90-Day Legislative Session Up for Debate

Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak

As the first year of the 27th Alaska State Legislature draws near, the 90-day session approved by voters in 2006 is in danger of being modified by the politicians it was intended to apply to. Prior to the 2008 session, legislators had 120 days to complete the people’s business. Now, Kodiak’s Gary Stevens, the senate president, said he would introduce legislation to modify the session length during at least one of the two years a legislature is comprised of.

He says that would allow the legislators to deal with the backlog of bills that would otherwise expire if not address in the second year of the two-year legislature.

Former Fairbanks Representative Jay Ramras was a supporter of the 90-day session when he was in the State House. He would not say what he thought of Stevens’ alternating year idea, but thinks the debate over any change will be lively.

Voters approved the initiative in November 2006 by a margin of 3,843 votes, or just 1.6-percent. The 90-day limit went into effect with the start of the 2008 legislative session.

While the legislature is required to abide by voter initiatives, they may change them after a two-year waiting period.

Several legislators earlier this year floated the idea of lengthening the session. So far, Stevens says reaction from his colleagues has been positive:

The new legislative session – for 90-days – kicks off on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

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