Legislative leaders aim for session end in days, not weeks

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, front right, makes his way down from Senate Finance Co-Chair Lyman Hoffman’s office to the Speaker’s Chambers in the Alaska Capitol on Wednesday. Edgmon said Friday his goal is for the session to end soon. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

The Alaska legislative session could be coming to an end. House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, a Dillingham Democrat, said his goal is for lawmakers to leave Juneau soon.

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“I’m doing everything I can to make that a matter of days and not weeks,” Edgmon said.

A major piece of the end-of-session talks is a bill to draw from Alaska Permanent Fund earnings to pay for state government. The conference committee on Senate Bill 26 is scheduled to meet Saturday.

Edgmon is optimistic about another measure, Senate Bill 63, which would ban smoking from workplaces.

“I personally support it and I want to see it pass, and it’s my expectation that that will be the case,” Edgmon said.

Both Edgmon and Eagle River Republican Sen. Anna MacKinnon said the session’s end has been delayed by the complexity of the bills lawmakers are working on.

MacKinnon said rewrites of the state’s alcohol regulations, Senate Bill 76, as well as workers compensation laws, House Bill 79, are still possible.

“Right now I’m optimistic,” MacKinnon said. “But it’s like a roller coaster, though. Today, you’re all going in the same direction and then you find, you know, an amendment somewhere that might throw a brick in the road. But we’re trying to make sure those bricks are talked about, instead of fought about.”

One area of difference that could be an issue is Medicaid spending.

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Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at akitchenman@alaskapublic.org.

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