Updates from the 2019 legislative special session

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JUNEAU, Alaska After the State Legislature failed to approve a state budget during the regular session, The Governor signed a proclamation for special session, which started earlier today.

The Alaska State Legislature has officially begun a new special session. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy signed a proclamation decreeing the special session last night. During a press conference on Wednesday, the Governor said he was considering moving the session to the Mat-Su Valley, but ultimately decided to keep the session in Juneau.

According to the Alaska State Constitution, only topics written in a proclamation may be discussed or approved during a special session. The five items on the proclamation are:
• House Bill 39: An Operating Budget to start July 1st, 2019
• House Bill 40: A Mental Health Budget
• Senate Bill 19: A Capital Budget focused on infrastructure
• House Bill 49: A Criminal Reform Package to replace Senate Bill 91 passed in 2016
• An education appropriations bill, which has not been formerly drafted and/or submitted

In the proclamation, the Governor included the Permanent Fund Dividend under the operating budget. Dunleavy has made it clear he wants the full PFD calculations approved. He went on to express his disapproval of the legislature during the regular session, saying, “Alaskans have every right to be disappointed by the legislature’s inaction."

On the first day of the special session, per the Associated Press, Alaska House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on a sweeping crime package that one member says would repeal and replace a 2016 criminal justice overhaul.

The full House and Senate will still need to OK the package. A final vote is expected in the coming days.

The agreement was announced on the first day of the special session called by Gov. Mike Dunleavy after lawmakers reached the constitutional limit of the regular session Wednesday with major issues unresolved, including a crime bill.

Details on the agreement’s cost were being finalized.

The bill is intended to address public outcry over crime. It is one of the issues on the special session agenda. Dunleavy has also asked lawmakers to finish work on state spending plans and the dividend residents get from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund.

The Senate will reconvene Friday morning, while the House has elected to reconvene next Monday in the evening.

The State Legislature now has 30 days to make approvals on the five issues. If decisions are not made within that span of time, the Governor or the legislature may elect for a new special session.