The Legislature is as close as it’s ever been this year to finally being whole, legislators are finally done introducing personal legislation and the U.S. women’s hockey team has finally brought home the gold after a stressful shootout (also shout out to friend of a friend of a friend of the blog Kendall Coyne).
Just 53 days to go in the regular session.
Shower sorted out
It took a re-appointment by Gov. Bill Walker after yet another round of drama struck the effort to fill Senate District E. It all came down to whether or not Mike “Dozer” Shower was actually a Republican and when he might have updated his registration. Either way it’s all been sorted out, and Senate Republicans have officially confirmed Shower to the Senate this morning.
— AlaskaSenateMajority (@AKSenMajority) February 22, 2018
The Senate is finally back to 20 members, and it only took nearly half of the 90-day legislative session. As we’ve written before, Shower is expected to bring far-right, Rep. David Eastman-esque politics to the Alaska Legislature.
Finance committees introduce fast-track supplementals
The House and Senate finance committees have introduced identical fast-track supplemental budget bills. The budget also reduces state spending on health care by $25 million thanks to the approval of the Alaska Reinsurance Program (which recently netted the state more than $50 million from the feds). There’s a lot of little changes that are outlined in a spreadsheet presented at yesterday’s meeting.
The budget does not include a $93 million supplemental Medicaid payments, which has come under fire from Republicans, but does include funding to make up intentional underfunding of the Alaska Marine Highway System. During a House Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday, it was explained that anything one of the finance co-chairs objected to for any reason was left out and will be saved for the capital budget.
The move helps settle some parts of the supplemental budget, but should raise concern about the parts of the budget that are being left for the capital budget. Last year’s capital budget wasn’t passed until well after the start of the fiscal year when legislators seemed to lack urgency to resolve it after the nasty fights over the operating budget and oil tax credits.
House hits personal legislation deadline
Monday was the deadline for personal legislation to be filed, but with an afternoon deadline for filing bills they didn’t show up on the floor for introduction until Wednesday. The House had 36 house bills to introduce and eight resolutions. The Senate didn’t have any bills to introduce on Wednesday, having already filed 25 bills and four resolution on Monday.
I’m not going to post a full list of the House bills in this post, but we’ll highlight a few interesting ones.
|HB 364||PROHIBIT STATE FUNDED SEX CHANGE OPERATIONS||REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER|
|HB 380||REDUCE MARIJUANA PENALTY:SCHOOLS/CENTERS||REPRESENTATIVE GARA|
|HB 390||RANKED-CHOICE PRIMARY ELECTIONS||REPRESENTATIVE PARISH|
Smoking bill status
The smoke-free workplace bill is still a no-show in the House Rules Committee, where it has sat for weeks. The committee, chaired by Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, had scheduled a meeting to hear the bill, but that meeting was postponed multiple times before being cancelled. We got a new update on the bill at Tuesday’s House Majority Coalition press conference, where LeDoux said she was open to negotiations on the bill.
When pressed on what she was considering, LeDoux said she would like to add a provision that would allow communities to opt out of Senate Bill 63’s ban on smoking in workplaces.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski will be addressing the joint session of the Alaska Legislature later today. Expect to hear plenty about resource development, the economy and health care in some form. Questions from legislators are always interesting, and we wouldn’t be surprised if gun control comes up.
What we’re reading
Senate President Pete Kelly introduced a bill that would require the University of Alaska to study whether long-lasting contraceptives can help combat the state’s problems with a mother’s use of alcohol or opioids during pregnancy. Kelly pushed for the University of Alaska to look into pregnancy tests in bathrooms to combat fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Read: Can long-acting contraceptives fix some of Alaska’s most vexing social problems? A state lawmaker wants to find out. via Anchorage Daily News.