Legislators announce public meetings to hear from Alaskans about Dunleavy’s vetoes

The line outside the Anchorage Legislative Information Office to testify during the House Finance Committee's hearing on March 25, 2019. (Photo by House Majority Coalition/Twitter)

Update: We’ve also learned that Rep. Dave Talerico will be hosting a community meeting tonight, July 2, at the Pleasant Valley Community Center from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

With the special session a week away, members of the House Majority have announced a handful of opportunities for Alaskans to sound off on the 182 line-item vetoes handed down last Friday by Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy.

While the scale and impact of the scope of the vetoes is daunting to grasp, one thing is for sure: The window to convince legislators to override the vetoes will be very short.

Once legislators gavel into the special session, which is setting aside the whole legal issue of where they’ll be meeting, they’ll have five days to produce the 45 votes necessary to restore funding to public broadcasting, the Senior Benefits Program, the University of Alaska or many dozens of other programs hit by the vetoes.

Legislators have already heard a lot of public testimony opposing the cuts proposed by the governor, whether it be through the regular legislative process or through a series of roadshow town halls sponsored by the bipartisan House Majority. At the time, the cuts were nearly universally unpopular, and legislators generally appeared to suggest that the cuts were unrealistic.

Dunleavy’s vetoes brought the budget, in many cases, back to his Feb. 13 budget proposal, which legislators have complained was never adequately explained and the impact was never adequately understood. That nothing significant had changed between now and then came as a shock to many.

Now that the deep budget cuts have been made a reality, the importance of public input is elevated as legislators attempt to corral the coalition of 45 legislators that are needed to override a line-item veto.

So far, members of the House Majority have announced two meetings: One in Anchorage on Tuesday with options for people to call in from around the state, and another in Fairbanks on Wednesday.

The Anchorage Legislative Information office will be the site of the Tuesday meeting from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. It’s hosted by Reps. Zack Fields, Ivy Spohnholz, Geran Tarr, Harriet Drummond, Matt Claman and Sen. Tom Begich.

People can also call in from the Anchorage area at (907) 563-9085 or outside of Anchorage via (844) 586-9085.

The hearing will also coincide with a veto protest rally hosted by Save our State and a number of other groups.

In Fairbanks, Reps. Grier Hopkins, Bart LeBon, Steve Thompson and Adam Wool will be holding a community meeting on Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Fairbanks Pioneer Park’s civic center to hear community input on the vetoes.

No other meetings have come across our radar. We’ll update with any that we hear about.

Legislators can also be contacted directly through the Alaska Legislature’s website. Here’s links to the House members and the Senate members.

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