(Juneau) - House Majority Caucus leadership held a "Special Session: Day 10" press availability this morning to refocus the public eye on the issues that the caucus feels have led to the impasse before the Legislature and governor.
We're now waiting for the Senate to budge on important issues like Coastal Zone Management and the Capital Budget. I have never seen a process unfold like this during my time in the legislature and we have not accepted the Senate's proposals that would, in effect, have the House cede control over our process.
~ Rep. Alan Austerman
"The public needs to know that we're here and ready to work. The issue in the stalemate isn't oil taxes, because that bill [HB 110] isn't on the special session call," House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, said. "We're here today because the House said we do not agree with the conduct or process being undertaken by the Senate. We are not a unicameral legislature and we will not bend; the Senate is not fulfilling their end of the legislative process in passing a capital budget bill to the House so we can do our due diligence and conduct our own public review." Chenault says the regular process if both sides fail to agree to a bill is through a conference committee.
House leadership reiterated that the House has already taken care of five of the ten items on Governor Sean Parnell's special session proclamation, passing those items in the first three days of the session. "We're now waiting for the Senate to budge on important issues like Coastal Zone Management and the Capital Budget," House Majority Leader Alan Austerman, R-Kodiak, said. "I have never seen a process unfold like this during my time in the legislature and we have not accepted the Senate's proposals that would, in effect, have the House cede control over our process."
The House has met for floor sessions nine out of 10 special session days, and the House Finance Committee has noticed hearings on the Capital Budget each day. The House cannot fulfill the remaining items listed on Governor Sean Parnell's special session call because they remain in the Senate Finance Committee. Those items include the extension to the Alaska Coastal Management Program (HB 106,) Alaska Performance Scholarships (HB 104,) and the Operating and Capital budgets.
The House has already passed five items from the special session proclamation, including extensions for the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (HB 24) and the omnibus board extension bill (HB 126,) the FY11 Supplemental Budget (SB 76,) allowing the Alaska Energy Authority to advance Susitna Hydro (SB 42,) and the FY11 Supplemental budget (SB 76.)
"We are at the point now with the Senate where we are being asked to swallow a poison pill; valuable and successful energy programs are being held hostage," Speaker Chenault said. House leaders yesterday proposed to amend the Senate Finance Committee's all-or-nothing language in the Capital Budget to carve out the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation's Home Weatherization and Home Energy Rebate programs, and the Alaska Energy Authority's Round Four Renewable Energy Grant Fund projects.
Caucus leadership made the offer yesterday during a joint House-Senate leadership meeting. They have yet to hear of the Senate's decision. Funds to allow the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation continue to work on a development plan for an in-state natural gas pipeline were also asked to be moved from the contingency package.