Hello from Juneau. As you may know, the 32nd Alaska Legislature is currently in special session following adjournment from the first session late Wednesday, May 19. On the agenda for the special session are the fiscal year 2022 Operating Budget and Mental Health Budget, as well as Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed constitutional amendments regarding the Permanent Fund, the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) and the Power Cost Equalization Program, which subsidizes electrical costs throughout rural Alaska to bring them more in line with power costs in road system communities. 

The governor has called for an additional special session starting August 2 to consider his proposed constitutional amendment to establish a state spending limit, and a constitutional amendment prohibiting any new state taxes without voter approval. The August special session agenda also includes discussion of potential new state revenues and appropriations from the state’s allotment of $1 billion in federal pandemic relief funds.

Special sessions can last up to 30 days. Our hope is to complete work on the budget items well before the time limit. The complexity of the constitutional amendments may mean debate will continue into the 2022 session.

 

THE BUDGET

The Senate passed its version of the $4.43 billion budget bill (HB 69) on the final day of the regular session. In addition to operating expenses, the Senate bill contains the FY 2022 capital budget and a $2,300 PFD. These are tentative figures. The final numbers will be worked out through a joint-conference committee composed of three members from each body before it goes back to legislators for approval. The governor will have his say on the budget after that.

 

FOLLOWING THE BUDGET PROCESS

A good way to keep track of where the budget bill is in the process is through the Legislative Information Office near you.

The Cordova LIO can be reached at (907) 424-5461.

The Kodiak LIO can be reached at (907) 486-8116.

The Homer LIO can be reached at (907) 235-7878.  

The Kenai LIO can be reached at (907) 283-2030.

 

PERSONAL LEGISLATION UPDATE

SB 19 was approved by the House on the session’s last day and goes next to the governor for consideration. The bill extends the sunset date for the Special Education Service Agency (SESA) until June 2029. SESA is governed by the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education. The council assists school districts in serving children with outreach services, special education instructional support and training.

SJR 8 unanimously passed the House on Monday, April 19. The resolution requests Alaska’s Congressional Delegation, the governor and the U.S. Department of the Interior work collaboratively to finish the federal land grant endowment to the University of Alaska (UA) it is due under the Morrill Land-Grant College Act of 1862. To date, UA has not received any of the federal land granted to states for higher education, and has only received a fraction of reserved land allocated under the 1915 Wickersham land grant. Consequently, UA has one of the smallest holdings of all land grant institutions in the country. 

As the governor has set the agenda for the special session, my other personal legislation working through the Senate and House are not eligible for further committee debate right now. They remain available for consideration again in 2022. I look forward to working on them again at that time.

 

PLEASE KEEP IN TOUCH

Your thoughts on the many matters coming before the legislature are important. Please do not hesitate to reach out. 

Send me emails at: Sen.Gary.Stevens@akleg.gov

My Capitol phone numbers are 1-800-821-4925 and 907-465-4925.

Contact my Homer office at 907-235-0690.

My Kodiak office’s number is 907-486-4925.

 

INTERIM REPORT AHEAD

This will be the final Capitol Report of the year, but I will be resuming the monthly Interim Report starting in June. 

As always, thank you to Senate District P’s media for their help in sharing this information with you. Thanks also to you for reading the column.

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