Anchorage attorneys sue Dunleavy over special session venue, attempt to block vetoes
A lawsuit filed on Monday claims Gov. Mike Dunleavy violated Alaska's Constitution when he ordered the Legislature to convene in Wasilla for the ongoing special session.
Anchorage attorneys Kevin McCoy and Mary Geddes filed the suit. Both have lived in Alaska for more than 30 years, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit cites Alaka's Constitution, which allows the governor to call the legislature into a special session.
It also cites Alaska statutes, which state, "a special session may be held at any location in the state" and that "the governor shall designate the location in the proclamation."
The move to call a special session outside of the capital is an unprecedented one, according to the suit. The attorneys claim the proclamation is to blame for some state legislators showing up in Wasilla, unable to form a quorum, with others in Juneau, lacking the votes to take action.
"Defendant Dunleavy's unilateral proclamation ordering the Legislature to convene in a location other than the capital in Wasilla caused great confusion among legislators and citizens. [...] The confusion over the lawful location of the second special session, caused entirely by defendant Dunleavy's unlawful proclamtion, had the effect of preventing the full Legislature - as a body - from meeting, debating, and evaluating whether or not defendant Dunleavy's 182 line-item vetoes should be overridden within the five-day limit imposed by Article II, Section 16 of the Constitution."
The suit claims Dunleavy's proclamation and the law he says gives him the power to send lawmakers to Wasilla violates the Separation of Powers Doctrine.
"Purportedly giving the Governor the power to unilaterally determine venue for a special legislative session invites the exercise of arbitrary power and improperly intrudes on the independence of the legislature. The statute shares the same constitutional infirmity as would a statute enacted by the legislature that required the Governor to work in his Anchorage office the second week of each month. Under the Constitution and the doctrine of separation of powers, the Governor gets to decide where to do his work and fulfill his responsibilities; so does the Legislature."
The lawsuit requests an injunction that would prevent Dunleavy from implementing the 182 line-item vetoes until the legislature has "had its constitutionally guaranteed opportunity to meet following a lawfully proclaimed special session and determined as a body within the five-day override window whether to override one or more of the Governor's 182 vetoes."
It also seeks to discredit any proceedings conducted under the governor's June 13 proclamation.
A request for comment was not immediately returned by the Governor's Office Tuesday.
This is the second lawsuit filed in a week's time over the special session venue.
Last week, former North Pole representative Al Vezy filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, and Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, for their decision to convene members in Juneau for the special session that Dunleavy intended to be held in Wasilla.
The lawsuit seeks an order that declares the legislative session in Juneau illegal and says any action taken during that session is null and void; it also asks for an injunction to compel Giessel and Edgmon to convene the Legislature in Wasilla.
A request for expedited consideration filed in that case was rejected, due to not meeting "court standards" for filing. Vezy said he planed to re-file the request Tuesday or Wednesday.
It is unclear which lawsuit will be heard in court first.
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