Final hours of regular session and a Special Session

Legislators taking pictures of the first circulated copy of the Governor's Special session proclamation

Significant legislation:

  •  $86.7 million for forward funding education through 2014.

  • The total funding to end domestic violence and sexual assault is $11.8 million including prevention and intervention, support for survivors, and law enforcement.
  • 15 more VPSO positions funded. Strengthening penalties for criminals who target some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens was passed by the Legislature. The bill protects these Alaskans from financial exploitation and abuse. The state will begin a four-year veterans outreach program. State officials will visit villages throughout the state to make sure veterans receive the benefits they have earned.
  •  More than $1 billion was approved for highways, aviation, marine highway, harbors, village safe water, and municipal water and sewer projects. Also approved was $453.5 million in general obligation bonds for statewide transportation projects subject to voter approval in November.
  • The funding allows continuing work on a road to Umiat, the Ambler District Road, a road to Tanana, and improvements on the Klondike Industrial Use Highway to Skagway.
  •  The governor’s budget also includes $60 million for construction of a second Alaska Marine Highway System ferry.
  •  Energy plan which includes $31.5 million for weatherization programs to help Alaskans make their homes more energy efficient; $25.9 million for the Renewable Energy Fund targeting projects in areas with the highest energy costs; $38.2 million to fully fund the Power Cost Equalization Program; $20 million for home energy rebates, and an estimated $48 million for the Alaska Low-Income Energy Assistance Program.
  • Digital mapping in the Arctic. The state will use the money to acquire elevation data as a base for infrastructure development that greatly enhances economic opportunities and the preservation of human life in disaster prevention, response, and recovery.
  •  Governor Parnell sponsored legislation to foster more economic development in Alaska with a federal tax credit program called New Market Tax Credits. The legislation will promote new investment in rural Alaska for the financing and construction of a wide variety of projects.
  •  The Legislature approved $25 million for tourism marketing to continue efforts to grow Alaska’s tourist population

The end of the session was probably the most interesting part of the ninety days. Bills changed by the hour, sometimes sponsors knew, sometimes they didn’t. Items were dropped and brought up again. Session lasted until 12:39am April 16, 2012. Then minutes after end of session celebration started the governor’s proclamation of special session started circulating and dampen the mood. Pat Forgey was trying to get interviews as legislators were finally relaxing and debriefing amongst themselves. Then special session brought out a whole new dynamic between the house, senate and governor. Mud flinging and bad behavior was spread quickly.  Three items were called back to the table: sex trafficking, in-state natural gas pipeline and oil and gas tax reform.  Sex trafficking was the only one to pass. Controversy over the governor pulling legislation created an early end to special session, sine die.  All in all it was one of the more interesting years to follow the political process.  Well let’s face it, it’s never really boring. Signing out until next session, hopefully…  hope you’re rooting for us! Cheers.

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