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Gov. Dunleavy’s attorney general files lawsuit against Legislature over looming shutdown

Today, Governor Mike Dunleavy’s (R – Alaska) Attorney General Treg Taylor sued Legislative Affairs Agency (LAA) regarding a looming government shutdown. Below is how the lawsuit appears on Alaska Court View.

This lawsuit is the result of legislative wrangling and a dispute between the Governor and the LAA regarding the meaning of Article II, Section 18 of the Alaska Constitution. Because the House failed to garner the votes of 2/3 of the representatives to make the effective date of the budget immediate upon the Governor signing it, Dunleavy stated the government will shutdown on July 1 because the just-passed budget will not become effective until mid-September at the earliest.

If the Legislature is able to garner a new vote of 2/3 of both chambers, that can be avoided. The Alaska Constitution clearly states bills signed into law are effective 90 days after being signed unless 2/3 of both bodies vote for a different effective date (the Senate passed the 2/3 effective date, the House did not). On Friday, the Legislative Affairs Agency sent a letter to legislators and staff stating they would not be sending layoff notices because, they say, if Dunleavy signs the budget they do not feel a shutdown is necessary. As of today the budget has not been transmitted to Dunleavy.

On June 18, Dunleavy sent a letter to Chief Justice Joel Bolger regarding the matter. Bolger responded to Dunleavy and said he could not participate in ex parte communication. Bolger also sent Dunleavy’s letter and his response to Senate President Peter Micciche (R – Soldotna) and House Speaker Louise Stutes.

You can find the relevant legal documents for the lawsuit from the Department of Law here:

Summons and Complaint

Motion for Summary Judgment with Exhibits 1-5

Motion for Expedited Consideration with 2 Affidavits

One issue that may arise is Article 3, Section 16 of the Alaska Constitution. The last sentence states, “This authority shall not be construed to authorize any action or proceeding against the legislature.”

This is a developing story.

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