Capitol Report: Just over a month left in the legislative session

Hello from Juneau. There is a little over a month left in this year’s legislative session and, as always, the Capitol is a busy place. Although many matters need to be resolved before adjournment, including finalizing next year’s budget, the Senate continues to make good progress on our work.

Fiscal Year 2023 budget

The Senate Finance Subcommittees on which I serve, Education and Early Development; Governor; Health and Social Services; and Judiciary, have completed their business. Recommendations of these subcommittees have been sent to the full Senate Finance Committee for consideration as its members debate the FY ’23 operating budget bill (HB 281).

As you may be aware, HB 281’s passage in the House of Representatives was delayed a week due to a recent COVID-19 breakout in the Capitol. The extra wait should not adversely impact the Senate Finance Committee’s deliberations on the bill, and it should advance to a Senate floor vote in the very near future.

Eventually, differences between the Senate and House version of the budget will be resolved by a conference comprised of three members from each body. A final vote on the legislature’s budget will occur at the end of session. It will then be submitted to the governor for consideration.

SB 34 passes the Senate

On Monday, April 4, the Senate passed SB 34. This legislation is designed to give tribes an opportunity to operate public schools through education compacts with the state. Passage of SB 34 would be an initial step in the process of developing these compacts.

SB 34 has been referred to the House Special Committee on Tribal Affairs for further consideration. It has an additional referral to the House Education Committee. The bill has strong support in both legislative bodies, and I believe it will pass the House this year.

SB 33 makes more progress

On Monday, April 4, the House Finance Committee passed SB 33. The bill aims to continue the state’s salmon and herring product development tax credit while also adding similar tax credits for value-added processing in the pollock and cod industries.

In 2003, I sponsored the original legislation creating the Alaska Salmon Product Development Tax Credit. The program has been credited as being a major reason for the increase in the commercial value of Alaska salmon over the years.

SB 33 has been well-supported throughout the legislative process. I expect this will continue when the bill advances to a House floor vote.

Congressional Special Primary Election

The names of 48 candidates will appear on the ballot for the Special Primary Election for Alaska’s seat in the United States House of Representatives. This election is an open, non-partisan primary where the top four candidates advance to a special election on August 16. The new ranked choice voting system will not be used in the primary but will be utilized in the August special election.

The important dates for the Special Primary Election are:

  • Wednesday, April 27, primary election ballots mailed to voters.
  • Friday, May 27, early and absentee in-person voting begins.
  • Saturday, June 11, election day (absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before June 11).
  • Tuesday, June 21, deadline to receive absentee ballots.

The Alaska Division of Elections has more information on the special primary election, including sample ballots for your House District at elections.alaska.gov.

Kodiak school honored

Congratulations to Kodiak’s Peterson Elementary School. Located on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Kodiak base, Peterson is one of 20 schools around the state receiving recognition as part of the first group of Purple Star Schools. This program honors schools going above and beyond the call of duty to help military-connected students and their families make a successful transition to their new school after a Permanent Change of Station.

The Legislature on TV and online

Following the legislature during the legislature’s final weeks is made easier by public television’s Gavel Alaska. The service broadcasts live and recorded coverage of floor sessions and committee hearings. It is also available at 360north.org.

You can also access live committee hearings online at AlaskaLegislature.tv. This service is provided by the legislature.

You can get information on any bills and resolutions introduced during the 32nd Alaska Legislature through the Bill Action and Status Inquiry System (BASIS) at akleg.gov/basis/Home/BillsandLaws.

Keep in touch

Please let me know your thoughts on the many matters coming before the legislature.

  • Send me emails at: Sen.Gary.Stevens@akleg.gov
  • My Capitol phone numbers are 1-800-821-4925 or 907-465-4925.

As always, thank you to Senate District P’s media for helping me share this information with you, and to you for reading the Capitol Report.