It’s a mess in the Alaska House of Representatives today, as the Democrat-led majority blocked as many as 30 amendments that were yet to be offered on the State Operating Budget, House Bill 69. It appeared that the Republican minority was having too much success getting their amendments through during a marathon session in the House over the weekend. Speaker Louise Stutes put an end to it.
The Saturday House session lasted over eight hours. But on Sunday, the process was delayed and delayed, which shows the difficulty of having what is a nearly evenly split House, where every vote counts. The Democrat-controlled majority is exceedingly fragile. When
Rep. Sara Rasmussen Rep. Kelly Merrick started voting with Republicans on some amendments, Rep. Geran Tarr simply exited the floor, making it impossible to get a majority vote. A “call on the House” was placed a couple of times to round her up from her hiding place.
On Sunday, the House majority was voted to stay in “third reading” on the budget, meaning dozens of proposed amendments would not be heard, even though they had been filed by the deadline. The Republican minority briefly left the House floor in disgust to caucus privately.
Normally, those minority members excluded from the House Finance budget process are allowed to offer amendments on the House floor. That is usually their only opportunity. But not today.
House Speaker Louise Stutes had a difficult time maintaining her composure and conducting business, clearly exhausted by the long days. At one point during the Saturday session, she uttered “Jesus,” in exasperation under her breath, but it was clearly audible by microphone. There were a number of “point of orders” that had tried her patience and limited skill set.
A few Republican amendments passed.
One, Amendment 19, by Rep. David Nelson, add funds to the Department of Law, using $200,000 from the Alaska Gasline Development Agency, all for the purpose of defending Second Amendment rights of Alaskans against the Biden Administration.
Rep. Sarah Vance’s Amendment 26 passed, reducing red tape with online applications.
Rep. George Rauscher amendment to eliminate legislators’ per diem after the first 121 days passed.
And Rep. David Eastman had a successful amendment — the Capitol Building must open to the public no later than Day 121 of this session.
House Minority Leader rose to speak to her disappointment in the process, which had disenfranchised over half of the state, whose representatives were not allowed to make floor amendments to the budget.
This is a developing story.