Key Messages of the Week
➢ House Majority refuses reductions, prohibits the use of the words “slush fund” and “bureaucrat” on the floor, and puts forward a larger operating budget than Governor Walker originally introduced.
➢ The Senate passed SB 26, the Permanent Fund restructure/POMV bill, to close a significant portion of the state’s budget deficit.
➢ The Senate is sticking with its promise to focus cuts on the 4 largest agencies: DOT, the University system, DHSS and DEED.
March 13, 2017
- Both the House and Senate had floor sessions. The Senate brought forth SB 26,the Permanent Fund restructure bill, and then set it aside for debate on Wednesday. The House passed HB 23, providing insurance for the families of fallen public safety employees in Alaska, and began its first floor session on HB 57, the state’s operating budget.
- House Resources got an overview of the new version of HB 111, the Majority’s oil tax legislation. Concerns were raised regarding the new ‘indeterminate’ fiscal note by DNR and the new policy established in the bill that would require DNR to pre-authorize expenditures on the North Slope if companies planned to use the new version of net operating loss “credits.”
- Senate Finance sub-committees wrapped up their budget closeout work on the operating budget.
March 14, 2017
- The House held three different floor sessions, all related to HB 57/operating budget. Tensions between the Majority and Minority continued to escalate.
- The House Finance committee continued its examination of HB 115,focusing mostly on amendments related to the Permanent Fund/POMV/dividend portion of the bill.
- House Resources advanced HB 111out of committee on a caucus line vote of 5 to 4. This bill will raise taxes across the board on the oil and gas industry, and would represent the 7th change in 12 years to Alaska’s oil tax regime. The bill now goes to House Finance, and is scheduled every day next week.
March 15, 2017
- The Senate passed SB 26, which creates a POMV draw from the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account, a spending cap, $1000 dividends for three years, and revenue draw limit from the ERA. The vote was 12-8. With some members of the Majority joining the Minority in voting against it.
- Debate over the budget continued in the House. Multiple sessions were held throughout the day. One of the more contentious amendments dealt with arming state employees in the Department of Revenue and other agencies.
- Senate Finance took public testimony on the operating budget, SB 22.
March 16, 2017
- Another round of floor sessions in the House took place regarding the budget. Rep. Grenn introduced an amendment to cut legislative per diem by over half of its current rate. Over two hours was spent on this budget amendment. Rep. Wilson tried to eliminate per diem for Juneau legislators, though it failed. Rep. Saddler attempted to move the session to Anchorage to reduce costs (his amendment failed).
- Senate Finance continued public testimony on the operating budget.
March 17, 2017
- The final day of debate on the budget. Roughly 20-30 amendments were introduced by the House Minority to reduce the size of state government and all were shot down.
- Senate Finance committee took hours of public testimony on the operating budget.
- House Labor and Commerce listened to public testimony (most of which was in favor) on HB 132, which would allow companies like Uber/Lyft to finally operate in Alaska.