Governor suggests bills to work on during budget talks

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Wednesday, April 22, 2015 10:16pm
  • News

JUNEAU — Gov. Bill Walker is suggesting that legislators, many of whom are in a holding pattern while budget talks are underway, take up a handful of bills while in extended session.

In a letter to legislative leaders Wednesday, Walker said that while the Legislature is still in session, it has an excellent opportunity to address Medicaid expansion and reform. Bills aimed at addressing Interior energy needs, child support and school programs on sexual assault awareness and prevention — all in the Senate’s possession and of “critical importance to Alaska’s children and families” — could be addressed quickly, he wrote.

The focus since lawmakers went into overtime Monday has been on trying to reach a budget agreement. Closed-door talks toward that end continued Wednesday.

Walker has indicated he would call a special session on Medicaid if lawmakers don’t address that issue before adjourning. House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, said he did not see it as being part of the package of legislation to be passed before adjournment.

Senate Majority Leader John Coghill, R-North Pole, said he doesn’t think the Interior energy bill, which Walker has called a must-have, is in any danger of not passing. The bill has been on the Senate calendar for days and is one of the last big pieces of legislation in play. Coghill suggested that the Senate holding onto it was more strategic than anything while waiting for the House to finalize the capital projects budget, another major piece of legislation.

The Walker administration has said Alaska faces losing about $19 million in federal child support funding and $45 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds if it doesn’t bring its child support law into line with an international treaty under which the United States and other nations enforce child support orders for one another. All states are being asked to do this.

Congress required passage of legislation to receive federal child support funding. About two-thirds of Alaska’s Child Support Services Division is federally funded, and states must have federally compliant child-support programs to receive funds for the needy families program, according to the state.

Coghill said the bill is still in play, but there are a lot of questions about it and not a lot of support for it in the Senate because of the apparent heavy-handedness by the federal government.

Coghill said there’s concern that the bill requiring that school districts have age-appropriate information and training programs related to sexual assault awareness and prevention is an unfunded mandate. There is concern, too, he said, about whether districts have the resources to help children who might come forward as victims as a result of the awareness programs.

More in News

Two snowmachine-triggered snow slabs are seen below the weather station of Seattle Ridge in Turnagain Pass on Dec. 3, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Chris Flowers and the Chugach Avalanche Center)
Multiple avalanches in Turnagain Pass reported Friday

The center reported Saturday that current avalanche danger was considerable above 1,000 feet and moderate below 1,000 feet.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School district changes COVID policy for close contacts

The policy went into effect on Nov. 29

This 2010 photo shows the soon-to-be-replaced Tustumena come into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia. Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on Saturday the state would be replacing the ferry. The replacement vessel has not yet been named, and a statewide contest will be held to name the new vessel, Dunleavy said. (Homer News File)
State moves ahead with replacement of Tustumena

The state has other plans for updating the marine highway.

A sign urging COVID-19 mitigation measures hangs at a free vaccination clinic at the Y intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways, on Tuesday, Nov. 30 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Omicron variant spurs travel restrictions locally, nationally

It’s still unclear if the omicron strain is more dangerous than other COVID variants.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Bycatch becomes hot issue

Dunleavy forms bycatch task force.

Junetta Delong browses the shelves at the Soldotna Library Friends’ book and art sale at the Soldotna Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Something for everyone’

Library holds art and book sale fundraiser

Danny Dommek takes photos with Santa at Soldotna Creek Park on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘And to all a good night’

Soldotna celebrates Christmas in the Park

The badge for the Kenai Police Department (Clarion file)
Walmart briefly evacuated after bomb threat

The investigation is ongoing.

The new Homer Police Station, as seen Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. Members of the Homer Police Department officially moved into the building on Thursday. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
K-9 trooper team finds lost girl

A 12-year-old girl, poorly dressed for the elements, ran away from her downtown Homer home.

Most Read