SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Special Session Convenes Saturday


October 23, 2015
Friday AM

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - Lawmakers will convene in Juneau for the third Special Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature on Saturday, which Governor Walker called last month. During that time, the Legislature will consider the Governor’s proposal to buy TransCanada’s share of the gas pipeline and gas treatment facility giving the state 25 percent control over the project, and his proposal to impose an ad valorem tax on gas leases that are not committed to the Alaska LNG project. Governor Walker stressed that these items are critical to moving forward a gasline project in the best interest of Alaskans.

“With a $3.5 billion budget deficit, building a gasline is our state’s number one get well card,” said Governor Walker. “The purpose of this briefing is to outline my special session legislation to lawmakers, so they have a clear understanding of my intent. I want this session to be a success, so starting out with this informational briefing is critically important.”

“I am looking forward to working with lawmakers during this special session,” Governor Walker said. “It is imperative that we not only have a seat at the table in the Alaska LNG process but that we have taken the steps to incentivize our partners to choose to commit the gas within their leases to an Alaska LNG project.”

The House and Senate Resources Committees will meet on Saturday, October 24 to consider a gas reserves tax proposal by the Walker Administration. As of Wednesday, October 21, legislation had not been presented to the Legislature for review. The House and Senate Finance Committees will meet to consider the TransCanada buyout and what is ultimately a $7 billion decision for the State of Alaska.

“The Legislature is looking forward to delving into the details of these critical measures,” Senate President Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage) said. “Unfortunately, we have lost some time to prepare and work on these issues because of the delay in receiving the bills, but nonetheless, we are ready to tackle these issues and move a gas line project that is in the best interest of Alaskans. We will have to make up for that, but we will get there by hitting the ground running with the Resources and Finance Committees meeting as soon as we gavel in.”

“We appreciate the governor’s willingness to hold a briefing for the entire Legislature,” House Speaker Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) said. “We’ve already lost valuable time by not having an opportunity to review the legislation prior to special session, and we feel we can accomplish more by working through the legislative process and have committees start on day one. It is our intention to hold committee meetings daily until the job is done.”

The members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC) say they are also looking forward to the Governor’s detailed briefing but are dismayed by the announcement from the Senate President and the Speaker of the House that members of the House Finance and Senate Resources Committee’s will be encouraged to skip the briefing in favor of committee hearings on the same subjects at the same exact time as the Governor’s briefing.

“The Governor is trying to make sure all lawmakers are informed so they can make good decisions about a natural gas pipeline project that can be one of the pillars of our future economy,” said AIDC Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “Holding committee hearings without all the information can only result in bad decisions. I hope the Speaker and Senate President will reconsider and allow all lawmakers to attend the special session briefing.”

Governor Walker has reserved five hours Saturday afternoon at Centennial Hall in Juneau to present detailed information to all 60 lawmakers on the three items under consideration in the upcoming special session. Those items include legislation to encourage producers to commit gas to the Alaska LNG project, buyout TransCanada’s equity position in the project, and fund continued work on the project.

“I think it is wrong to point fingers at the Governor before the special session even starts,” said House Finance Committee member Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage). “The gasline is crucial to the future of Alaska. It’s not rocket science to figure out the issues while in special session if we all do our work.”

The House and Senate are scheduled to convene the third Special Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature Saturday with simultaneous floor sessions at 11 am. Governor Walker’s briefing for all lawmakers is scheduled for 1 pm, at the exact same time, the House Finance Committee and the Senate Resources Committee are scheduled to hold hearings on the Governor's legislation.

Both the House and Senate will gavel in for the third special session of the 29th Alaska Legislature at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 24.

Governor Bill Walker and members of his gasline team will also host a briefing for lawmakers and the general public on Sat., Oct. 24 from 8:00 to 10:30 a.m. in preparation for the gasline special session. The event will be held at Centennial Hall in Juneau and will be aired live on Gavel to Gavel.




Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Office of Governor Bill Walker



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