The Alaska Legislature is reconvening for a special session Monday, but many lawmakers are at odds over where that special session will take place — Kenai Peninsula lawmakers included.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy has called for the session to take place in Wasilla, while legislative leadership is saying they are meeting in Juneau.
Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai/Soldotna, told the Clarion he would be heading to Juneau Monday.
In an email, Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, said he would meeting with lawmakers and the governor in Wasilla.
“State law allows our governor to call sessions around Alaska,” Carpenter said. “We need to follow the law. I’ll be in Wasilla where every lawmaker should be for the second special session.”
Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Kenai/Soldotna, said he supports the governor to call the special session where he chooses. However, Micciche is excused Monday, and part of July, due to his work as a commercial fisherman, but says he will be present when it comes time to make key votes. Micciche said he’s encouraging lawmakers to sit down with the governor, to come up with a compromise in finding a final solution.
Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, did not immediately respond for comment. A June 24 post on her official Facebook page indicates she will be in Wasilla.
“I will obey the law, and stand with The People!” the post reads. “Join me in Wasilla July 8 for the Special Session.”
Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, also did not immediately respond for comment, but told the Homer News July 2, he would would be attending the special session in Juneau.
Dunleavy called the Alaska Legislature into special session, with hopes of providing a full Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, June 13, a press release from the governor’s office said.
The governor called lawmakers to Wasilla, the release said, where he plans to host the session in Wasilla Middle School.
“Today I am calling a second special session in Wasilla so lawmakers can complete their work and follow the law,” Dunleavy said in the release. “At this point, a change in venue is necessary to refocus the conversation and remind lawmakers about the people and their PFD. Once the issue of the PFD is solved, these other budgetary issues will fall into place quickly.”
However, June 24, House and Senate leadership announced they would return to Juneau for a special session, and hold a majority of meetings in Anchorage.
The announcement said they believe the Legislature should call itself into session, where the intent is to hold floor sessions in Juneau and hold most committee meetings at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office.
“This approach would save hundreds of thousands of dollars and provide in-person access to Alaskans on the road system, while also utilizing facilities designed for legislative proceedings and providing Alaskans who are unable to attend in person the ability to participate and follow along as lawmakers consider these crucial issues,” the announcement from the House Majority said.
In a press release from House Republicans, House Minority leader Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, criticized the decision of the House Majority.
“The fact that legislative leadership plans to run away from the Mat-Su Valley back to their hiding places in Juneau is extremely illuminating,” Pruitt said. “The legislative leadership has already tried to have these conversations on the budget, PFD, and education in the dark back rooms of far-away Alaska; they haven’t found answers. Now, we should be having these conversations in full view of the public.”