House Finance Committee Heading to Anchorage

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

The House Finance Committee is taking the special legislative session to Anchorage.

The committee will hold two hearings there on Friday. The first will cover energy projects in the state capital budget, with testimony from Alaska Energy Authority and Alaska Housing Finance Corporation officials. The second will give Attorney General John Burns a chance to discuss the contingency language Senate leaders have put on a package of projects to protect them from Governor Sean Parnell’s veto threat. Tuesday, Burns said he believes the language is “unconstitutional.” A memo from a legislative lawyer released today Wednesday says it’s open to interpretation.

At a House Majority press conference Wednesday, Finance Co-Chair Bill Stoltze, a Chugiak Republican, said hearings held in Anchorage in the past have been a great success.

Stoltze says the committee will not take any action. He said he floated the idea of meeting in Anchorage to other members of the caucus who agreed to it. He added “there’s not a lot going on” in Juneau right now.

Most Democrats on the Finance Committee plan to skip the trip. Anchorage Representative Mike Doogan says it would be nice to sleep in his own bed, but the work is in Juneau.

Doogan and Fairbanks Representative David Guttenberg will attend the hearings by teleconference from Juneau. Anchorage Representative Les Gara will make the trip, so the minority has a presence in the room.

Legislative Affairs Director Pam Varni says the state will provide airfare, per diem, and room and board for finance committee members and some staff during the trip.

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