Members of the Alaska House of Representatives has 87 amendments submitted to the state’s operating budget bill and intends to spend the rest of the week in floor session working through them. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives has 87 amendments submitted to the state’s operating budget bill and intends to spend the rest of the week in floor session working through them. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)

House begins debate on 87 amendments to budget bill

Several of the amendments considered offered various amounts for Alaska Permanent Fund dividends

The Alaska House of Representatives on Tuesday began working through 87 amendments to the state’s operating budget, a process that’s expected to continue over multiple days.

When the House adjourned late Tuesday afternoon, members had worked through 23 amendments and passed none. Several of the amendments considered offered various amounts for Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, while others sought to increase funding to certain areas of the state.

The first amendment considered Tuesday was sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCabe, R-Big Lake, and co-sponsored by other members of the Republican minority that would’ve used $2.7 billion to pay dividends of roughly $4,200 in line with the state’s statutory formula. That amendment failed 18-21 mostly along party lines, though House Finance Committee co-chair Neal Foster, D-Nome, voted in favor of the amendment.

Lawmakers also rejected a proposal from Rep. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, to increase funding for Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s statehood defense initiative, an effort to legally push back against federal regulation, particularly in regards to resource development.

According to House Majority Coalition spokesperson Joe Plesha, floor sessions are expected to take up most of the day Wednesday and possibly stretch later into the week as members worked through amendments. House members are also debating the state’s mental health budget, but only one amendment was submitted to that bill, Plesha said.

Lawmakers in both bodies are working to finalize the state’s budget process before the end of the regular session in May. Last year, lawmakers needed several special sessions before they were able to finish the budget process.

Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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