Alaska House Speaker Louise Stutes, a Kodiak Republican, looks out on the floor of the Alaska House on Monday, May 10, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The Alaska House on Monday resumed debate on a version of the state operating budget. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, Pool)

Alaska House Speaker Louise Stutes, a Kodiak Republican, looks out on the floor of the Alaska House on Monday, May 10, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The Alaska House on Monday resumed debate on a version of the state operating budget. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, Pool)

Dunleavy calls 2 special sessions

Dunleavy cited the inability of the Alaska House of Representatives to formally organize until more than one month into the regular session.

State lawmakers will be called back for two special sessions this year to address the state budget and constitutional amendments, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office announced Thursday.

The first session will begin at 10 a.m. on May 20 and will direct work on the FY22 operating and mental health budgets, the FY22 Alaska Permanent Fund dividend and Dunleavy’s constitutional amendment related to the PFD. The second will begin at 10 a.m. on August 2 and would direct work on constitutional amendments establishing an appropriation limit and prohibiting new state taxes without voter approval, the distribution of federal American Rescue Plan funds and potential measures to increase state revenues.

In calling the first special session, Dunleavy cited the inability of the Alaska House of Representatives to formally organize until more than one month into the regular session, the “well-known fact that difficult decisions are not made in the second session” and the need to institutionalize the Power Cost Equalization endowment.

“The first special session gives the Legislature ample time to complete their appropriating duties and begin to tackle the elephant in the room — the Permanent Fund Dividend,” Dunleavy’s office said.

The Legislature will work to distribute the more than $1 billion in American Rescue Act funds Alaska will receive from the federal government during the second special session and consider other legislation that targets Alaska’s finances generally. They include a constitutional amendment that would create an appropriation limit and another that would prohibit the creation of a state tax without voter approval.

“The structural deficit Alaska faces also must be acknowledged through revenue measures,” said a release from Dunleavy’s office.

Dunleavy said in a release from his office that conversations with lawmakers indicated that they would need more time to complete the FY22 budget. The 32nd Legislature’s first regular session, which began on Jan. 19, is scheduled to end on May 19.

More information about Dunleavy’s proclamations can be found on the governor’s website at gov.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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