JUNEAU — Alaska lawmakers planned to tour potential alternate meeting sites Monday as the extended legislative session wore on and a deadline for being out of the state Capitol drew nearer.
The Capitol is undergoing renovation work and effectively will need to be cleared out by May 2 under the current construction schedule.
Lawmakers have been meeting in extended session after the House was unable to reach agreement on changes to the state’s oil and gas tax credit structure.
The voter-approved 90-day session ended April 17 but the state Constitution allows for regular sessions of up to 121 days with an option to extend for another 10.
Senate Majority Leader John Coghill, R-North Pole, had said noise was expected to ratchet up over the weekend, making the building unwelcoming.
On Monday, Senate President Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, told reporters he had a headache from the jackhammers. He said legislators have been told they can stay in the Capitol until Sunday assuming they can work around the noise. He said they’re looking at other spaces in Juneau where they could continue working if needed.
He acknowledged it would be tough for the Legislature to complete its remaining work by Sunday, saying progress wasn’t being made as quickly as had been hoped in the House.
Besides credits, outstanding items include state spending plans, tax proposals, legislation calling for structured annual draws from Alaska Permanent Fund earnings to help pay for state government and changes to the state’s criminal justice system. The criminal justice bill is in the House. Resolution on the credits issue is seen as key to making progress on the budget and revenue bills.
Hearings that had been scheduled for Monday were canceled. The Senate held a technical floor session, meaning attendance was not mandatory.
Meyer said nothing had been ruled out in terms of where legislators will complete their work. But they’re still in regular session and regular sessions are held in Juneau, he said, adding that as long as progress is being made, his preference is “to stay here and just get it done.”