Sunday Minefield – September 19, 2021


Hope everyone is enjoying this great weekend! The snow will be here before we know it. The third special session ended this week with the legislature agreeing to pay a dividend of $ 1,100 with only hours to spare. Shortly after, the governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) has announced a fourth special session that will begin on October 1. The drama continues between the Anchorage Assembly and the Mayor of Anchorage Dave Bronson.

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End of the special session

The third special session ended on Tuesday (9/14/2021) with the Senate accepting the $ 1,100 dividend that the House had passed two weeks earlier. Until the vote in the Senate, it was not clear whether the Senate would agree with what the House had passed. Had the Senate changed the dividend amount or made changes to what the House added to the bill, it would have been referred to a conference committee had the House not approved the Senate changes. With only a few hours left in the special session, there would have been no time for a conference committee. The Senate could have made changes to the bill (increasing the dividend, adding or subtracting other expenses), give up and force the House to make a decision. But in this case, the Senate ended up agreeing with the version of the bill in the House. But not before some very cowardly behavior from a senator from Fairbanks (see the Loose unit).

The Senate vote on the bill was really bizarre. The bill passed 12-7, but four of the yes votes were from members of the Democratic minority. Eleven votes are needed to pass a bill. Six members of the majority, including the majority leader, the Senator Shelley hughes (R – Palmer), voted against the bill! It is just like when the budget was passed by the Senate in May. Without the votes of the Democratic minority, the budget and this bill would have failed. It’s ironic that the only thing that has maintained the Republican majority in the Senate is the Democrats in the Senate. Senator Tom begich (D – Anchorage) knows this, and knows the power he wields over the Speaker of the Senate Pierre Micciche (R – Soldotna). But after nearly a year of that, it looks like the Senate majority is really starting to unravel. Several sources tell me that it is so bad that the Senate majority cannot even hold a caucus meeting. A reorganization of the Senate seems imminent. The House is almost as dysfunctional. The chances of a reorganization in the House are almost as good as in the Senate.

After the Senate passed the dividend, the Governor Dunleavy issued a press release saying he was not happy with the amount of the dividend but would not veto it. Extract from his press release:

In a year when the Alaska Permanent Fund has earned nearly $ 20 billion and the total value of the fund exceeds $ 83 billion, there are members of the legislature who would like to eliminate the PFD and expand government, what whatever harm it would cause the Alaskans. . Our state continues to grapple with the economic ramifications of this virus, the distractions of employment issues, the lack of available workers, and supply chain disruptions. As we continue to debate this state’s fiscal future, the people of Alaska need help now.

On the one hand, a veto on this half-measure would seem appropriate, but at this point in the game it would help and encourage those who don’t care about individual Alaskans, small businesses and the economy. Accordingly, I will not veto this partial PFD, but I will recall the legislature in session on October 1 to secure the remainder of this year’s PFD and to resolve the state’s financial woes with a comprehensive tax plan.

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He also announced a fourth extraordinary session which will begin on October 1 at 10 a.m. Day one could certainly turn out to be wild if either body tried to reorganize itself. So far, the only thing on the call is “one or more acts relating to a tax plan”. If history has taught us anything, the chances of any kind of squeeze plan going through, especially in a special October session, are very low. Many lawmakers excused absences in October, but that doesn’t mean they won’t show up.

There is fatigue among lawmakers, legislative staff, executive staff and pretty much anyone who follows this stuff. Over the past two weeks, I have reported that two key senior executives, Suzanne Cunningham and Laura Stidolph, took jobs in the private sector. I also learned this week that Patrick fitzgerald left Representative Neal foster (D – Nome) to become the political coordinator of Teamsters Local 959. Congratulation, Patrick! Other staff have told me they are planning to leave or are actively looking for other employment. I spent the last three years in Juneau during the semester. The Capitol is a toxic place. Many staff and lobbyists who have been around for a long time tell me it has never been so bad. So it’s no surprise that people are leaving the ship.

Other events

The constituency council met this week and heard from third-party groups who submitted their own maps. They will meet tomorrow to decide whether or not to adopt third-party cards. The council recently adopted two of its own card projects. A final card must be chosen before November 10.

Ryan mckee is back in the Legislature. He is now the representative’s chief of staff George rauscher (R – Sutton). Congratulation, Ryan! McKee stepped down as director of state for Americans for Prosperity Alaska earlier this summer.

Bill walker and Heidi Dry gas announced co-chairs for their gubernatorial campaign this week. Note the former president of the Senate Catherine giessel, a Republican, is on the list. Also note the former president and current representative Bryce edgmon (I – Dillingham). But what is really interesting are the reps Ivy Spohnholz (D – Mooring), Andy josephson (D – Mooring), and Adam wool (D – Fairbanks). The Walker campaign is clearly trying to consolidate Democrat support away from The Gara.

You have to like the irony here.

The drama between the Anchorage Assembly and the mayor Dave Bronson keep on going. Thursday I posted this story on Bronson the former director of real estate and a complaint she filed about a person the administration hired to work in her department without her approval. Shortly after the story was published, Bronson announced in a press release that this person is now the new real estate manager! This tweet from the Assembly member Forrest Dunbar abstract.

The Assembly now has a special meeting planned tomorrow at 1 p.m. And Saturday, member of the Assembly Jamie Allard and some members of the Bronson administrative, including Niki Tshibaka, organized a sympathetic event in the halls of the Assembly where they questioned the impacts of COVID on hospitals. Next Tuesday’s Assembly meeting (09/28/2021) will be on.

This week’s free unit

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Ermine skate

It was one of those weeks when the nominee was clear at the start of the week. This week Loose unit is a senator Scott Kawasaki (D – Fairbanks). Tuesday, Kawasaki was one of five senators who introduced an amendment to pay a dividend of $ 2,350. After debate, the amendment passed 10-9!

Then Kawasaki has become full Loose unit. Immediately after the adoption of the amendment, Kawasaki made a time-out gesture for Micciche. After a short break, he stood up and offered to overturn the decision on the previous vote. Basically he called for a vote. He made an odd speech about how the House had already broken down and said the Senate was playing chicken with a wall. He made sure to repeatedly state how he supports a large PFD and how he just voted for one. The Senate agreed to cancel the action on the previous vote. The vote was the same as before, except for one vote. Kawasaki! Talk cowardly. It reminds me of the saying applied to many politicians: “I was for before I was against! You can watch everything here.

If you have an appointment for this week Loose unit, or if you have any political news, stories or gossip (or old photos of politicians or officials), please email me at [email protected]

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