Hello again from Juneau. The Fiscal Year 2019 operating budget (HB 287) continues to be the dominant topic in the Capitol. The House passed its version of the budget on April 2, a few weeks later than usual. It calls for $11.5 billion in total spending. $5.5 billion of that total would come from the state’s unrestricted general funds. $700 million in the House budget would come from another source, such as the Constitutional Budget Reserve, which would require approval from three-quarters of the Senate and House.
Both legislative bodies are proposing a $1,600 Permanent Fund Dividend this year, but the overall budget numbers will change in the Senate. A six-member conference committee consisting of three senators and three representatives will reconcile differences in the budget before a final vote is taken by each body.
Before being signed into law, the budget faces further scrutiny from the Governor, who has the authority to veto or lower individual budget items.
Thank you to those constituents who took the time to share their thoughts on the budget during public testimony periods in both bodies. Your input is an important part of the process.
With the budget and several other matters yet to be decided, the Legislature is unlikely to meet the statutory 90-day session limit of April 15. The Alaska Constitution allows for 121-day session, but I hope we will be able to finish before then.
The 24-Hour Rule
Once the budget conference committee is appointed, the work of legislative committees falls under the 24-Hour Rule. This means bills and resolutions may receive a committee hearing with 24 hours notice, and legislation can move quickly to a floor vote.
You can get more information on the status of legislation through the Legislative Information Office near you.
The Kodiak LIO can be reached at (907) 486-8116.
SB 15 on the Move
SB 15 passed the House Labor and Commerce Committee on March 30. The bill proposes banning the possession, sale and exchange of electronic smoking devices for individuals under 19 years of age. The prohibition includes component liquid or vapor products, regardless of their tobacco or nicotine content.
SB 15 is awaiting further consideration by the House Finance Committee.
Keeping track of the Legislature
You can follow the Senate during the remainder of the session online at www.alaskasenate.org. The site provides a wealth of information on the Senate Majority and our membership.
Alaska’s public television system produces Gavel Alaska, which broadcasts live and recorded coverage of floor sessions and committee meetings. The programming is also on the Internet at: http://www.360north.org.
AlaskaLegislature.tv will offers live coverage of committee meetings and bill hearings. The service is provided by the Legislature.
You can also access information on any bills and resolutions introduced during the 30th Alaska Legislature through the Bill Action and Status Inquiry System (BASIS) on the internet at www.akleg.gov/basis/Home/BillsandLaws.
Alaska Community Forest Council seeks new members
The Alaska Community Forest Council is seeking to fill five council seats this year in the following categories: Landscape Architect; Construction/Right of Way; Community Forestry or Beautification; Cooperative Extension Service; and Member at Large.
The council is a nonprofit organization and advisory body to the Division of Forestry that works to improve Alaskans’ quality of life by expanding and caring for urban and community forests. The council promotes the management of trees and forests within communities to maximize the many economic, environmental and social benefits that trees provide.
Applications and information about the council and the Division of Forestry’s Community Forestry Program are available on the web at: http://forestry.alaska.gov/community/council or by contacting the Community Forestry Program office at 269-8466 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Completed applications are due no later than May 2. New appointees will be notified in late May and the terms begin on July 1 and end June 30.
Our Kodiak and Homer offices will reopen later this spring and will be staffed throughout the interim. In the meantime, you can reach us in the Capitol at (800) 821-4925.
The fax number is (907) 465-3517. Email me anytime at email@example.com.