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

Elementary school students line up to touch a salmon during the annual egg take demonstration at the Anchor River on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, in Anchor Point, Alaska. Students leave the egg take event with fertilized salmon eggs to raise into fry throughout the year through the Salmon in the Classroom project hosted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Sport Fish Division. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News file)
Kids to get close-up look at fish life cycle

Alaska Department of Fish and Game representatives will conduct presentations at coho salmon egg takes

Fat Bear Week bracket (Photo courtesy Katmai National Park & Preserve)
Fat bears face off

Voters decide on the heftiest Katmai brown bear

Voting booths are set up at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Unofficial results: school bond, field house OK’d

Incumbents also came out ahead in preliminary results

Spencer McLean and his daughter, Emma McLean, show their support for Proposition 3, through which a new CES Station 1 would be constructed in Soldotna, on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Blustery weather, average turnout mark municipal election day

Up for consideration this year were city council, board of education and assembly seats, as well as a handful of propositions affecting borough schools, emergency services and legislative representation

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander sits inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Ostrander to leave City of Kenai in January

Ostrander has served as the city manager since 2017

Melanie Hardin, right, greets the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees before her interview for the APFC’s executive director’s job Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Juneau, (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Permanent Fund board picks new executive director

Trustees work overtime selecting from three candidates after interviews Monday

A sign welcoming visitors to the Literary Haunted House at the Kenai Community Library can be seen here on Oct. 30, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
A sign welcoming visitors to the Literary Haunted House at the Kenai Community Library can be seen here on Oct. 30, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Libraries host haunted houses, scary storytimes, seasonal crafts

It’s all about Halloween at Kenai and Soldotna libraries

Kenai Fire Marshal Jeremy Hamilton is seen by one of Kenai Fire Department’s Tower trucks on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022 at Kenai Fire Department in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Get up, get out and get safe’

Kids taught about fire safety as part of prevention effort

Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media. (Screenshot from Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel)
Constitutional convention debate gets heated

Abortion, PFD factor into forum.

Most Read