted by Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)
Rolling back criminal justice reform would cost Alaska millions

Rolling back criminal justice reform would cost Alaska millions

Senate Bill 91, one of the biggest changes to Alaska’s criminal justice system in decades, was touted as using an evidence-based approach to emphasize treatment… Continue reading

Rolling back criminal justice reform would cost Alaska millions
David Teal, director of the Legislative Finance Division, shares financial models for House Bill 115 and Senate Bill 26 with members of the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 in the Capitol. (James Brooks | Juneau Empire)

Open ears at the Capitol

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre sat confidently in front of the House Finance Committee on Tuesday morning and presented the perfect plan to fix… Continue reading

David Teal, director of the Legislative Finance Division, shares financial models for House Bill 115 and Senate Bill 26 with members of the House Finance Committee on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 in the Capitol. (James Brooks | Juneau Empire)

A push to revive Alaska’s pension system

A push to revive Alaska’s public pension system is under way in the state House of Representatives, where a Juneau lawmaker has suggested a measure… Continue reading

Capital decode: One-sentence summaries of all new legislation in the Alaska Legislature

The pace of new bills in the Alaska Legislature is continuing to slow as lawmakers deal with what’s already on their plate. Between March 10… Continue reading

House passes procedural vote, sending state budget plan to Senate

Alaska’s $9.7 billion annual budget advanced to the Senate on Friday, following a procedural vote in the House. Lawmakers earlier this week approved the spending… Continue reading

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, shares her support during a rally held by Alaskans for Life, Inc. on Jan. 22, 2015 on the steps of the Capitol Building. (Sarah Cannard | Juneau Empire)

Statewide smoking ban may be decided by one legislator ─ again

Last year, Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, tried to ban smoking in bars and restaurants statewide. His proposal was the first bill introduced into the 29th… Continue reading

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, shares her support during a rally held by Alaskans for Life, Inc. on Jan. 22, 2015 on the steps of the Capitol Building. (Sarah Cannard | Juneau Empire)

House’s proposed income tax would hit rich Alaskans most, but you’ll pay too

The coalition leading the Alaska House of Representatives has a plan to erase Alaska’s $2.7 billion annual deficit in three years. You’ll pay for part… Continue reading

Uber drives through Alaska Senate; lawmakers vote 14-5 on bill that advances to House

Uber and Lyft may soon arrive on a street near you. In a 14-5 vote Thursday evening, the Alaska Senate approved Senate Bill 14, which… Continue reading

Alaska Legislators try to put lid on ‘eye wars’

If you have a moment, Alaska’s eye surgeons would like your ears. On public radio and KINY-AM, they’re advertising their message. Part of it goes… Continue reading

Gov. Bill Walker signs SB 91 in front of Sen. Donald Olson, D-Golovin, left, Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, D-Anchorage, and Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, in his Capitol conference room on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. The bill authorizes the chief medical officer of the Department of Health and Social Services to issue a standing order for the prescription of an opioid overdose drug. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Gov. Walker signs bill extending drug-abuse emergency through 2021

Lawmakers called Senate Bill 91 a tourniquet, a fire extinguisher and a defibrillator. The state’s top doctor said the metaphor isn’t important. What is important… Continue reading

Gov. Bill Walker signs SB 91 in front of Sen. Donald Olson, D-Golovin, left, Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, D-Anchorage, and Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, in his Capitol conference room on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. The bill authorizes the chief medical officer of the Department of Health and Social Services to issue a standing order for the prescription of an opioid overdose drug. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

House sends bigger state budget to Senate

The music on the TV broadcast was Wu-Tang’s C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me), but Pink Floyd might have been just as appropriate. In a… Continue reading

House’s dubious amendments record foreshadows more money struggles to come

The Alaska House of Representatives has never heard this many budget amendments. On Friday afternoon, the House advanced to a final vote on its budget… Continue reading

Wasilla lawmaker would move Legislature to Anchorage, permanently

If a Wasilla lawmaker gets her way, the Alaska Legislature will pack up and move to Anchorage ─ permanently. On Friday, Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, R-Wasilla,… Continue reading

The Alaska State Capitol, pictured Jan. 21, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Lawmakers slash own pay

Lawmakers in the Alaska House on Thursday voted to slash their own pay. Members of the House voted 34-5 to cut legislators’ pay by almost… Continue reading

The Alaska State Capitol, pictured Jan. 21, 2017. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)
Senate President Pete Kelly watches the vote on SB 26 in the Senate chambers on Wednesday. The Senate voted to use a portion of earnings from the Alaska Permanent Fund to fund government and cap dividends at $1,000 per person. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

PFD on the chopping block

Lawmaker after lawmaker said the Senate does not relish the idea of touching what has long been a political third rail — the Permanent Fund… Continue reading

Senate President Pete Kelly watches the vote on SB 26 in the Senate chambers on Wednesday. The Senate voted to use a portion of earnings from the Alaska Permanent Fund to fund government and cap dividends at $1,000 per person. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)