MUST PASS HOUSE, HOWEVER
If there’s an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Alaska Legislature, how will the budget get passed?
The Alaska Senate today unanimously approved a resolution allowing legislators to vote remotely if voting can no longer safely take place in the Capitol.
“While the Legislature continues to convene here in the Capitol, this resolution ensures that the people’s business will not be delayed, regardless of how this pandemic develops or in the event of other natural disasters,” said Senate President Peter Micciche. “We’re here to get the people’s work done and resolve the big issues facing Alaskans – come hell or high water.”
“We hope we don’t need to utilize this,” said Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, the resolution’s sponsor. “But it makes sense to give the Legislature the maximum flexibility to serve our constituents.”
Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 would suspend the Legislature’s uniform rules, which requires a two-thirds vote of the full membership of each house. It passed the Senate by a vote of 19-0 and is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives for consideration.
Three of seven amendments were adopted that were basically cleanup amendments. One clarifies that the person using video conferencing for participating would either be doing so because of a COVID diagnosis or because they have to be in quarantine. Another specified that the resolution only pertains to regular and a first special session. The third clarifies that if there’s a technical or internet issue preventing a member from participating, the presiding officer could allow the member to report a bill from committee by telephone.