The first session of the 26th Alaska State Legislature came to a non-controversial end Sunday evening. The spotlight ended up shining on Dennis Egan who was accepted by Senate Democrats and sworn in as Juneau’s newest Senator which put an end to that controversy.
The session ended with the House and Senate passing a grand total of 52 pieces of legislation; 37 sponsored by the House and 15 sponsored by the Senate. Although it is likely this is one of the lowest numbers of bills passed in recent history, I don’t believe this is a bad thing. The focus this session was on the operating and capital budgets, particularly in light of falling oil prices this past year, sorting out the federal stimulus funding and whether or not strings were attached and several pieces of legislation that were considered major reforms; combining all the electrical utilities, energy, in-state gas, parental consent for abortions, capital punishment and health care. I suspect a number of these issues are going to be addressed during the interim and I will try and keep you posted on dates, places and times meetings occur as the information becomes available.
I had two personal pieces of legislation pass this session: House Bill 93 which places cell phone numbers in state statute for those who do not wish to receive telemarketing calls and House Bill 170 which repealed state statute for day fines which were never implemented by the courts.
I wish to acknowledge the great working relationship the House had with the Senate this session. Senate President Gary Stevens and I worked very closely together and although there were a few minor bumps between the two bodies along the way, we were able to avoid the in-fighting that sometimes happens. I am looking forward to working with them during this interim and next session.
My biggest disappointment was the lack of work that was done on in-state gas. I managed to get House Bill 44 through the House but it died in the late hours in Senate Resources. The ability of ANGDA to start bonding and broaden their authority for seeking in-state gas routes and solutions would have been a major accomplishment. I will not be satisfied until pipe is purchased and work begins. We did appropriate over $7 million to the governor’s office to continue working on an in-state line but she now has to determine how it is going to be used and by what entity.
I am extremely grateful to my colleagues who chose me as Speaker of the House. It is indeed an honor and a challenge but we were able to push our agenda for energy and in-state gas a step closer to reality this session. I look forward to continuing that challenge.
This will be the last post for a couple of weeks. I am now back on the peninsula and look forward to seeing a number of friends and constituents over the summer. If you have concerns or issues you wish to discuss please call my office at 283-7229 or email me at email@example.com.