Legislators running out the clock - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, November 28, 2021
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Legislators running out the clock

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The third special session during the 2021 calendar year is turning out to be another bust, even as it winds its way to the end on Wednesday night. A fourth special session is surely on the way, but the governor has only hinted at it, and has not yet set a date for it.

The main purpose of the fourth special session is determining a Permanent Fund dividend, which remains entrenched as the third rail of Alaska politics.

As Alaska turns the corner to fall, there is still no dividend, which is a statutory obligation of the government. Every year of the Dunleavy Administration, the Legislature has blocked the release of the full statutory amount for Alaskans.

The House passed HB 3003, a spending bill for dividends of $1,100 per person, less than a third of the statutory amount. The bill has languished in Senate Finance for weeks but appears to be heading for a floor debate and vote on Sunday afternoon.

The comprehensive fiscal plan working group, which the Legislature formed to come up with a fiscal solution, met in July and August, but has not seen its work adopted by the Legislature.

There has also been a little activity recently on the governor’s request for a resolution that would allow voters to put the 50-50 Permanent Fund dividend calculation into the Alaska Constitution. Senate Bill 53 is queued up for a floor debate and vote.

There’s no spending limit to be placed before voters for consideration as a constitutional amendment, and even critical legislation to get more medical professionals in the state is bogged down; Rep. Zack Fields of Anchorage has said the bill that would allow the transfer of nursing licenses from other states will pass over his dead body.

The one bill that has moved at a pace is the governor’s Telehealth bill, which passed the Senate on Friday. It will take a bit of the pressure off of medical facilities round the state, allowing them to bring more staff in — if they can find staff to hire at all. Stripped from the bill by Democrats were protections for Alaskans from vaccine mandates that were added to the bill in the Senate.

Democrats and some Republicans are advancing various taxes, such as Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich’s corporate income taxes and fuel taxes, while over in the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Ivy Spohnholz is trying to advance a 75-25 Permanent Fund dividend proposal — the government gets 75 percent, and the people get 25 percent, combined with revenue measures like taxes.

Led by Democrats and turncoat Republicans, the House has only met for a regular floor session five times since the third special session convened Aug. 16.

The Senate has met in a regular floor session just seven times. The rest of their obligatory meetings have been “technical sessions” — gavel in and gavel out, with only a couple of people present.

So far, the Legislature will have been in session for 186 days this year, and another special session will bring the time to 216 days, or 61 percent of the year’s calendar.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Over my dead body? OK

    • RIP

    • Also, do Dems care about the US Constitution? The US Constitution is a limitation for government. Big government people don’t “like” limits of any kind; do they.

  • Alaskans need to reach out to their representatives by phone and email every day until they do the job they were elected to do. If these representatives do not want to do the job they were elected to do they should immediately resign their office so someone can do the peoples business.

    • How can we stop them? Many of us do but the ones that vote against it they don’t care what their people want

      • The US Constitution send grievances to them and ask a remedy. I wish we had a sheriff authority to remove them permanently so they can never take up space thusly inany other emolument in the state or nation nor receive a pension as has been the practice legislating, refusing to obey corporate bylaws they said they would obey, not getting a budget that is sustainable and refusing to take instruction from their constituents for whom they literally work.

  • The real question is, how do these do nothing legislators keep getting re-elected?!?! The people’s business isn’t getting done, the state of Alaska is in distress, and they sit down there collecting thousands in per dium! I suppose the old saying is true, you get the government you deserve. Alaskans need to wake up, cut the dead wood, and elect legislators who will follow the constitution, statuate and care for the State. Special interests are going to be the ruination of our State!

    • Because they are politicians, just look at all the ads come election time, “I will work for you to get the dividend you deserve”. they get elected on this yet nothing is accomplished for the pay they are getting in per diem alone.

  • This is maddening and unacceptable.
    I know I could wishful think things like moving the legislature out of Juneau, electing representatives who really care, etc, but the fact remains that we need to get a move on folks.

    I’m not sure what it takes to get things accomplished in Juneau that will benefit Alaskans sooner rather than later, but let’s put aside whatever is holding things back.
    This Alaskan wishes to see our freedoms maintained (voting against any kind of vaccine mandate or passport ideas) and figuring out the PFD situation.

  • Gee, who didn’t see this coming.

    The legislature owns Dunleavy and knows it. If he had a spine he’d call another session in the valley and let those trolls know if the balk the troopers will be there

  • Hell no!!! This should be paid from the PFD EARNINGS and not through the State budget

    They are stealing what is rightfully ours. Government does. Or get 75%. Use the original formula.

