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

Renewable IPP CEO Jenn Miller presents information about solar power during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Company looks to build solar farm on peninsula

It would be roughly 20 times the size of the largest solar farm currently in the state.

(Image courtesy CDC)
Officials: COVID is at a plateau in Alaska

The approved COVID vaccines, Zink said, are the best tool to get cases to drop off.

Clem Tillion of Halibut Cove poses for a photo on Jan. 9, 2020, in Homer, Alaska. The veteran Alaska legislator was passing through Homer while waiting to take the M/V Tustumena ferry to Kodiak. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Clem Tillion, PFD founder and former legislator, dies at 96

Tillion died Wedneday, Oct. 13, at Halibut Cove home.

“Soctober” will take place from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at the Cook Inlet Counseling parking lot at 10200 Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, and consists of rock painting, the winter gear giveaway and a free spaghetti lunch. (Image via Cook Inlet Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse)
Recovery group to host outreach event

The event will include rock painting, the winter gear giveaway and a free spaghetti lunch.

Finn Petersen, left, is announced the winner of a $49,000 Alaska 529 scholarship on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, as part of the “Give AK a Shot” COVID-19 vaccine program. (Photo via the Alaska Chamber of Commerce)
Anchorage residents win latest vaccine lottery

“Give AK a Shot” awards $49,000 in cash scholarships to one newly vaccinated adult and one child.

Jason Floyd testifies in opposition to COVID-19 mandates during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Protesters pack council meeting, declare ‘medical liberty’

Attendance at Wednesday’s meeting was reduced to standing-room only.

Baked goods are on display during a Soldotna Chamber of Commerce pie auction in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy Soldotna Chamber of Commerce)
‘Local gourmets’ to share baking skills at Soldotna Pie Auction

The Great British Baking Show-esque event showcases local culinary talent.

A spruce bark beetle is seen on the underside of a piece of bark taken from logs stacked near Central Peninsula Landfill on Thursday, July 1, 2021 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Chugach campgrounds to be closed for beetle kill mitigation

Only one campground will be closed at a time, and updates on closures will be shared to the Chugach National Forest’s website.

Most Read