NEWS: House and Senate Minorities Propose Creating a Caucus of the Whole in the Alaska Legislature

Juneau – Last Friday was the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Alaska Constitution.  The convention in Fairbanks featured 55 Alaskans, elected from all regions and walks of life.  These far-thinking delegates came together as one and crafted a document that has guided not only the state government, but also Alaska’s institutions and people.  The constitutional example is being followed today by the Alaska Senate Democrats and the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition as they propose a new structure for the 29th Alaska Legislature.

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NEWS: Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition and Alaska Senate Democrats Press Availability Scheduled

Juneau – The Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC) and Alaska Senate Democrats will hold a press availability before the start the Second Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature. The availability will allow lawmakers to discuss specific issues and take questions from the media. The press availability will be held Tuesday, January 19, at 9 am in the Fahrenkamp Room of the Capital Building in Juneau. The press availability will feature Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) and Alaska Senate Democrats Leader Sen. Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage).

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NEWS: Pre-filed Bill Seeks to End High Cost Legislator Hotel, Dining, and Special Session Perks

Anchorage – Today, three members of the Alaska House of Representatives announced that they have pre-filed legislation to stop expensive charges by some legislators for hotels and meals. The bill also bans legislators from claiming per diem payments, which can exceed $200 per day, when Special Sessions are held in their home towns with no actual hotel costs. Last summer, some legislators and staff billed the state over $400 and $500 per night (including taxes) for hotel rooms in Seattle to attend the annual summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures. This occurred as the state is facing a more than $3 billion budget shortfall.

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NEWS: Massive Scope of Proposed Fiscal Changes Demands Thorough Review of Impacts on Alaskans of All Income Levels

ANCHORAGE – Today, Alaska Governor Bill Walker unveiled an ambitious budget plan called “The New Sustainable Alaska Plan” that shifts much of the burden of paying for state government from the oil and gas industry onto the backs of hard-working, average Alaskans. The Governor’s proposal includes fundamental changes to how vital state services in Alaska are funded including new or increased taxes on income, fishing, mining, tourism, alcohol, tobacco, and motor fuel. The Governor’s proposal also makes drastic cuts to vital early education opportunities in Alaska and would result in significantly reduced Permanent Fund Dividends. The 13 members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition thank Governor Walker for his leadership and the public process used to come up with the proposed budget plan but will insist that every proposed change be thoroughly vetted by the Alaska Legislature.

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NEWS: Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Supports Legislation to Remove Unneeded Partner from AKLNG Natural Gas Pipeline Project

JUNEAU – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives joined the Alaska Senate in approving legislation funding the buyout of TransCanada from the long-awaited AKLNG natural gas pipeline project. Removing TransCanada from the AKLNG partnership increases the state of Alaska’s total ownership share in the pipeline and associated infrastructure up to twenty-five percent.

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NEWS: Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Ready for the Gasline Special Session

ANCHORAGE – The third Special Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature is scheduled to start Saturday morning with House and Senate floor sessions. Governor Bill Walker has scheduled a briefing for all lawmakers Saturday afternoon to outline the details of the three pieces of legislation that will be under consideration. The members of the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition (AIDC) are looking forward to the Governor’s detailed briefing but are dismayed by today’s announcement from the Senate President and the Speaker of the House that members of the House Finance and Senate Resources Committee’s will be encouraged to skip the briefing in favor of committee hearings on the same subjects at the same exact time as the Governor’s briefing.

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NEWS: Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Disappointed Legislative Council Fails to Withdraw Medicaid Expansion Lawsuit

ANCHORAGE – Earlier today, the Alaska State Legislature’s Republican-controlled Legislative Council failed to withdraw its ill-advised lawsuit against Governor Bill Walker over his decision to accept federal funds to expand eligibility for the Medicaid program in Alaska. The Legislative Council, which only includes one member of the minority in the House and Senate, met behind closed doors in Anchorage to discuss the Council’s lawsuit. At the conclusion of the meeting, the Council took no action. The result of this inaction is that the lawsuit will continue.

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