With less than two weeks left in the 2012 legislative session, the pace in the state capital has picked up. The full Senate will likely vote on the $9.5-billion state operating budget this week, which will then go to a House-Senate conference committee where legislators will try to hammer our their differences. The state capital budget, which funds construction projects around the state, will soon follow.
Kodiak Senator Gary Stevens says the Senate is also working on a huge bond issue which, if passed by voters in the fall, will fund ports and harbor projects around the state.
— (Stevens 1 25 sec "Well, it originates in the senate … or anything like that.")
He said the projects in the bond have not yet been finalized, and he could not say if Kodiak’s Pier 3 reconstruction project will be included.
The Senate also should be ready to vote on its rewrite of the state’s oil production tax this week:
— (Stevens 2 28 sec "One of the big problems is … wish they had more time.")
Last week before the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, Stevens defended the Senate’s insistence that Big Oil in Alaska commit to more exploration and drilling in exchange for the tax break, something the governor and House have not insisted on. After the speech, the public comments on the Juneau Empire’s web page ran strongly in favor of Stevens’ position:
— (Stevens 3 18 sec "Well I’m glad to hear that … making sure we’re protected.")
With so many important issues coming down to the wire and what appear to be some major disagreements between the House and the Senate, the possibility of a special session is being talked about, but Stevens thinks it could be avoided:
— (Stevens 4 21 sec "I think we could do it right now … go into special session.")
Another issue that supporters in Kodiak and other coastal communities had hoped to be finished by now is reinstating the coastal management program, but Stevens says that issue appears dead:
— (Stevens 5 22 sec "Yeah, I’m sorry to say that it really is … moving as it should.")
In lieu of legislative action, a voter-sponsored initiative will go before voters in the primary or general election.