Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN - Juneau
agutierrez (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.209.1799 | About Alexandra
Having missed it’s adjournment deadline, the Alaska State Legislature is still at an impasse over the Governor’s education bill.
Last night, the Alaska State Legislature failed to meet their 90-day deadline after the House and Senate couldn’t reach an agreement on a major education bill. Lawmakers stayed on the floor until 4am trying to wrap up their work, but it was not enough. Now, they’re back at the Capitol for a 91st day of session trying to hammer out a deal.
Because the Legislature did not meet its midnight deadline, three citizen’s initiatives are expected to be moved from the August primary to the November general election.
All session, legislative leadership has promised to gavel out early, to be home in time for the Easter holiday. That didn’t happen. In fact, the Legislature did not gavel out at all. With the House and Senate struggling to make a deal on education, lawmakers are forced into extra innings.
After wrestling with how to approach the state’s massive unfunded liability for months, the Alaska Senate unanimously agreed to put $3 billion toward the public employee pension system just hours after their plan was released.
An effort to resurrect parts of House Bill 77 was abandoned on Friday night.
The Alaska State House has voted in favor of Gov. Sean Parnell’s plan to shore up the state’s pension system.
The new law puts a set of recently adopted regulations into statute, and takes them a step further It specifies that the state will not pay for elective abortions. It limits the term “medically necessary” to cases where a woman’s life or physical health is at risk.
At $245 million, the biggest item in the capital budget before the Legislature is a power plant for the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The plant is needed to replace an old one that’s at risk of breaking down. The project is now before the House Finance Committee for review, and lawmakers are less surprised by the price tag than by how the funding package works in the first place.
Earlier this month, lawmakers announced they were killing House Bill 77, saying that emotions had become so inflamed over the permitting bill that it was best left alone. But now, some of its less controversial provisions might be coming back in a different form.
As initiative supporters cried dirty tricks, the House narrowly passed a minimum wage bill that has the potential to knock their proposition off the ballot. The night only got more tense when the Speaker of the House fired back on the floor.
The bill defines the term “medically necessary,” so it only covers physical harm – not psychological harm. Critics believe it will make it harder for low-income women to have access to abortion.
The Legislature has made little progress on Gov. Sean Parnell’s goal of addressing the state’s looming retirement problem. Parnell hopes to change that by filing a bill that reintroduces his plan to deal with Alaska’s $12 billion unfunded liability.
The Alaska State House opened debate on a bill putting limits on state Medicaid payments for abortions on Thursday, only to shelve it and delay a final vote to Sunday.
After rejecting a request that oil industry experts be required to testify under oath, the Senate Resources Chair cut off microphones when the Minority Leader attempted to explain why he thought the request was appropriate.
While a minimum wage bill that could pre-empt a ballot initiative is on the fast track in the Alaska State House, Senate leadership says the idea unlikely to get traction in their body.
The State is looking into the legality of using money earmarked for building repairs to construct a new tennis complex in Anchorage. The multi-million-dollar grant was suspended after Mayor Dan Sullivan’s opponent in the lieutenant governor’s race called the decision into question.
The sponsor of a constitutional amendment to reconfigure the Judicial Council says he wants a vote on the bill, even if the outcome is not guaranteed to be favorable.