Legislature considers special session move to Anchorage LIO
Last updated at 6:59 p.m. Thursday, June 2
JUNEAU — The Alaska Legislature is considering a move to the Legislative Information Office (LIO) building in Anchorage for the ongoing special session, according to Senate President Kevin Meyer and House Speaker Mike Chenault.
A biennial festival of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures hosted by SeaAlaska Heritage will be held in Juneau from June 8 to 11. The event draws about 5,000 people into the Juneau area, according to the SeaAlaska Heritage website. Many local hotels have already been reserved for the event.
Chenault says he has to move out of his hotel room by then. According to Meyer, his members are struggling to find accommodations, as well.
“There’s just a lot of logistic problems we’re having right now. It certainly would be easier to move it now up to Anchorage. The problem is that Anchorage is not a cheap place in the summer either, for hotels, but the majority of our people live in Anchorage and surrounding areas of the Valley and Kenai that I think cost-wise it probably would be a wash,” said Meyer.
Meyer says discussions are still preliminary. Calling a special session in Anchorage would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature — and the Anchorage Republican says he’s not sure the Senate has the votes yet for that.
Chenault is still discussing the possibility with his members.
Another option: Gov. Bill Walker could amend the special session call to Anchorage. Meyer says that is the next discussion to be had.
“Obviously, we want to work with the governor on this, so that he knows what we’re doing and not trying to, now that we’ve got the budget done, cut and run — as I think he alluded to yesterday,” he said.
If lawmakers move, Meyer says work would likely continue through Monday before taking a three- to four-day recess to set up in the new location.
“It kind of makes sense maybe to move to Anchorage with now the tax bills that the governor wants, as well as the PFD restructure bill that the governor wants, and bring those two to the people in Anchorage,” he said.
The state has already paid to rent the Anchorage LIO building through the end of June. Appropriations made in a budget passed by the Legislature Tuesday would continue payment on the space through the end of the summer. It’s also paying $15,000 a month to rent office space at the Bill Ray Center in Juneau.
“We shouldn’t be paying for both, and we do have some staff in the LIO in Anchorage and so we should be utilizing that for what we’re paying,” Meyer said.
Walker responded to the possibility Thursday evening in an emailed statement. He said: “I sense legislators are on the cusp of a breakthrough, so I don’t want to interrupt the momentum by changing the location of the special session call.”
Meyer expects a decision to be made Friday.
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