One-third of Legislature prepared to meet in Wasilla for special session
It's day one of a second special session, this one on the Permanent Fund dividend, but lawmakers are still at odds with the governor and each other on where to meet.
While a majority of legislators were slated to gavel into session in Juneau, per a joint call from House and Senate leadership, the Legislature's Mat-Su delegation says at least 20 planned show up for work in Wasilla Monday afternoon.
"Our whole purpose here is to follow the law, to follow the proclamation that Gov. Dunleavy brought forward to us," said Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard in a live interview Monday morning.
Sullivan-Leonard and Sen. Shelley Hughes are co-chairs of the Mat-Su delegation. While neither the House nor Senate is expected to have enough members present to constitute a quorum for doing official state business in Wasilla, both lawmakers say they hope to persuade colleagues in Juneau to reconsider meeting there.
"I believe that the work of the people needs to be done, and to be legitimate it needs to be here at this point," Hughes said in a live interview from Wasilla Middle School Monday — adding that any action taken by lawmakers in Juneau could face a legal challenge.
While state statute allows a governor who calls a special session to select its location, Senate President Cathy Giessel has countered that the constitution gives legislators the authority, under separation of powers, to determine the session site.
A veto override requires approval from 45 of the legislature's 60 members. If at least 16 members decide not to meet in Juneau, it would mean that lawmakers in the capitol would be without sufficient numbers to take such action.
"It literally makes it impossible, unless legislators down in Juneau come here," said Hughes.
From the time lawmakers gavel into special session, they have a five-day window to override any of the governor's budget vetoes.
In a statement following the governor's vetoes, House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt said House Republicans would not consider veto overrides.
“If our caucus does decide to revisit any of the governor’s reductions, we will do that through the capital budget or a supplemental budget, and not through the process of veto override," Pruitt said in a June 28 statement.
When asked about overrides Monday, Sullivan-Leonard said, "We really don't know what's going to happen at this point. If the legislators were here in Wasilla, couldn't we talk about that?"
Both the House and Senate were slated to convene at 1 p.m. Monday.
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