Will Senate Finance co-chairs ‘pocket veto’ the PFD constitutional amendment?


With only 10 days left in the legislative special session, the Senate Finance Committee has yet to hear SJR 6, the governor’s request that the Legislature allow Alaska voters to vote on a constitutional amendment for the Permanent Fund dividend calculation.

The resolution has been sitting in Senate Finance since May 14, with nothing on the schedule to indicate that the co-chairs Sen. Click Bishop and Sen. Bert Stedman plan to hear the governor’s proposal.

This is shaping up to look like a “pocket veto,” where a lawmaker just stuffs a bill into his/her proverbial pocket and it never sees the light of day.

The other legislators do have recourse. Uniform Rules says they can bounce SJR 6 out of Finance and into Rules, where it would either get locked down by the Rules Chair similarly, or proceed to the floor for a vote.

Bouncing a bill out of committee effectively means rolling the chair, which isn’t likely to happen in Finance, considering the makeup. But Uniform Rule 24 says that chairs are obligated to not just consider bills that come before them, but must act on them in some way. They don’t get to just sit on bills.

If they do sit on SJR 6, there’s also Rule 48, the “right to discharge” a bill from a committee. Either the majority of the committee can send a request in writing to the presiding officer, requesting the bill be scheduled, which it then must be within three days, Or a member of the body on the floor of the Senate can make an oral motion to have the bill discharged. That is not always successful, but can be.

In 2018, Sen. Mia Costello wanted the repeal to SB 91 (the lenient crime bill ) to move from Senate Judiciary Committee. Costello, Sen. Mike Shower, and Sen. Bill Wielechowski rolled Judicary Chair John Coghill, forcing the bill to move along.

The governor originally proposed HJR 7, which is currently in House Judiciary and does not reflect the improvements of SJR 6 made in Senate Judiciary. SJR 6 would take the annual calculation of the Permanent Fund dividend out of political hands and protect it in the Constitution. It would similarly protect the Power Cost Equalization Fund.


  1. The Capitol needs to be opened up to the public…government behind closed doors is never good for society.

  2. So good to know that our legislators look out for us. Another reason to move the legislative session to the road system where we can meet them in the streets and knock on their doors.

  3. How many actual Republicans are there in the legislature? Seemingly the Democrats and the Democrats In Disguise always seem to control the levers of power

  4. SJR 6 is likely going to die for a lot of reasons that go beyond the co-chairs of the Senate Finance Committee. The obvious substantive reasons for the death of SJR 6 include the obvious overdraw of funds the measure includes. SJR 6 accelerates spending way beyond the 5% Percentage of Market Value metric in state law and puts future earnings from the Permanent Fund in jeopardy. It hasn’t helped that the Governor, who is pepped up about moving SJR 6 decided to take a little time off and go out bear hunting instead of working with legislators on this measure or some sort of alternative that would benefit Alaskans or that the Governor departed Alaska in the closing phase of the legislative session and spent time down in Tennessee hanging around with a bunch of other Outside politicians.
    I give Governor Dunleavy credit for proposing SJR 6, which is a change from his previous stance on the PF and PFD. But the failure to concentrate and attend to a measure that would address the long-standing allocation issues that are related to how we spend the earnings derived from our Permanent Fund is telling. The lack of coherence, failure to concentrate and inability to communicate on the part of the administration here is the real story. Blame and dysfunctional political theater is what we can expect in the next few weeks. The legislature will enact a budget that includes a status quo budget, an anemic capital budget and a modest PFD. The big question is whether Governor Dunleavy will exercise his constitutional authority to veto or reduce some of the appropriations made by the legislature. Cuts in the amount of $200M can be justified but will likely not be made. We’ll just float along ignoring the obvious imbalanced finances of Alaska, hoping oil prices will pick up or that the federal government will somehow, magically, bail us out of our wanton spending ways.
    It’s a recipe for disaster. We’ve spent too much, saved too little and are not addressing in a meaningful manner the obvious and long-standing systemic fiscal issues that have been apparent for at least six years.
    Oh well ………………………..
    We get what we deserve in this little democracy.

  5. Geldhof: “We’ve spent too much, saved too little and are not addressing in a meaningful manner the obvious and long-standing systemic fiscal issues that have been apparent for at least six years.”
    Wow Joe, we both agree on something!

  6. I have a better idea- put it on the ballot and let the people of Alaska decide. We’re done with the thieves called “politicians”.

  7. Again it’s our PFD.
    There is already a law saying that.
    They will just break that new law too.
    Vote out all these stealers of our PfD

  8. Thank you Suzanne Downing and MRAK for describing these activities in this manner. It is so hard just to keep track of all the laws, amendments, and amendments to the amendments. Now I see that there is a whole host of Uniform rules to watch as well. I’m sure there are more rules of some sort we don’t know about. No wonder progress is so slow. It’s like driving the Parks Highway through Wasilla at quittin time…drive a block and hit the brakes and wait, because all the lights are red, no matter which road side road you take or which direction you are going.

  9. Math seems clear:
    Alaska’s Lobbyist Directory with 421 lines of special interests who paid lobbyists to buy or lease Alaska’s politicians…
    productive Alaskans who want what they were promised in lieu of subsurface mineral rights… plus a weary plea to be left the hell alone by their rotten lobbyist-legislator team.
    Hard to predict who’ll win this one…

  10. The issue is the law. We still don’t have our land rights, but they have taken half our pfd for years now. The law hasn’t changed. They just stole what they wanted rather than change the law. Rather than reducing spending. We have become a massive welfare state and we can’t support what we’ve become. Reduce spending and you wouldn’t have to change the law. But stealing to support your spending habit is unlawful. Period.

  11. Bishop and Stedman – A couple of lackeys for the AFLCIO union goons – keeping Alaskan’s permanent fund shares for their own interests. These guys are expert obstructionists. Good thing they aren’t in charge of pension funds.. oh wait!
    God forbid the people of Alaska would have the opportunity to evaluate the issues and communicate with elected officials through a vote. People like Bishop and Stedman would probably just find a way to ignore the will of the people just like they continue to do on the 90-day session limit.

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