Greetings from Juneau. There are just a few days left in this year’s legislative session, which is scheduled to adjourn Sunday, April 19. A lot will happen this week as lawmakers and the administration work on their priority legislation in hopes of completing the session within 90 days.
The biggest item still unresolved is the operating budget. Earlier this month, the Senate approved a $4 billion budget for next year – $100 million less than the governor and House approved. This week, the budget conference committee, comprised of three senators and three representatives, will iron-out the differences in the budget. I anticipate education funding to be among the major discussion points during the conference committee process. It is likely that we will not have the final budget numbers until adjournment day.
The 24-Hour Rule in Effect
While the budget conference committee continues its work, all other committees are under the 24-Hour Rule. This means bills and resolutions may receive a committee hearing with twenty-four hours’ notice, and legislation can move quickly to a floor vote.
If you have any questions regarding the status of bills and resolutions, please call my office for assistance.
You can also follow bills online through the legislature’s Bill Action Status Inquiry System at http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Home/BillsandLaws
Another good source for tracking legislation during these last days of session is the Legislative Information Office (LIO) in your community.
The Cordova LIO can be reached at (907) 424-5461
The Homer LIO can be reached at (907) 235-7878.
The Kenai LIO can be reached at (907) 283-2030.
The Kodiak LIO can be reached at (907) 486-8116.
Personal Legislation Update
SCR 1 unanimously passed the Senate on Monday, April 13th. This legislation creates a task force to explore how to provide civics education to students in order to give them a better understanding of what citizenship means. The resolution has been sent to the House for further consideration.
SB 75 passed the Senate State Affairs Committee on Tuesday, March 24th and is awaiting a hearing by the Senate Finance Committee. The bill would give Alaska’s federally recognized tribal governments the ability to take part in the Permanent Fund Dividend’s popular Pick.Click.Give. program should they choose.
SB 61 had its first hearing in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee on Thursday, April 9th. The bill establishes a matching grant program in the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development for eligible museum construction, expansion, and major renovation projects, subject to available funds. The bill is awaiting a further Labor and Commerce Committee hearing.
PFD Survey Results
Thanks to everyone who took the time to take our recent survey on the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). Nearly everyone who responded applied for this year’s PFD. 93% of the respondents filed their applications electronically. 83% of the respondents say they use their dividend to pay bills, while 11% use the money for vacations and recreation, and a little over 5% for shopping and entertainment. 30% of respondents plan to donate a portion of their PFD to nonprofits taking part in the Pick.Click.Give. program. A little under 7% of the respondents are taking part in the University of Alaska College Savings Plan with their dividends,
I appreciate the comments and feedback we’ve received through the surveys this session. Although they are by no means scientific, the surveys have been a great way to find out what you think about some of the topics coming before us in the Capitol.
I will be leaving Juneau for home toward the end of the month and look forward to visiting our communities during the legislative interim. My offices will be open throughout the interim. Please don’t hesitate to call if we can be of help to you with matters involving state government.
You can reach my Homer office at 235-0690.
My Kodiak office number is 486-4925.
My capitol office number is 1-800-821-4925.
You can E-mail me at: email@example.com
Thanks for reading this edition of the Capitol Report. Please keep in touch.