Last week when the Alaska Legislative Council voted to file a lawsuit to stop Governor Bill Walker from unilaterally accepting expansion of Medicaid in Alaska, Kodiak Senator Gary Stevens was not present.
Stevens chairs the council, which handles legislative business between sessions.
“I made it clear that I would vote against suing the governor.,” Stevens said. “But, you know it’s a committee that’s made up of seven house members and seven senate members, so a committee of 14. It takes eight votes to do anything. In this case there were 11 votes in favor of suing the governor.
“Again, I think it was a mistake, but that was a decision Legislative Council made. It was all primarily the leadership in both the house and the senate that got the votes together to move ahead with that lawsuit.”
Governors of other states – some of them even Republicans – have unilaterally accepted Medicaid expansion funds, and in fact, Alaska has two separate legal decisions saying it’s legal for Walker to do so.
“And so the lawsuit really is sort of flying in the face of legal counsel, both our own attorney and the attorney general,” Stevens said. “It just did not make any sense to me.”
But since it is going through, and it is the Alaska Legislature suing the Alaska Governor, Stevens says it’ll be done with Alaskan’s money.
“It’s probably going to cost us up to a million dollars to see this lawsuit move through the courts. It seems to me it’s shortsighted at a time when we are cutting the budget as strongly as we can, as seriously as we can,” he said. “If we can avoid a million dollars of unnecessary spending, we should try to do that.”
Though he is the chair of the Legislative Council, Stevens says he has no obligation to oversee the suit for the Legislature. He did not know when it will get its first court date.