Governor Mike Dunleavy speaks in front of Wasilla Middle School. Dunleavy orignially called the Legislature to a second special session at that location, but changed it to Juneau on July 17.(Photo by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)
More than a week after Alaska lawmakers started a session in two different cities, the split is over.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on Wednesday that the location of the second special session has been changed from Wasilla to Juneau. Dunleavy also added the capital budget to the agenda, effective Wednesday.
Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow said the governor is allowing legislative work to advance.
“The governor has said we have to find a way to move forward and, certainly, meeting in two locations is not going to allow that to happen,” Shuckerow said.
Legislative leaders thanked Dunleavy for the changes.
Senate President Cathy Giessel, an Anchorage Republican, said the changes followed a series of meetings the governor has held with the four caucus leaders.
“We were very thankful that we could find alignment on the subject of location and the priority of the capital budget,” she said.
Lawmakers have expressed concern that Alaska could lose up to $1 billion in federal funding if the state doesn’t fund its share of the capital budget by July 31.
While the Legislature passed the capital budget last month, lawmakers couldn’t agree on how to fund it.
Dunleavy called the special session in Wasilla, but majorities of both chambers met in Juneau. Dueling lawsuits have been filed seeking to invalidate each location.
Anchorage Republicans Sen. Mia Costello and Rep. Lance Pruitt asked Dunleavy to add the capital budget to the call. Pruitt said the governor showed leadership with the new proclamation.
“The governor said, ‘You know, I am going to do everything I can to bring people together, so that we can have these conversations,’” Pruitt said.
House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, a Dillingham independent, said in a statement that the announcement is a significant step to ending the political turmoil disrupting Alaskans’ lives.
Lawmakers are expected to arrive in Juneau on Thursday, the 11th day of the 30-day special session.
ORIGINAL POST by Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media
After over a week in two locations, the Legislature will convene in Juneau.
In a declaration Wednesday, Governor Mike Dunleavy amended his call for the second special session to have it take place in Juneau, rather than his original choice: Wasilla.
The Governor also expanded the session agenda to allow for capital appropriations. Initially, the sole topic of discussion during the session was the size of the Permanent Fund dividend.
Legislative leadership had contended that they had the jurisdiction to decide where to meet for the session, and most legislators met in the capitol for the start of the session last Monday. But a sizable chunk of lawmakers more sympathetic to Dunleavy’s positions convened at Wasilla Middle School. The divide was large enough that Juneau lawmakers didn’t have enough votes last week to override the governor’s line-item vetoes.
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