Special Session Gets Underway

The special session of the legislature got underway this afternoon with a three-item agenda for members to work with – picking up issues that didn’t make it through the regular session that adjourned Sunday night.

On the call for consideration are three subjects:  an in-state gas line from the North Slope to South Central, a bill strengthening the state’s fight against sex crimes,  and a bill rewriting the state’s oil tax regime.

The Senate took the first action by amending the sex crimes bill to make sex trafficking illegal inside the state.  Anchorage Democrat Bill Wielechowski carried the argument, saying the current law only addressed sex trafficking across state lines.

Interestingly, if you traffic a young native woman from Aniak. You put her on a bush plane and fly her to Bethel.  You fly from Bethel to Anchorage,  Anchorage to Juneau,  Juneau to Ketchikan,  you have not violated the human trafficking law in Alaska.   Because we have a provision that it has to occur across state lines.

Wielechowski’s amendment removed five words from the statutes:  ”to come to the state.”  It passed without disagreement and will be voted on tomorrow.  The House must agree with the change before sending it to the governor.

The in-state gas line bill, through a parliamentary rule change,  has avoided further hearings before House committees.   It will open in a Senate committee tomorrow morning.

Governor Parnell introduced an oil tax bill that he presented as a combination of elements from separate bills that had been in the House and the Senate.   The Department of Revenue initially estimates a total fiscal impact of reducing state revenue between $1.1 and $1.3-Billion dollars per year.

That bill will be heard in the Senate Resources Committee this afternoon.

The special session can last thirty days.