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We Build Alaska

First day of House budget amendments normal, minus regional drama between Kenai and Fairbanks

The Alaska House of Representatives spent the day hearing the first round of amendments to the operating budget. They convened just after 10 am and adjourned at 10:15 pm. They got through over 70 amendments, though several of those were not offered. Sources report there are around 175 total amendments.

Most of the day was normal, with the bulk of amendments falling on or near caucus lines. A few did pass. One, offered by Representative Mike Cronk (Tok/Northway), added $300,000 to the Arctic Winter Games.

Another, offered by Representative Craig Johnson (R – Anchorage), was intent language that says the Legislature intends “that the Municipality of Anchorage declare the area within a 200-yard radius of the shelter to be a drug-free zone.” The House Finance Committee previously approved $4 million for the new shelter in Anchorage. Representative David Eastman (R – Wasilla) quipped that if that’s all it takes why don’t we just make the whole state a drug-free zone.

Two minority amendments also passed. One, offered by Representative Jennie Armstrong (D – Anchorage), added $479,000 for the school lunch program and reduced the Department of Corrections budget by the same amount. The other, offered by Representative Andi Story (D – Juneau), added $8.9 million to help with K-3 reading.

Things only got weird at one point, late in the evening. And it was really weird. Representative Ben Carpenter (R – Nikiski) offered several amendments that reduced funding for the University of Alaska. But when Carpenter was talking he was oddly specific in his distaste for Fairbanks. All of Carpenter’s amendments failed, but his language about Fairbanks activated Representative Will Stapp (R – Fairbanks), one of Carpenter’s fellow majority members.

Stapp was visibly agitated at Carpenter’s remarks. One source told the Landmine that Stapp has a “nuclear bomb” amendment targeting Nikiski, where Carpenter lives. If this plays out tomorrow we could see a big regional fight play out on the House floor between majority members.

It’s unlikely, though possible, the House will finish budget amendments tomorrow. This depends on how fast they can get through the amendments and how many end up not being offered. The more likely scenario is they finish amendments on Thursday.

The House and Senate have a deal to exchange budgets on Friday. If the House majority can get the minority to help them, they could pass the budget the same day they finish amendments. But that requires three-fourths of the House, or 30 votes. And with no rule that their members vote for the final budget, the majority may struggle to garner the 21 votes needed to pass the budget if the minority fails to help them.

Meanwhile the Senate Finance Committee has the capital budget scheduled for a hearing tomorrow afternoon. The Senate majority has the numbers to move things quickly, but unless they pass it out of committee tomorrow, passing the capital budget by Friday will be tough. It’s more likely the budgets will be exchanged next week.

Stay tuned for more Landmine coverage of the budget process tomorrow. Be sure to follow the Landmine on X (Twitter) for real time updates.

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1 month ago

Let’s just relax for a moment. Biden has a plan

1 month ago

A follow up on this article would be nice.