Senate president aims to finish session in Juneau

The Legislature didn’t take any actions Monday as it began the second week after the scheduled end of the session. But Senate President Kevin Meyer said he’d like to see the Legislature complete its work soon.

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Senate President Kevin Meyer, Jan. 26, 2015. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
Senate President Kevin Meyer, Jan. 26, 2015. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

“In my mind … as longer as we’re making progress, let’s just keep working,” Meyer said. 

The biggest stumbling block for completing the session is finding agreement on changes to oil and gas taxes. Legislators also are considering major reforms to the state’s criminal justice and sentencing system. Lawmakers must finish work on the state budget. And they’re weighing whether to draw money from Permanent Fund earnings to help pay for it. This could lead to a cut in the size of Permanent Fund dividends.

Meyer said the Senate will be ready to act on the budget and Permanent Fund bills once the House finishes its work on oil and gas tax credits.

It’s not clear how long the Legislature will remain in Juneau. Construction work has begun on the Capitol building.

The session was scheduled to end on April 17. Under the Constitution, the regular session can go until May 18. A special session could be held on the road system, but Meyer would like to see the Legislature finish in Juneau.

“Progress isn’t going as quickly as we’d hoped in the House,” Meyer said. “It’s my desire, and I think most of us in the Senate, is that since we’re in regular session, sessions are held in Juneau.”

Meyer and other legislators and staff members planned to visit different sites around Juneau to see if they could host the Legislature while the Capitol building is under construction. The construction is scheduled to intensify next week.

Centennial Hall Convention Center and the Bill Ray Center office building are potential sites for Legislative activities.

The House Finance Committee is planning to consider amendments to the criminal justice and sentencing bill Tuesday.

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at

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