Perks: Government-owned legislative housing in Juneau to allow legislators, staffers to have pets

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Beginning in 2024, Alaska legislators and their staff will have use of newly remodeled apartments in a building across from the Alaska Capitol that was donated to the Legislature. 

The new rental policy approved by the Legislative Council on Friday will allow legislators and staffers to rent studios starting at $1,100 a month or one-bedroom apartments for $1,600 a month. The tenants will be allowed to have dogs and cats in their apartments. It was a split vote, with some legislators not comfortable with putting pets in the building. Some legislators on the council do not support the entire concept of legislative housing owned by the Legislature.

Last December, the Legislative Council approved $6.6 million in renovations to the Assembly Apartments, as they were once known. That was a 20% increase over the $5.5 million estimated costs for renovations set in the summer of 2022 for the more than 30 apartments that have been created in the building, which was once apartments, then became lobbyist and other office, and now is returning to apartments. The building was given to the Legislature in 2021 by the Juneau Community Foundation, which also gave the Legislature $2 million for a renovation allowance.

With the renovations completed, legislators and staffers won’t be struggling just to find a place to live in the capital city. The proximity to the Capitol Building means tenants can get by without cars during the 90- to 120-day sessions. And the private sector can rest easy knowing that government housing has been provided to government workers through philanthropy.

Finding adequate housing in Juneau is a challenge at any time of year, but especially during late spring to fall, when the tourism season is in full swing. With housing now provided by the citizens of Alaska, the Legislature can soon more easily meet beyond the 90-day statutory limit for sessions, or the 120-day constitutional limit. Legislators won’t have to free up their apartments for incoming tourism workers.

In fact, by owning its own housing, the Legislature can have all the special sessions it wants, and collect all the per diem that goes with it. Legislators who don’t live in Juneau make $307 per diem. Special sessions typically are held without a full complement of legislative aides.

The rental policy gives priority to legislators based on their seniority, and remaining units would be made available to legislative staff, with those who have served the longest having priority.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Cats and dogs living together? Oh, the humanity. Note that emotional support alligators are completely ignored. Thanks for cheering up my morning. Cheers –

  2. Once the session is over, is the State going to rent the apartments out to cruise ship / tourism employees? By doing so would generate money for the state and compensate the state for the expenses of the building. I am the people of Alaska would like to know there is recovery on their investment. What is the plan?

  3. Well mannered pets should not be a problem. I don’t se an issue with it as long as there are strict and enforced rules. I was not in favor of the project but now that it is done, we should watch to make sure it’s run with the best interest of the tax payers in mind. Somehow having a strict limit on sesion length would be a good start. And then the apartments could be generating income the rest of the year. Even ” free” buildings aren’t free. They cast money every day.

    • Okay, let me school you. Tenant-A gets approval to bring a small dog. Consequently, Tenant-B reasonably concludes he can bring his large dog without approval. A manager tries to “enforce the strict rule” by telling Tenant-B to get rid of his large dog. First, Tenant-B is entitled to 10-days notice to correct. If he misses that deadline then he is entitled to 30-days notice to vacate. If he fails to vacate, he will have another 60-days before trial and forcible eviction. However, Tenant-B will claim he is being treated unfairly because Tenant-A is allowed a dog. Judges tend to apply their own definition of fairness rather than strictly applying AS.34 or lease terms. Possible legal costs to the state in this scenario: $20k.

      The only satisfaction is, the legislature itself wrote Title-34 in favor difficult and non-conforming tenants…. so their own chickens will come home to roost. Effective management requires serious motivation. Who in the state bureaucracy has that?

      • Wayne,
        You are entirely correct. I was not in favor of the project as it competed with the private sector but now you reveal other very good reasons that the state should not be in the business.
        Thank you.

  4. Oh no. We can’t rent out those apartments because all the legislators will have all their personal belongings stored there so that they do not have to keep hauling things back and forth. It will be handled like our schools and many other “public” buildings – when not in use, it will be locked up tight, Public not allowed to use.

  5. So, let me understand this. In addition to their large base salaries and free meals provided by lobbyists, legislators get $305.00 per day as per diem which comes to around $9,150 per month AND the most senior members can rent a small, downtown Juneau apartment for below rental market rates.
    This is quite the deal they have arranged for themselves while DOT and other state agencies are underfunded and our PFD is drifting away.

  6. This was NOT donated property. It was purchased by the legislature for 5 million dollars. About 2020 and in 2021, they argued about the cost of a contract for refurbishing the inside. The contract to refurbish was another 5 million dollars. So, the legislature spent 10 million of your PFD money to take care of their own bed and breakfast problems on top of still getting per diem and a pay raise, illegally, I might say but the butt that we have as Governor sees his role differently than the state constitution and the law. Why do you think that Treg calls the shots on protecting the illegal activity of the butt of the governor we have. Gad I didn’t vote for the idiot.

  7. So no more housing allowance? Or are we,the people, paying multiple times? Will these apartments be rented out or set empty after the 90 day lol session. I like an incentive for the legislators to be productive and get their work done in a timely manner.

  8. Since State-owned facilities have a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, the only legislator eligible to live there will be David Eastman. 😉

    • What? No more midnight beer pong and leg wrestling tournaments to “let off a little steam”? Say it isn’t so! TOGA, TOGA, TOGA!

      I guess the Alaska Department of Administration DIVISION OF FINANCE per-diem rules regarding provided no-cost housing don’t apply to legislators’ claims for “Lodging Allowance”, just the rest of the state agencies and working stiffs that travel.

      AAM 60. TRAVEL
      AAM 60.240 Lodging Types and Rates (09-23)
      A Traveler is not entitled to a Lodging Allowance when provided lodging by the STATE or a third party with whom the state is conducting business.

      Do as I say, not as I do.

  9. I have a good idea, let’s have the homeless live there full time. The homeless I’m sure will be happy to have roomates for four months per year. Win win for both sides.

  10. Might be worth asking IRS whether “senior” legislators receiving money to live in Government-owned housing, reserved exclusively for them, is a federally taxable perk.
    .
    To Senator Showers & co., why not challenge the constitutionality of legislative leaders using appropriated funds to subsidize essentially private housing, exclusively for “senior” legislators and unelected apparatchiki?
    .
    Why not find out whether federal funds were used in this discriminatory enterprise and, if so, report their use to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General
    .
    … and splash the results of both across news media, social media, talk shows?
    .
    But we could be wrong.
    .
    If drug-befuddled, drunken, predatory, psychotic bums are entitled to free public housing and meals,
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    why should “senior” legislators and unelected apparatchiki with arguably similar qualifications be treated any less charitably?
    .
    Good news is it wouldn’t be surprising, from looking at the picture, to find out the building’s easy to bug, or already bugged… which may be one of the few remaining governmental check-and-balances left to productive Alaskans.

  11. Or they can do us All a favor and convert their cars into sleepers like men and women are doing across the USA. Living out of their cars will save money for both the state tax-payers and them. YouTube user Solarcampercar can show our legislators and staff how to convert their cars into solar powered campers.

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