AKLEG Recap, Week 11: Operating budget almost finally ready for vote in House

Something might be going on in there.The Alaska State Capitol building as photographed in 2010. (Photo by Kimberly Vardeman/Creative Commons)

A lot of legislators would probably wish they had week 11 back after progress snarled to a halt after the House approved a $2,700 dividend on Monday only to backtrack on Friday. It was an embarrassing, frustrating week that strained relationships and patience throughout the capitol.

Just 14 days left.

House ready to tackle operating budget

After finally resolving the PFD dispute in the operating budget, the House is finally ready for the home stretch on the operating budget. At day 77 of the legislative session, this will be the latest by far that the House has passed a budget in the last 10 years that we checked (though we wouldn’t be surprised if this is the latest ever).

Though an entire week has been spent working out House Majority Coalition’s schisms over the dividend, the week before that had been spent working through nearly 100 mostly minority caucus amendments. The same goes for the 2017 session when amendments numbered in the 100s were offered.

Legislative day the operating budget first passed the House (And the day it passed Legislature)

2017: 63 (June 22)

2016: 52 (May 31)

2015: 52 (April 27)

2014: 52 (April 20)

2013: 59 (April 14)

2012: 59 (April 15)

2011: 52 (May 6)

2010: 52 (April 18)

2009: 53 (April 15)

2008: 50 (April 12)

Senate operating budget testimony

The Senate Finance Committee ambitiously scheduled public testimony on the operating budget (pending referral) for its Tuesday morning meeting. We’re going to guess that meeting won’t be happening, but we’ll give better odds for the public testimony scheduled for Friday. The Senate has plenty of budget closeouts planned for this week.

Contraception

The operating budget isn’t the only big item on the floor calendar. Rep. Matt Claman’s House Bill 25, which requires insurance providers to cover a year of prescription contraceptives as well as long-term contraceptives, is also up for a vote. This bill was the subject of extra public hearings earlier in the session that were intended to rally support to move the bill out of the House Rules Committee, where it’s sat for most of session.

Corrections legislation

Gov. Bill Walker’s bills aimed at the state’s criminal justice and correction system are up for hearings this week. The Senate Judiciary Committee will be hearing Senate Bill 150, which fixes up pretrial assessment tool after some glaring errors were revealed early in its implementation, and Senate Bill 214, which would set up a route for correctional centers to host industry work programs.

Pipeline party

Alaska is host to a 38-member (or is it 39-member? The reporting is conflicted on this) delegation of officials representing three major Chinese entities that are involved in the Alaska liquefied natural gas pipeline project. The delegation toured the state to get a first-hand, close-up look of the proposed project in what the state hopes will lead to signed commitments by the end of the year. The visit was funded by China.

Anchorage and state team up

On Friday, the state of Alaska and Anchorage announced a partnership allowing Anchorage prosecutors to handle more felony cases through the state District Attorney’s office. Under the agreement, Anchorage will fund to additional investigators who will help primarily with domestic violence cases. The decision allows Anchorage to take on more felony cases where it’s usually been limited to misdemeanors.

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