Due to a baby ready to be born in one legislator’s family, and a sick child in another member’s family, the House didn’t get the budget passed on Sunday.
The House leadership was trying to rush the budget through because Rep. Grier Hopkins had to get to Anchorage for the arrival of his child, and Rep. Zack Fields had to return to Anchorage due to a sick child.
There went the majority.
But Sunday at least ended in with a path forward in the Alaska House of Representatives, as the Operating Budget was sent back to the Rules Committee. Without the two men who left for Anchorage, the majority doesn’t have the votes to pass the budget, and won’t have a majority for a few days. On Monday, the House will instead meet in joint session with the Senate to hear remarks from U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan.
Sunday was high drama, but much of it behind caucus doors.
In a procedural move that was very much “in the weeds,” the House majority voted earlier on Sunday to refused to allow HB 69, the Operating Budget, to go back to “second reading,” to help Speaker Louise Stutes stop the amendment process in its tracks, with over 30 amendments thrown in the trash, something liberal members like Rep. Ivy Spohnholz and other hard-left members of the majority wanted to do, since too many of the Republican amendments were passing.
The fragile Democrat-dominated majority had made a mess of things over the weekend and had forgotten, it appears, that it would need the Republican votes to get into the Constitutional Budget Reserve and to sweep funds left over from last year into this year’s budget. Throwing out their amendments before they were even offered on the floor was the worst strategy possible.
Rep. Sara Rasmussen and Rep. Josiah Patkotak finally approached the dais on Sunday and appeared to break with the Democrats to tell Speaker Stutes they could not vote in favor of a budget that had disenfranchised so many representatives from being able to make their amendment motions.
Rep. Bryce Edgmon, the immediate past speaker, also approached the dais three times and appeared to warn Stutes she needed to adjourn because she was losing control of the House. Finally, the budget was sent back to the Rules Committee. When it comes back to the House Floor, the Republicans will be able to offer their amendments.