Walker leaves location of special session to lawmakers
Sunday, October 1st 2017, 7:07 PM AKDT
Governor Bill Walker has called lawmakers back to work this month. The fourth special session this year is set to start on October 23 in Juneau where the last three special sessions were held, but now some lawmakers want to move session number four to Alaska’s largest city.
When asked why he chose Juneau last week, the Governor said, “Yes, it would be more convenient to have the special session in Anchorage. That's not where the capitol is… If the legislature would like to convene and move it to Anchorage, I won't oppose that.”
Rep. Chris Birch (R-Anchorage) sent a letter to Walker asking him to consider amending his special session proclamation. Birch says holding hearings in Anchorage would not only save the state money but also cut costs for members of the public who want to participate.
“From my experience in local government, there's nothing that can really replace the face-to-face discussion and dialogue that happens in the public testimony and hearings," said Birch. "We're not talking about moving the capital, we're talking about a cost-savings and permitting the public direct access to their legislature as they consider the important issues of anti-crime legislation and the governor's proposed income tax."
When asked which location they’d prefer, six of the 18 house minority members, including Birch, responded Sunday, all saying they are in favor of holding the special session in Anchorage.
Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) didn’t say which location he prefers during an interview but expressed concern for the productivity of the session.
“I think the location thing is just a side game,” he said, later adding, “I'm less concerned about where it is than I am about solving a half-a-billion-dollar deficit, and if people are moving things around but they'll vote to solve the deficit, that's great.”
KTVA also reached out to a spokesperson for the Senate Majority Sunday but did not hear back.