Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
                                State Sen. David Wilson offers an amendment to the operating budget Monday at the Capitol. Wilson’s amendment would pay $1,400 as part two of an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend. It was voted down.

Michael Penn | Juneau Empire State Sen. David Wilson offers an amendment to the operating budget Monday at the Capitol. Wilson’s amendment would pay $1,400 as part two of an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend. It was voted down.

House passes capital budget, reverses sweep, approves veto restoration

House and Senate pass legislation on to Dunleavy’s desk

In back-to-back floor sessions Monday, both chambers of the Alaska Legislature passed significant legislation on to Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

In the morning, the House first voted to rescind its previous action on Senate Bill 2002, which failed by one vote on July 22. That bill reversed “the sweep” and passed a capital budget. Once rescinded, the House voted 31-to-seven in favor of the bill.

That bill will now go to the governor. Dunleavy can veto certain items from the budget but he cannot veto the reverse sweep, meaning that there are now funds for the Alaska Performance Scholarship and the Power Cost Equalization programs.

Members of the House Republican minority objected to the votes, saying that the Legislature had already voted several times on this same issue. Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, said that he could find no instance in Alaska’s legislative history where the House had voted to rescind after a second consideration. He said the only course forward was an entirely new bill.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, replied that the bill had been discussed with the Legislative Legal Division and that there was precedent for the this kind of a vote. Edgmon said that there was nearly a billion dollars at stake that needed to be captured for the good of the state.

Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, said that she had spoken with U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who told her that decisions regarding the federal money didn’t need to be made immediately. In response to this, Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai, said that it takes time to implement funding and that delaying any longer would cause further issues for Alaska.

Once the House passed SB 2002, it was the Senate’s turn.

The bill that restored much of the governor’s vetoes, House Bill 2001, passed out of the Senate after that chamber added four amendments to it. Amendments adding money for school debt bond reimbursement, veteran’s services, and rural schools all passed easily, but an amendment allocating a $1,600 Alaska Permanent Fund dividend encountered substantial resistance. Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, said she had voted for SB 2002, “under duress.” It was crucial that the Legislature follow the law, she said, and that this bill allowed the government to spend beyond its means, something she could not condone.

During her address to the floor, Senate Majority Leader Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, raised points of order four times, asking her to remain on the topic of the current bill.

Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, entered an amendment which would have allocated a full PFD but in two parts. It would have issued first a $1,600 PFD and then a supplemental $1,400 dividend in May. That amendment failed.

Wilson said later, as it became clear that the bill was going to pass allocating only a $1,600 dividend, that he felt the Legislature was giving people “false hope.” Without a compromise with the governor, “the conversation isn’t over,” Wilson said. Passing this bill would most likely mean veto by Dunleavy and the Legislature finding themselves back in this same position very soon.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, was in agreement with some of his Republican colleagues who said that a $3,000 PFD was the law and should be allocated. Wielechowski said that the state shouldn’t have to choose between a full PFD and state programs, and that other sources of revenue should be explored. He did vote for the bill, saying that not passing this bill would be far too damaging to the state.

In the end, only Reinbold voted against the bill.

Shortly thereafter, the House met again to concur with the Senate’s amendments. After short debate, the House passed the amended bill.

There was more disagreement however, over whether or not the House should adjourn “sine die,” or without a set date to reconvene. House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, said that all the items on the call of the special session had been completed, and that staying at the capital cost a great deal of tax-payer money.

What work was there left to do, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, asked rhetorically.

The House voted against adjourning sine die and set Wednesday, July 31 as its next meeting date. But in the hallways after the House adjourned many legislators said they were heading home, and that the work was done. It’s not clear how many will be back come Wednesday.

More in News

The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26 on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)
State lifts burn suspension

Residents may now obtain permits for burn barrels as well as for small and large-scale brush fires.

A chart produced by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services shows four risk factors in being infected by COVID-19. (Graph courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
17th Alaskan dies of COVID-19

There were 23 new positive cases of COVID-19 announced Tuesday.

Noah and Eddie Land of Grace Acres Farm in Kasilof set out produce Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at the Farmers Fresh Market at Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Freshness time 2

DoubleUp program helps seniors, families eat healthy

In this July 20, 2013 file photo, several thousand dipnetters converged onto the mouth of the Kenai River to catch a share of the late run of sockeye salmon headed into the river in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file photo/Rashah McChesney)
Dipnetters banned from retaining kings

Dipnetting on the Kenai River opens Friday.

The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna, Alaska, is seen here on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Application period for borough relief funds begins Monday

Borough residents can apply for these grants July 13 through July 24.

A young volunteer chases three piglets named Mary Hamkins, Petunia and Sir Oinks-a-lot through a race during the pig races at the Kenai Peninsula Fair on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Kenai Peninsula Fair canceled this year

Cotton candy, carnival rides and racing pigs will have to wait for… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image CDC)
State reports 30 new cases; hospitalizations reach new high

The cases include 28 residents and two nonresidents.

photos by Megan Pacer / Homer News 
                                A youth rider takes a turn riding a bull calf during the 60th annual Ninilchik Rodeo on Saturday, July 4 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik. The rodeo lasted throughout the July Fourth holiday and celebrated a return to the event’s roots.
Riding high in Ninilchik

Ninilchik Rodeo celebrates 60 years with events new and old.

A closed sign is posted at a retail store shuttered due to the new coronavirus, in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to vote on relief funds for businesses, nonprofits

CARES Relief and Recovery Grant funds would be rolled out in two phases.

Most Read