Sides tussle over logistics before special session starts

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Wednesday, October 21, 2015 10:07pm
  • News

JUNEAU — Three days before the start of the special session, legislators and Gov. Bill Walker tussled Wednesday over logistics while the session’s agenda remained somewhat in flux.

Republican legislative leaders, frustrated that Walker hadn’t released bills detailing his plans yet, said they would begin holding hearings Saturday afternoon at the Capitol in place of an hours-long mass briefing that Walker had planned. They said valuable time was lost by not having bills to review ahead of the session’s scheduled start Saturday and felt it would be more worthwhile to start delving into the bills through the committee process.

Walker responded by saying the administration would hold an abbreviated overview of its plans for any legislator who wants to attend at Centennial Hall on Saturday morning, before the House and Senate convene. He brushed off any suggestion of tension, saying the first day will get off to an earlier-than-expected start.

“I am optimistic that once we actually sit down at same table and start having discussions, it will be a productive process,” he told reporters during a news conference in Anchorage.

The special session agenda includes a proposed buyout of TransCanada Corp., one of the state’s partners in a liquefied natural gas project that Alaska is pursuing. Walker has cast this move as a way for the state to have a greater say in the project, but it would mean higher costs for the state. There’s also a gas reserves tax, without which, Walker said, Alaskans would have no assurances that the producer partners will commit to the next phases of the project.

Walker indicated the reserves tax item could be pulled if an acceptable agreement is reached with the producer partners that ensures their gas would remain available to the project if they withdrew.

Walker wants assurances the state would be able to continue pursuing the project if one of the companies pulls out. He said that matter was being negotiated up to the point he had to issue a call for a special session. With no agreement, the reserves tax item was placed on the agenda.

He said Wednesday that the companies have asked for as much time as possible on the withdrawal provision issue before he submits a reserves tax bill, and he’s honoring that request.

The project being pursued with BP, Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips, TransCanada and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. is the latest iteration of a gas pipeline that has long been seen as a way to help shore up state revenues amid declining oil production.

More in News

Soldotna City Council members convene for a work session to discuss how the city should use federal COVID-19 recovery funds on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna council to review mini grant applications next week

Soldotna City Council members will convene earlier than usual Wednesday to mull… Continue reading

Voters cast ballots in Alaska’s special general and regular primary elections at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Division of Elections data: Primary turnout higher than previous elections

Turnout among central Kenai Peninsula voters in Tuesday’s primary election was higher… Continue reading

Elisif Harro, Mark Harro and Daniel Harro. (Photo courtesy John and Denise Harro)
‘We lost 2 first-class people’

Daniel, Mark Harro die in Idaho plane crash

Two trombone players and a saxophone perform during a KCHS Marching Band practice on Aug. 18, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
KCHS strikes up the band

Only a couple of days into the new school year, Kenai Central… Continue reading

Man wanted in relation to Amber Alert arrested; missing teenager found

A Fairbanks man wanted in connection to an Amber Alert was arrested… Continue reading

School district extends meal program deadline amid confusion

Credit for breakfast and lunch meals will be provided as needed to… Continue reading

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks at the Kenai Classic Roundtable at Kenai Peninsula College on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bycatch stirs debate at fisheries roundtable

Bycatch was the issue du jour at Wednesday’s annual Kenai Classic Roundtable… Continue reading

Kenai Peninsula College Director Cheryl Siemers in her office on Aug. 18, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
KPC to welcome back community with open house

One week before the start of the fall semester, Kenai Peninsula College… Continue reading

National Weather Service radar for the Kenai Peninsula and Southcentral Alaska on Aug. 17, 2022. (Screenshot)
Rain, rain and more rain

Low pressure systems drive wet conditions in Southcentral

Most Read