Special Session May Be Unavoidable


Jay Barrett/KMXT

As the clock ticks down to the end of the Alaska Legislature’s regular session, lawmakers in both the House and Senate are trying to wrap up some major issues and avoid a special session. However Kodiak Representative Alan Austerman, the House Majority Leader, thinks extra time in Juneau might be inevitable.

— (Austerman 1 31 sec "Oh, I wouldn’t say I’m … a bit of time to do that.")

The oil tax bill could be voted on by the full Senate in the next few days, giving the House just about one week to address it, save it for a special session, or wait to try again when the new Legislature convenes next January.

The end-of-session tension in the state capital is reminiscent of last year, when many of the same issues were gumming up the works:

— (Austerman 2 27 sec "I’d say it gets in the way … last year on taxes as well.")

Austerman says the House will likely produce the ports and harbor’s bond issue before the Senate does with the time remaining in the session. Replacement of Kodiak’s Pier 3, the cargo dock, is a priority for the city.

— (Austerman 3 19 sec "I think that what’ll happen … hand them off to each other.")

Austerman was the author of the House bill to reintroduce the Coastal Management Program, but he agrees it’s probably dead in the water:

— (Austerman 4 29 sec "It appears to me that there’s … hope to get defeated there.")

If a bill is not produced, there will be a statewide vote on reinstating the program on either the primary or general election ballot. Austerman says he feels the opposition in the House to coastal management in general mostly comes from pro-development interests:

— (Austerman 5 25 sec "Yeah, I would say it was pro- … voiced on quite frequently.")

He says he’s waiting for the Senate’s version of the capital budget, which pays for various projects around the state to see how many of his priorities are funded. He does not think Kodiak projects specifically are in danger of retaliatory veto as a result of the tension between the Senate, whose president is Gary Stevens, and the governor. The Legislature is due to adjourn its regular session on April 15.


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