Former North Pole Republican Rep. Al Vezey is working with Fairbanks attorney Bill Satterberg to file a lawsuit against legislators meeting in Juneau, according to an announcement made during a news conference with legislators in Wasilla early Monday.
Satterberg confirmed the statement in an afternoon phone interview with the Daily News-Miner.
"The complaint is that the governor has designated a special session and he has also specified in Wasilla," Satterberg said, adding that he thinks Wasilla is a "better" location.
Vezey and Satterberg are basing the lawsuit on their interpretation that the lawmakers meeting in Juneau are in violation of state statute and the Alaska Constitution, both of which they argue supports Gov. Mike Dunleavy's ability to designate the location of a special session.
Satterberg also questioned the legality of any possible legislation passed in Juneau.
"The interesting thing is, if those lawmakers approve anything down there, is any of the work they do legally effective? Did it even officially occur?" Satterberg said.
Vezey and Satterberg are working together to seek an injunction and judgment stating that lawmakers meeting in Juneau are violating the Constitution.
"We are asking the court to declare the call in Juneau as illegal," Satterberg said.
But legal questions still remain. Essentially, Satterberg noted, the lawsuit will be asking the courts for guidance on the issue.
From there, he added, the plan is to heed what the courts decide.
Satterberg added that the plan is to file the lawsuit by the end of the week.
"Our goal is as soon as possible, but we need to get it in final draft and we want to make sure to do some additional legal research to make sure we have a legal basis," Satterberg said. "From the research I've done over the weekend I think we do, but we just want to look into it to be sure."
In a conference call with reporters last month, state Attorney General Kevin Clarkson noted one legal possibility is for the governor to sue individual legislators who do not appear in Wasilla. While the Constitution strictly prohibits the executive branch suing the legislative branch as a whole, Clarkson seemed to think the governor held legal ground to sue individual lawmakers. Should the courts support such a lawsuit, they could issue a court order for lawmakers meeting in Juneau to appear in Wasilla. If they don't, the courts could call out the Alaska State Troopers to "round them up and take them to Wasilla," Clarkson said.
Satterberg said he's not aware of any action of that nature being taken by the governor.
The Legislature's Legal Services Division director, Megan Wallace, issued a legal memo last month stating that the Legislature has the power to designate where it meets based on the constitutional separation of powers between the governor and the Legislature.
Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.