Sunday, May 19, 2013
Special Legislative Session Ends
After a month long dispute over the capital budget, the senate was left to accept the house version of the captial budget or let the state go without one.
The special session finally came to end Saturday night after the State House adjourned three days before the 30-day special session was expected to end.
House Speaker Mike Chenault said he wasn’t happy about leaving early but didn’t see debate advancing, and as a result the Senate was left to accept the House version or leave the state without a budget.
The House passed its version on Friday and sent it back to the Senate Saturday, but then adjourned. The Senate wanted to force the bill to conference committee to have an opportunity to tweak last minute disagreements.
Both versions of the budget total about $3.2 billion and include $486 million for energy projects such as the Susitna dam hydroelectric project and the Mount Spurr geothermal project. There is also $400 million set aside for scholarships for the high school graduating class of 2011.
It also puts $1.1 billion into state savings, bringing the Legislature’s total savings to $2.5 billion, a request Gov. Sean Parnell commended.
Senator Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, said although he’s pleased with the outcome of the budget and he wished House members would have toughed it out for several more days.
“We’re disappointed. We had hoped that we could go to conference committee on the capital budget and get some things worked out that we had some concerns over,” he said.
On Sunday, lawmakers also failed to pass legislation that dealt with the state’s coastal management program, which allows locals who live on the coastline to have a say on development; the bill is set to expire July 1.
The bill passed in the Senate but failed in the House because of disagreements on the language. Democratic lawmakers are concerned 30 people will lose their jobs this summer as a result.
Parnell could call for a second special session to review the program before it expires.