Interior legislators prepare for Second Special Session

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - We are six days from the second special session and there is still a lot of uncertainty on what will transpire. Many of the public are unsure where it will even take place. At the end of the first special session Governor Mike Dunleavy called for the Legislature to meet in Wasilla on July 8th. We spoke to three legislators, Senator Scott Kawasaki, Representative Bart LeBon, and Representative Grier Hopkins; they all say they are heading to the State Capital.

"I'm heading to Juneau, that's our state capital; it's not Fairbanks, it's not Anchorage and I don't think believe it's Wasilla," said Rep. LeBon.

When officials said they were planning on meeting in Juneau, the State's Attorney General, Kevin Clarkson, said the Governor could have Alaska State Troopers court order legislators to convene in Wasilla.

"I'm not worried about that statement from the Attorney General, saying that he come and bring us back to Wasilla," started Rep. Hopkins. "We're in the state's capital. That's where the session is going to be happening."

The session will determine the amount Alaskans will receive for this year's Permanent Fund Dividend. In the first special session, the Alaska Legislature formed a working group designed to aid the body on how the Permanent Fund should be used in the state into the future. There are three amounts the group has been studying for this year's payout; $900, $1,600 and $3,000. When it comes to the amount for this year, all three legislators have different opinions. Going into the session, LeBon is supporting a $1,200 value. He is a part of the House Finance Committee. That is the amount the committee brought forward in the last session. Kawasaki is supporting the full statutory amount of $3,000. He was one of the Senate members that voted for that amount in the last session. Hopkins says he is unsure which value is right for Alaska.

"Right now, I don't know," said Rep. Hopkins. "The statutory allowance of $3,000 requires us to start scraping the bottom of the barrel and if we continue down that path for a long time, it's going to bankrupt our state."

The only one who said that the current calculation is sustainable was Kawasaki.

"Well, it is sustainable," began Rep. Kawasaki. "The way it is sustainable, is if we get our fair share for our resources. I fought several years ago against the oil and gas tax giveaway. It was a $2 billion dollar program that gives money to the oil industry. If we had that $2 billion dollars back, for the last several years, we wouldn't be in a deficit that we are know."

Despite the PFD being the only item on the session's proclamation, it will not be the first item discussed. The legislature has five days to overturn the vetoes put in place by the Governor last week.