    We need to sue them for all it’s worth. This started with WLker the legislators or corrupt. Not all but the majority of them.

  • Is it possible to sue individual legislators for breach of contract?

    They clearly are not even attempting to do their jobs, regardless of how they vote.

    • If we hire them to do one thing and they do another, commit fraud, and are doing what they have no authority to do like madatious “health” departments in some jurisdictions then they are ultra vires working outside of their scope and authority. Then the Secret Service gets involved to recollect emolument funds. We literally cannot pay them to trespass our rights or their authority. The Secret Service get involved not just to protect Presidents but to protect our guaranteed representative republic and those public trust funds. That’s their emolument. Using the protest grievance request remedy, investigation and take corrective action process to the best of our ability. In the fifty years that Alaska has been a state has that ever happened? Why not? ARE Alaskans stupid and can’t read the US Constitution? Following the written protest after sending them a formal Notice to Cure is how exactly we can possibly use process that is due to keep our US Constitution and the Republic out the hands of communist dictators. “We have a republic if we can keep it”. We do it by using the US Constitution. The US Constitution does not say: “Take your grievances to the Judiciary” where they find all kinds of reasons to say no one with status and standing is in their jurisdiction and you hear…”We lost”. The grievances go right back to the Legislatators and Mason’s Manual for lawful group action.

  • Time for Alaskans to take back our state. We’re headed for the same type of DC, New York, California economic downfall if we don’t get these Democratic spending sprees under control!!!

    • agree

  • The time is getting closer for a few good men to have to do some very terrible things.

  • “The government you elect is the government you deserve” – Thomas Jefferson.
    How can our government be so screwed up? Am I the only sane man left in this State?
    This fiasco is the result of the electorate believing the deceivers. The pandering and worship of the Dividend reminds me of the Israelites worshiping of the golden calf.
    I’m throwing down the tablets, burning the calf in the fire, grinding it into powder, sprinkling it in the water, and forcing you to drink!
    The Dividend is a false idol and we are paying the price with an incredibly confused government.
    I would prefer just ending the program cold turkey right now and maybe it will be zero this year due to legislative intransigence. Here is our real priorities:
    1. Balance the budget without borrowing from reserves including the PFER above 5%.
    2. Stop pretending the PFER is not functionally in the General Fund. Thus, we should not be raiding the CBR when the PFER is “available for appropriation” (see Article 9, Section 17 Budget Reserve Fund).
    3. Begin a process of re-paying the CBR as required by 9.17.
    4. Pay off the oil tax credits lump sum (subject to a discount) from the PFER.
    5. Every year, any realized earnings in the PFER above the 5%POMV should either be put in the PF corpus or the CBR.
    6. The Dividend should only be paid from the balanced budget within the 5%POMV.
    7. As a matter of sane fiscal policy, forget about income or sales taxes while paying a Dividend. It’s unconstitutional anyway (see Article 9, Section 6).

    • Our goal in this initiative is to pay a traditional dividend based on history and to stop the aborting of our economic development and to further the development of our resources while limiting the destruction of our resources by our own legislature who would rather kill our most important resources including our dividend.

      • I do not consent. The statutory formula is the agreed upon corporate bylaw and our servants acting on our behalf are not authorized to renegotiate the deal for taken mineral property rights. Pay by statute or reattach mineral rights forthwith.

  • I blame this on the Rino’s, hey lied to get elected except for maybe liberal Kodiak, then stabbed the Alaskans in the back. One thing we learned is never, never trust or elect anyone with family connections with the unions. This is a disgrace to the people of Alaska.

  • We the people, have submitted A petition for a full PFD to be voted on by the people based on statutory law and protections of our resource development (Hammond 50-50 Plan) through our shared investments in our corporation paid directly to people with half being sent to our government through the constitutionally protected CBR or constitutional budget reserve, 50% of the payout needs to go to the people and then 50% as the Governments portion which must/shall be sent to the budget reserve, in order to protect us from unconstitutional spending by our Republic elected Representatives who may then legislate their portion of peoples fund from the CBR without overspending it year to year and providing the necessary means to protect it from any purpose spending that has waisted our reserves from time to time. We have 3 sponsors and hundreds of signatures. It was a process now we are waiting on the Division of Elections to certify ao that signatures may begin.

  • > Stripped from the bill by Democrats were protections for Alaskans from vaccine mandates that were added to the bill in the Senate.

    Veto it.

  • Hey Legislature (beard slinging in a rotary fashion like a helicopter spooling up…) you’re greedy and entitled (screamed with all the passion of a hissy fit). Get the people’s work done! Pay the full statutory dividend… NOW. Stop stealing.

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