Clock ticking on lawmakers with crime bill, PFD undecided
The Senate delayed an expected vote on a sweeping crime bill on Monday as the Legislature approaches its final two days.
The Senate will return to the floor at 8 a.m. and continue debate on House Bill 49, an effort to scale back portions of Senate Bill 91, the much-maligned crime bill passed three years ago and since linked to soaring crime rates.
Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, said she’s confident the bill will receive a full vote Tuesday morning for the House to receive.
“We’re holding the bill till tomorrow because there’s still several amendments that members want to make and they’re still being drafted,” she said in the Capitol hallways. “They have to drafted by legal, attorneys to make sure they’re accurate and they just aren’t ready yet. So, it’s only fair to wait and allow all the members to have that opportunity to offer their amendments.”
The House meets at 10:30 a.m. and must still agree with the Senate’s changes or the bill will be referred to a special committee to work out differences.
A similar but separate special committee made some progress on negotiations over the state’s operating budget.
Some key developments include:
- Cutting the University of Alaska’s budget by $5 million rather than the $134 million sought by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
- Keeping the cruise ship environmental oversight program, known as they ocean rangers. These funds come from passenger fees and have no effect on the budget.
- Fully funding the school bond debt reimbursement for the upcoming fiscal year, which will be about $50 million.
But it still leaves a decision on how much a Permanent Fund dividend will be paid to Alaskans in October.
The Senate placed enough money to cover a $3,000 dividend, the sum that follows the statutory formula; the House didn’t appropriate any when it completed its version, saying it would wait to negotiate the sum with the Senate.
Lawmakers have until Wednesday at midnight to adjourn. That’s the 121st day, the constitutional limit. The Legislature can extend the session by a two-thirds vote of each chamber — 14 in the Senate and 27 from the House.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy could call them back into a special session and would have to do so within an hour after the second chamber adjourns. Otherwise, he would have to issue a proclamation at least 30 days in advance.
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