Legislature to take break from special session next week
The Alaska Legislature is planning to recess for five to six days from special session in Juneau next week, according to Sen. President Kevin Meyer and House Speaker Mike Chenault. They said the Sealaska Heritage’s biennial “Celebration” will occupy most hotel space in town.
Chenault, R-Nikiski, says there’s no way to wrap up work by the time the event starts on Wednesday, unless he allows all of the governor’s bills to fail on the House floor. Currently, three of the governor’s bills — on motor fuel, fishing and mining taxes — are poised for a floor vote. Chenault says he’s waiting to take up those measures until the governor gathers enough “yes” votes for them to pass.
Rep. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, chair of the Rules Committee in charge of scheduling bills, says he gave the governor’s administration “chit sheets.” The yellow papers, commonly used by legislators in gathering support for legislation, include each members’ name with a “yes” or “no” box next to it. The corresponding member then initials one of the spaces to indicate a promised vote.
“We have them,” said Randall Hoffbeck, commissioner of the Department of Revenue, referring to the sheets. Hoffbeck said he planned to spend Friday afternoon gathering signatures.
Meanwhile, most members of the Senate flew home Friday afternoon, after adjourning until Monday morning.
“You know, a lot of folks didn’t go home for Memorial Day weekend because we were working on the budget,” Meyer, R-Anchorage, explained. “So this would kind of be a way for them to have their delayed memorial weekend and then we’ll hit the ground running on Monday.”
Meyer says the legislature will then likely recess on Tuesday, through the following Sunday. Chenault says he anticipates his body will do something similar, though the House will continue to meet this weekend.
“It’d be nice if the Senate did a lot of this stuff simultaneously while we’re working,” said House Minority Leader Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage. “That way when bills either pass from them to go out to us, we’re prepared, or for us to them, they’re prepared.”
A spokesperson for Gov. Bill Walker said he’d be meeting with House and Senate leadership over the weekend to discuss a break from special session next week.
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