Will Legislature extend to 131 days? What happened to 90? - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, December 15, 2019
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Will Legislature extend to 131 days? What happened to 90?

In 2006, Alaska voters approved Ballot Measure 1,  mandating the 90-day session for the Alaska Legislature. The first 90-day session was held in 2008. But in the 13 years since then the law passed, the Legislature has rarely met the conditions of  statute enacted by popular vote.

Why? The Alaska Constitution says 121 days, and the Constitution trumps the statute. And although the 90-day session law was created by voters, there’s no way for voters to enforce it.

In 2011, there was a brief effort to end the 90-day rule. But now, it’s more of a speed bump on the way to a 121-day session.

House Joint Resolution 2, offered by Democrat Matt Claman this year, would put a limit into the state constitution, limiting the session to 90 days. On Feb. 20, that bill was referred to State Affairs Committee, then Judiciary, and then Finance. It’s still stuck in State Affairs.

Meanwhile, the talk around the Capitol this morning is whether the Legislature will vote to extend the 121 days they’ve been in Juneau. With vote of 2/3 of each house, they may do so in order to finish up their work.

But getting the Republican Minority to go along with that is going to be the challenge. The Democrat-led Majority will likely vote as a block to extend session so that the Democrats can water down the criminal justice reforms in conference committee.

The Majority has 25 votes to extend, with Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux likely voting with the Majority, even though she is technically not in it. The 15 Republicans that make up the Republican caucus will likely vote as a block not to extend. They’ve been betrayed by fellow Republicans who joined the Democrats, and they’ve been bullied by House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, so they are in no mood to do the Majority any favors, especially when it comes to weakening the rollback of SB 91 (a former criminal justice reform package).

That would leave the “sine die” adjournment at midnight Wednesday, with a slim to none chance that both bodies would find enough votes to extend.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Folks call each of the 15 members of the Republican Minority. NOT NO BUT HECK NO ON ANY EXTENSION AND SAME ON ANY SPECIAL SESSION CALLED BY THE LEGISLATURE!

    We need the special session called by the Governor, IN Wasilla!

    The We the People can and will voice our disdain and displeasure to all those in the Democrat-Socialist Majority, including and specfically to those turncoats Reps Kopp, Knoop, Johnston, Lebon, Wilson, Thompson, and Stutes!

  • As the dims spent most of the entire regular session backstabbing and trying to discredit our Governor and running around the state on “other peoples’ money”, they “didn’t have time” to do the jobs they were “selected” to do. Now, at the end of the regular session, they complain and want to “amend” the constitution to give themselves 30% more time in session, to further pollute Alaska. Is it financial gain for them, or just plain old stupidity and dereliction of “duty”? I choose both/all. If these fools haven’t shown Alaskans the foolishness of putting them in office, nothing will. Be aware, Alaskans. They will be up for “re-selection” sooner or later. The voting booth is the prime venue for action against these idiots’ deeds and venom, against all things Alaskan.

    • Ben, agreed. Yet Claman wants a Constitutional Amendment but him and Fields refused to allow a hearing of the Governor’s Constitutional Amendments that would save the PFD, would cap spending and give We the People the final say on any taxation!
      This coming election must be hard core with people running to replace the Democrat-Socialist and RINO’s whom actually understand the Constitution and the reason for Government, to work for We the People, not lord over us!

  • Remember that these people in the legislature, our voted in persons, do not have regular jobs when they get back home and the money from the legislative purse is better than their skills in their respective places of living and potential employment. So, it’s better that they drag their feet and vote no on important bills just to stay employed with more money coming in than they can produce in their respective home bases. They hide, lie and stay hidden from the actual time they commit with, “its someone else’s problem” attitude and voting stature. The hell with the persons that gave them a vote to put them there to do a timely job.

  • Guess I don’t understand this one. If they adjourn, then doesn’t that stop the work of the conference committee on SB49, so they get nothing at all?

      • Woe be that person!

  • I bet they’d get things done if there wasn’t a per diem for extension time

  • Lance, any effort up your way to recall Wilson, LeBon and/or Thompson?

    • Haven’t seen any effort on that.

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