Alaska Legislature challenges governor, calling for second special session in Juneau, Anchorage

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Leadership in the Alaska Legislature has rejected a decision by Gov. Mike Dunleavy to hold a second special session in Wasilla, instead calling for sessions to be held in Juneau and Anchorage.

A joint statement from Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, stated that lawmakers should debate the FY2020 capital budget as well as the Permanent Fund dividend.

Giessel and Edgmon write that around $1 billion federal matching funds are at risk by not passing a capital budget.

“For the reasons outlined, we believe the Legislature should call itself into session,” read the statement. “We intend to hold floor sessions in Juneau, the seat of government established in the Alaska Constitution, and hold most committee hearings in the Anchorage Legislative Information Office.”

The statement from Giessel and Edgmon said that leadership in the Legislature was one vote shy of the 40 votes required to change the call of the special session.

Earlier in the day, the Matanuska-Susitna delegation sent a statement out welcoming lawmakers to the Valley for a special session at Wasilla Middle School.

“Although a number of Alaskans are frustrated with the challenges our state faces and discussions regarding the PFD, it’s important to point out that the Valley has a proud history of civil and respectful public gatherings, including large legislative town halls,” read the statement.

The governor took a stronger tone in his response to the action, saying it has no legal basis.

"This move to negate the special session in Wasilla has no legal basis," the governor wrote in a release. "A governor is clearly empowered to call a special session in a location of their choosing," he continued, citing state statute. "The Senate President and Speaker of the House admit they lack the votes to change the venue or call a special session of their own, yet they are committed to thwarting the law and the voice of the Alaskan people."

House Republicans echoed the governor and said that the decision by Giessel and Edgmon was an attempt hide away in Juneau.

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