By Dave Donaldson
This year’s legislative session is over. But the work is not complete – and no one is going home. The special session begins this afternoon.
For the first time in the state’s history, the House and Senate sessions did not end with a gavel. The governor did it with a pen.
Article Two Section ten of Alaska’s Constitution says if the two houses cannot agree on the time of adjournment, and either house certifies the disagreement to the governor. He may adjourn the legislature. I did so at 10:48 pm this evening.
The House and Senate had reached an impasse over both the capital projects budget and the operating budget. Both bodies asked the governor to intervene. The Senate in a brief letter, the House in a Resolution supported by thirty three members. The House faulted the Senate for its intention to continue the session beyond the statutory ninety-day session limit. House Majority Leader Alan Austerman explained to members that the House planned to honor the session limit.
We have communicated to the other body our desires to adjourn on the ninetieth day. They plan to continue on as if the ninety day session was not the will of the people. They have signaled to us that the 120-day session is fine with them.
Anchorage Democrat Mike Doogan was one of seven opponents to the resolution. He did not want the governor to intervene.
Given what we have in front of us, the governor has no business in this. And I think we’re doing substantial damage to our body and the other body and the system that we have by saying essentially we can’t do this ourselves, we gotta get the governor to come and save us.
After ending the session, the governor called a special session beginning today – limiting members to working on only ten issues – those budget bills are at the top of the list. He also will let them work on his scholarship program, coastal management, the Susitna hydroelectric dam, vocational education funding, and extending various boards and commissions. Oil Taxes are not in the mix.
The Special Session begins at one this afternoon and can run as long as thirty days.