House Republicans Push for Holding Special Session in Anchorage; Speaker Says Special Session Will Remain in Juneau
October 18, 2017
“Conducting our business in Anchorage will better enable Alaskans to engage, and personally participate, in legislative deliberations on anti-crime legislation and the governor's proposed tax,” said Representative Chris Birch (R-Anchorage).
However, Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham) provided information about why the upcoming Fourth Special Session should be held in the state capital of Juneau. According to the non-partisan Legislative Affairs Agency moving the session would incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional costs. This would occur just as lawmakers are wrestling with solutions to Alaska’s ongoing fiscal challenges.
Speaker Edgmon has informed the members of the Alaska House of Representatives that the special session will start as scheduled Monday morning and will remain in Juneau for the duration of the session.
“Juneau is the best equipped as well as the cheapest location for our work. Changing the location would require moving people and equipment at the last minute at great expense to the State of Alaska,” said Speaker Edgmon. “Alaskans are accustomed to being able to follow the daily work of their elected representatives online and on television through Gavel Alaska, but that service is only available in the state capital. Any perceived benefit from holding a session outside of Juneau would be far outweighed by the lack of transparency if Alaskans statewide can’t follow what we do and how we make decisions.”
Governor Walker stipulated that the upcoming Special Session be held in Juneau. To change that location the Alaska House of Representatives would have to first convene in Juneau before moving to another location. The entire House of Representatives, numerous agency and support staff, and equipment would have to be uprooted and moved, at great expense, to Anchorage.
“The House has been sensitive to the urgency around criminal justice reform and has held multiple hearing in Anchorage so that we are prepared to act quickly when the legislature convenes in Juneau. Moving the proceedings to Anchorage would slow down the legislature’s ability to take swift action,” said Speaker Edgmon.
The non-partisan Legislative Affairs Agency reports that a 30-day fall special session in Juneau would cost significantly less than a similar session in Anchorage. That savings estimate does not include the huge expense of renting a large facility in Anchorage for 30-days on short notice.
The House Republicans members’ request to move the special session to Anchorage was made pursuant to Alaska Statute 24.05.100(a)(2), which requires two-thirds of the legislature’s membership to respond in the affirmative and, if the legislature is to convene at a location other than the capital, the presiding officers shall agree to and designate the location in the poll.
Fifteen House Representatives already indicated they would prefer to have the upcoming special session held in Anchorage. A total of 25 more “yes” votes between the House and Senate would be needed for the special session to be held in Alaska’s largest city.
If the poll is conducted by the presiding officers of each house, the poll would determine whether the legislature would call itself into special session for the purpose of considering the items listed in Governor Bill Walker’s fourth special session proclamation in the Municipality of Anchorage.
The following House Republicans signed a letter to House Speaker Edgmon asking for the special session to be held in Anchorage; Rep. Chris Birch, Rep. David Eastman, Rep. DeLena Johnson, Rep. Jennifer Johnston, Rep. Chuck Kopp, Rep. Charisse Millett, Rep. Mark Neuman, Rep. Lance Pruitt, Rep. George Rauscher, Rep. Lora Reinbold, Rep. Dan Saddler, Rep. Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, Rep. David Talerico, Rep. Steve Thompson, Rep. Cathy Tilton.
According to a news release from Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, the Fourth Special Session of the 30th Alaska State Legislature is still scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, October 23rd in the Capitol Building in Juneau.
Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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