Legislation would put 90-day legislative session, PFDs in Alaska Constitution

Rep. Matt Claman, D-Anchorage, talks to reporters at a House majority press availability in March 2018. Claman has proposed making a 90-day session time limit in the Alaska Constitution. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

The Legislature has been ignoring an Alaska law that says the session should end within 90 days. So a lawmaker has proposed putting the limit in the state constitution in House Joint Resolution 2.

That’s one of several legislative proposals released Monday ahead of the legislative session.

Anchorage Democratic Rep. Matt Claman has proposed the 90-day session amendment to the constitution in previous sessions. He noted that the Legislature has repeatedly gone past the limit since voters passed a law in 2006 setting the session length. The constitutioncurrently allows sessions of up to 121 days.

“The Legislature has really grown to ignore that 90-day limit,” Claman said. “And the public is frustrated with how long we’ve been in Juneau and doesn’t understand why we can’t follow that requirement.”

Claman’s joint resolution is one of five proposed amendments to the constitution in the first batch of legislation ahead of the session. Another would put Alaska Permanent Fund dividends in the state constitution.

There were also 38 bills in this batch. They included a bill that would change the definition of first-degree sex assault to cover cases like that of 34-year-old Anchorage resident Justin Schneider. He served just under one year of house arrest after committing a sex act. This prompted a public outcry that contributed to the judge losing his retention election.

Another measure, Senate Bill 7, would require many Medicaid recipients to work to receive health coverage.

The second batch of pre-filed legislation will be released on Friday.