Andrew Kitchenman, APRN & KTOO - Juneau


Gov. Bill Walker has called the legislature into a special session to address the budget and other bills lawmakers failed to pass during the 121-day session that ended Wednesday.

The Legislature is preparing to vote on the capital and operating budgets Wednesday. But how the state will pay for the spending plans remains uncertain. And there’s much work left to do. So legislators expect Gov. Bill Walker to call them back into a special session. Download Audio
Governor Bill Walker pictured in April 2016. (Photo by Skip Gray, 360 North)

Alaska’s government has never in 40 years used permanent fund earnings to balance the state budget. That could change this year. How the Legislature and Governor Bill Walker handle a plan could have big implications on Alaskans’ Permanent Fund dividends. Download Audio

Wednesday is the last day of the extended legislative session, but Alaska still doesn’t have a budget for the fiscal year starting in July. In fact, legislators haven’t passed any of the major bills that Governor Bill Walker proposed to close the state’s $3-4 billion budget deficit. Download Audio
Gov. Bill Walker, pictured at a press availability on January 28, 2016. (File photo by Skip Gray, 360 North)

Governor Bill Walker said on Friday that the state government must have a say in which oil and gas projects are eligible for tax incentives. Download Audio

The Senate voted 14 to 5 today to approve a sweeping overhaul of Alaska’s criminal justice system. The action sends the bill to Governor Bill Walker’s desk. Download Audio
Water and sewer systems in communities across Alaska are threatened by flooding and erosion due to climate change. Shown here is the village of Kivalina located on a barrier island in Northwest Alaska that's facing inundation. Joaqlin Estus KNBA

The Senate Finance Committee voted on Thursday against adding $7 million in funding to replace the school in Kivalina. The additional funds were requested by Governor Bill Walker’s administration. Download Audio

The House could begin debate on the bill scaling back tax credits for oil and gas companies as soon as Friday. Download Audio

Lawmakers say cutting tax credits to oil and gas companies may be a necessary step to close the state government’s budget deficit. Download Audio

After weeks of delays, a bill to overhaul the state’s oil and gas taxes could advance quickly. The House Rules Committee held the first public hearing in more than three weeks on the legislation Tuesday. Download Audio
Juneau Police closed Kennedy Street between 5th and 4th Streets as they investigated the death of Juneau Mayor Greg Fisk on the evening of Monday November 30th. (Photo by: Mikko Wilson / KTOO)

When law enforcement officers and firefighters die in the line of duty, their survivors may be left without health insurance. Three families of state troopers who died in the past three years have been covered under orders issued by Governors Sean Parnell and Bill Walker. But a future administration could change this. The families are looking for a permanent solution that will cover themselves and other survivors in the future. But there's a debate over how that should happen. Download Audio
Gov. Bill Walker, pictured at a press availability on January 28, 2016. (File photo by Skip Gray, 360 North)

The Alaska House plans to continue pursuing a legal challenge to Gov. Bill Walker's authority to expand Medicaid on his own.
Alaska News Nightly by Alaska Public Media

The House voted 28-11 on Thursday to adopt one of the largest overhauls ever to Alaska's criminal justice system. It would allow some low-risk nonviolent offenders to avoid jail time. It also would establish a new pretrial services program with a goal of reducing recidivism. And it would allow those in treatment programs to receive credit for time served instead of imprisonment.

It’s been more than two weeks since the Legislature was scheduled to finish its session. But not only have lawmakers not finished their work, there’s been little progress recently – at least in public. There have been no public meetings on the contentious oil and gas tax bill. And no recent meetings on the state budget or making changes to the Permanent Fund.

Lawmakers found they had less room and not enough desks or phones to go around on Monday. That’s because they’re sharing space in Juneau’s Bill Ray Center while the Capitol is being renovated.

The Legislature didn’t do much work Friday, as lawmakers moved into their temporary digs in the Bob Ray Center while the Capitol is under construction. When House members return on Monday, they’ll debate whether to overhaul the state’s criminal sentencing laws. Supporters say the legislation will lower the risk of offenders returning to crime, but others are concerned that the bill goes too far in reducing penalties. Download Audio
Governor Bill Walker pictured in April 2016. (Photo by Skip Gray, 360 North)

The types of oil and gas companies that would benefit from state tax credits would change, under a bill the House Rules Committee unveiled Tuesday. Governor Bill Walker says he’s concerned about these changes. The bill also received a cool reception from industry. But it may be the best chance to resolve one of the thorniest issues facing the state. Download Audio

Lawmakers are continuing work in Juneau. The House Rules Committee on Tuesday unveiled the latest attempt to rewrite tax credits for the oil and gas industry. The bill would save the state more money over the next three years than a previous version. But the savings are much less than what Governor Bill Walker proposed. Download Audio

The Legislature didn’t take any actions Monday as it began the second week after the scheduled end of the session. But Senate President Kevin Meyer said he’d like to see the Legislature complete its work soon. Download Audio

Lawmakers are considering some of the most wide-ranging changes in the history of Alaska finances this year. That’s why the leaders of the House Finance Committee invited Governor Bill Walker and top state officials to talk about their budget plan – especially, the latest proposal to draw from Permanent Fund earnings. Download Audio