ANCHORAGE - The Legislature entered the second half of its 90-day session Friday, and as usual, most of the big decisions are still pending.
So far, four bills have passed.
The first one to be signed into law by Governor Parnell loosens pollution limits for marine discharges by cruise ships.
Although there's still a lot to do, legislators say they've been very busy, working days 12-to-14 hours long.
"Hot and heavy really fast; been a really busy session so far,” House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, said during his caucus’ weekly press availability Friday.
Parnell’s bill for a substantial cut in oil production taxes has cleared two Senate committees so far, and was heard Friday in the Senate Finance Committee.
Also on the energy front, the House Resources Committee Friday scrutinized a bill for a pipeline to deliver natural gas to Alaskan consumers.
The Senate today passed a bill to cut the corporate income tax for small- and medium-sized businesses. "So today we moved forward,” said Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage. “We reduced the amount that we are taking from those citizens that are taking those risks, working hard and producing value."
The House has passed a bill declaring all future federal gun laws null and void in Alaska.
Both chambers are looking at a proposed constitutional amendment allowing for public funds to go to private educational institutions.
And then there's the operating budget, up for public hearings next week. "We are faced with a situation where we don't have as much money to pay for what we have in the past, and we have to reduce," said Rep. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage.
On Sunday, the Legislature will mark one century of its own existence. "Beginning for a three-day celebration,” said Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak. “It should be just an enormous amount of fun for those of us who are history buffs."
And then for better or worse, they'll go back to making history.