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We Build Alaska

The Sunday Minefield – June 9, 2024

Summer is in full swing. Now that the June 1 filing deadline has passed and with more than two and a half months to the primary, there’s been a bit of a lull in Alaska politics. The budget was transmitted to Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) by the Legislature this week. And Anchorage mayoral-elect Suzanne LaFrance’s transition is preparing for her July 1 swearing in.

A friendly message and reminder to all our readers. The Landmine is made possible by myself and a team of awesome Alaskans. I recently returned from Juneau for my sixth session in a row reporting on the Legislature. We will again be providing in-depth coverage for both the primary and general elections. If you enjoy the content we provide, please consider making a one time or recurring monthly donation. You can click here to donate. We have a donation system that makes it super easy. We would really appreciate it. And thanks to everyone who has been supportive!

Week in Review

First, I am going to be completely honest. I have been pretty checked out this week. I flew down to Vegas last week to play in some poker tournaments and decompress after the end of session madness. While I made it in the money in a few small tournaments, the big cash remains elusive. But I’m sure it will happen someday!

I was joined by Neil Steininger this weekend for a little post session Alaska Political Report retreat. If you are interested in subscribing to the Political Report, click here for more information. We will be providing a ton of in-depth election coverage during this election cycle, plus our normal session coverage next year.

The Legislature transmitted the budget to Governor Dunleavy on Wednesday (6/5/2025). He has 20 days, minus Sundays, to act. That gives him until June 28 to act – two days before the start of the new fiscal year. Even though the budget was just transmitted, it was passed by the Legislature more than three weeks ago. So Dunleavy and his team have had ample time to review the budget and work on vetoes. While he may wait until the June 28 deadline to act, it would not be surprising if it is signed sooner. The big vetoes to watch for are capital projects in the districts of the Republicans who voted to override his veto of Senate Bill 140 – the omnibus education bill.

Sources report that Mayor-elect Suzanne LaFrance will be making an announcement tomorrow regarding some key appointments in her administration. There’s a lot of chatter that some officials from former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s administration will be making a comeback. One name to watch for is Bill Falsey. Will he be making a comeback? Will her former opponent Bill Popp, who endorsed her in the run-off, be getting a job? LaFrance will take office on July 1.

She will have a much better relationship with the Assembly as she is more politically aligned with them and previously served on the Assembly. But the turmoil between the Assembly and Mayor Dave Bronson promoted them to setup many of their own systems. And LaFrance likely knows if she rubber stamps what the Assembly wants she will risk not only looking weak but also possibly losing Assembly seats next April.

Right now the Assembly’s progressive bloc holds nine of the Assembly’s 12 seats, a supermajority. Six seats are up next April. If the progressive bloc loses two seats, they will lose their veto proof majority. If LaFrance and the Assembly take the city to far to the left, the likely reaction will be more conservative candidates winning Assembly seats in April. So LaFrance will have a tough balancing act as mayor.

It will also be worth watching to see what her relationship with Governor Dunleavy will be like. Bronson and Dunleavy are political allies. LaFrance and Dunleavy not so much. Dunleavy and Berkowitz got along and worked with each other during Covid. Will LaFrance be able to forge a good relationship with Dunleavy? Her first 90 days will be telling.

Other Happenings 

The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation announced they reached a gas supply deal with Great Bear (subsidiary of Pantheon) for up to 500MCF per day. That’s a max of 182BCF a year. Southcentral demand is around 70BCF per year. They still need to build a pipeline to get the gas to market. You can read the full release here.

The Anchorage Economic Development Association (AEDC) is holding a press conference on Tuesday on a proposed sales tax initiative to lower property taxes 20% and invest in new capital projects chosen by the voters.

The Resource Development Council (RDC) is holding their annual luncheon on Wednesday at the Dena’ina Center. The featured speaker is Kirk Johnson, Senior Vice President, Global Operations for ConocoPhillips.

ANS crude is down a bit. It was hovering around the mid-$80s to $90 a barrel range for the last several months. The budget balances somewhere around there, so if the price goes down and stays down, a deficit could develop.

A reminder that Twitter is not real life.

This Week’s Loose Unit 

Everyone gets a pass this week! This week’s Loose Unit is me. Coming down to Vegas and checking out of Alaska politics is pretty loose. But doubling down on what caused #Speedogate in 2015 is maximum loose!

If you have a nomination for this week’s Loose Unit, or if you have any political news, stories or gossip (or any old pics of politicians or public officials) please email me at jeff@alaskalandmine.com.

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Brian Webb
5 days ago

You teased us with an Anchorage sales tax….. I’m sure it will not include a reduction in property taxes, but even a child can dream….

Questioner
5 days ago
Reply to  Brian Webb

The proposal supported by AEDC proposes a 3% sales tax (with a cap for high-cost items and a number of important exemptions). Of that 3%, 2% would offset property taxes. That’s fantastic for seniors who want to age in place as their assessments skyrocket, but it will be important for Anchorage residents to ask who has the most to gain from a significant reduction to municipal property taxes – the average Anchorage family or the corporations and investors who own the city’s most valuable commercial, industrial, and large multi-family rental properties? We’re going to hear a great deal about grandmas… Read more »

Mark R.
5 days ago

To bad you missed the poker heyday in Anch when Perry Green held court above his brothers fur shop. Perry was a legit WSP player.

andy
5 days ago

What’s great is “too far to the left” these days means holding the door open for someone or letting your neighbor borrow a cup of sugar.

Some guy
5 days ago

Nice speedo!

Akwhitty
4 days ago
Reply to  Some guy

It’s a hip to hip weenie grip

Sidney Morris
4 days ago

Oh look, it’s the ego in the speedo again 🙄