Friday, the Alaska State Legislature gaveled out, five days after they were supposed to. It’s the end to a grueling session that involved legislation on education and a major gasline project.
So, first off, what took them so long?
Gutierrez: Honesty? Politics. The most obvious fight was education funding. In the background, minimum wage. Major personal bills from leaderships were held up, especially on the House side. We saw Knik arm bridge fail on Wednesday night.
What caused the breakthrough?
Gutierrez: Well, once people have dug in their heels, there’s no point in dragging out a stalemate that will be unpopular with voters. Basically went down the middle with the education compromise. Plus staying long is unpopular with legislators themselves. Chenault in launchair, golf, John Wayne movies. They’re sitting around doing nothing and unhappy about it, and so are voters.
Are there any consequences for going longer than 90 days?
Gutierrez: Probably not. In the past when they’ve gone a little long, laws still stand. Constitutionally, can go until 121. But they are ignoring the statute and that was passed by voters. Spoke with the governor and he says he’s worried about the precedent, but was simply glad to be done. And quite frankly, everyone’s pretty glad to be out of here, including the press corps.