It’s a wrap: Legislature adjourns

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House Speaker Cathy Tilton speaks to the media at 1:20 a.m. on Thursday, after the House concluded its business for the 33rd legislative session. Photo credit: Screen shot from Gavel Alaska.

Alaska’s House Minority leader raced to the hallway microphones after the House adjourned on Thursday morning to get the first word in and develop the narrative for the media.

House Minority Leader Cavin Schrage was first to the microphone after the session ended on Thursday morning.

Rep. Calvin Schrage, who leads the Democrats in the House, said that he regretted there was not a permanent increase to the school funding formula, but he authoritatively pronounced a good session overall. He is serving his second year as a legislator and has been the combative point person for the Democrats, in charge of blocking all progress of the Republican-led majority.

House Speaker Cathy Tilton then emerged from the House Chamber and the media scrum shifted to her. She acknowledged that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and that the crime bill, House Bill 66, was one big success of the session. 

H.B. 66, casually known as the “Fentanyl Bill” was the governor’s crime bill introduced Feb. 8, and one of the final bills to pass this year. It addresses the use of addictive narcotic to victimize people and it barely squeezed by both House and Senate, after some in the Senate filibustered it with amendments. Sen. Matt Claman was particularly hostile to the bill, but he was unsuccessful in stopping it.

“That is a great success because that is for people who are the victims of crimes,” Tilton said. And so it’s really important that we focus on them. Most of the time when we do crime bills it’s about the criminals but this is really about the victims and helping them and I think that’s really important.

The vote was not unanimous. Voting against the final bill were Democrat Rep. Jennie Armstrong, Ashley Carrick, Andrew Gray, Sara Hannan, and Genevieve Mina, along with Republican David Eastman.

House concurrence vote on the final passage of the Fentanyl Bill, House Bill 66, as amended.

Tilton said the energy bills were also a huge win. House Bill 50, the “Carbon Credits Bill,” combines a regulatory framework for Alaska becoming a storage unit for the world’s carbon, and has financing framework for Cook Inlet natural gas development.

She noted that House Bill 400 was a big win for education, giving homeschool and correspondence students and their families some security in knowing what their reimbursements will look like.

The bill instructs the Alaska Board of Education to develop some temporary regulations for correspondence school reimbursements, known as allotments, while the court case involving state reimbursement of home and correspondence education moves to the Alaska Supreme Court. The matter affects over 22,000 students in Alaska and over 44,000 parents or guardians.

Senate Bill 22, proclaiming June 19th as “Juneteenth,” a state holiday, passed the House at the last minute. If signed by the governor, it will give state workers another day off, bringing the total formal state holidays to 12. The cost to the state is in the millions due to lost work and holiday pay for essential workers.

In addition to personal legislation and the governor’s bills, the House and Senate passed operating and capital budgets that will now go to the governor for his review, vetoes, and signature.

The Senate adjourned just before midnight on Wednesday, the 121st day of the session.

Both House and Senate members now pack their Juneau apartments up and return to their districts until either a special session is called by themselves or the governor, or until January of 2025, when the 34th Legislature convenes its first of two sessions.

19 COMMENTS

  1. Regarding H.B. 66, casually known as the “Fentanyl Bill”

    “The vote was not unanimous. Voting against the final bill were Democrat Rep. Jennie Armstrong, Ashley Carrick, Andrew Gray, Sara Hannan, and Genevieve Mina, along with Republican David Eastman.”

    Why is it that Representative Eastman finds himself in the company of extreme leftists so often when he’s supposedly a conservative Republican?

    • Eastman is a party of himself. A unique mix of ego, messianism, and hubris.

      Possibly along with Dunleavy the classic example of why the AK GOP is useless.

      • The AK gop is useless because most of them agree with dems. They want a large centralized state with much control. That is why so many Republican politicians caucus with Democrats. The Republican base wants a much smaller and less intrusive government and they are tired with being lied to by Republicans. Hence they are apathetic. Truth tellers like Eastman are mocked and derided by fools like MA (who seems to have a personal grudge) which does not help anyone but democrats.

    • Might have something to do with cramming bills through the legislature so fast for the last 24 hours that elected legislators, who are to carry the voice of the people, don’t even understand what is in the bills they are voting to pass into law.

      • Representative Eastman,

        While that might serve as an explanation for your actions in the last 24 hours of the legislative session this year, it certainly doesn’t explain it for all the other times you find yourself siding with the furthest left folks in the legislature.

        I agree that legislators shouldn’t be voting on bills they don’t understand, but voting no because you don’t understand something is just as misguided as voting yes for the same reason. I’m curious why you choose to vote either yes or no if you are having trouble understanding the bills you are voting on, why not abstain or vote present or ask to be excused if you cannot understand the bills you are voting on?

        • On your quick response stating Rp Eastman has trouble understanding the bill, is obnoxious.. You’re dead wrong about his reasoning about the bills. The FACT is HE DOES understand and KNOWs EXACTLY what the bill is about.. Many of the bills do NOT have the pros and cons of understanding what the bill is really ABOUT. Many people don’t see it or DON’T want to understand, they just want to hurry through without studying ALL the pros & cons what the bill is about. He often does answer here in MRAK why he has voted the way he has.

  2. Senator Claman was not against the fentanyl bill. Most of the amendments that turned the fentanyl bill into an omnibus crime bill were added into the fentanyl bill on the Senate side under Senator Claman’s supervision.

    • For your information Fentanyl outside of Authorized PROPER medical uses, IS A CRIME!!!! That’s why people are dying and the homeless are dying. I’m glad they’re trying to correct the problem.

  3. Why the hell is the country obsessed with making a Texas this important. Texas doesn’t celebrate Alaska Day.

  4. I can’t wait for heating oil to be $10+ a gallon along with huge increases in natural gas, propane and electric bills. Yeah, lets get on that “sequestering carbon” insanity.

    • Me too. I want to see prices doubled .
      Let’s get new taxes and give more to the state.
      People had better wake up because time for serious action is running out.

  5. I just hope the Cowardly Lion doesn’t start calling special sessions. We were screwed enough as it is.

  6. HB 50 passed? I did not hear any public support for this bill. This is sickening. The House members for MSB (and Senate) heard the public opinion about this bill and I know that constituents wrote and emailed their legislators in opposition of this bill. I wonder what kind of payoff these guys are getting for passing that bill? This is so embarrassing. The world is going to look at Alaska as the big idiot in the world space for going along with this fake narrative for the sake of laundering money. We’ll be sitting right up there with Germany in freezing its people out and pretending that we are doing the right thing “to save the environment.” So shameful.

  7. Adjournment night was a very dangerous night for Alaska. The election legislation that the senate hijacked contained tools for easy election fraud manipulation. Things like same-day, voter registration without proof of residency, or mandatory ID. It’s why they played hard ball with leveraging it. Alaska would’ve flipped blue, permanently, if it passed. It was a 20-20 vote.

    Tilton had a really tough job to do, and I’m sure it was not fun herding cats. But in the end she pulled it off.

    The house served as a circuit breaker, to the radicalized leftist Senate. The biggest disappointment was Jessie Summer, who voted with the D’s to keep the election bill alive.

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