June 12, 2015 •

Alaska State Legislature Passes Budget and Adjourns Special Session

The Alaska State Legislature adjourned its second special session on Thursday, June 11, 2015. It took both houses nearly two months to reach an agreement on budget terms, pushing negotiations to within three weeks of a potential government shutdown set […]

AlaskaThe Alaska State Legislature adjourned its second special session on Thursday, June 11, 2015.

It took both houses nearly two months to reach an agreement on budget terms, pushing negotiations to within three weeks of a potential government shutdown set to start July 1.

The $5 billion budget preserves scheduled pay raises for public employees while reducing state agency spending by $400 million to help close the deficit.

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April 28, 2015 •

Alaska Governor Calls for Special Session Immediately Following Adjournment

The first session of the 29th Alaska State Legislature adjourned on Monday, April 27 after a week of frustrating budget negotiations. A deal was passed to fund the government through the fall. Following adjournment, Gov. Bill Walker immediately called a […]

Alaska_House_of_RepresentativesThe first session of the 29th Alaska State Legislature adjourned on Monday, April 27 after a week of frustrating budget negotiations. A deal was passed to fund the government through the fall.

Following adjournment, Gov. Bill Walker immediately called a special session; the session began today at 10:00 a.m.

Walker is not willing to accept a budget if it does not cover the full year. He ordered the special session to allow legislators an opportunity to discuss a fully funded state budget and consider pending legislation for Erin’s Law as well as Medicaid reform and expansion.

Photo of the Alaska State House of Representatives chamber by L’Aquatique on Wikimedia Commons.

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April 17, 2015 •

Alaska Governor May Consider Special Legislative Session

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker hinted at a possible special session if the Legislature does not act on Medicaid expansion before the session’s scheduled end on Sunday. Walker considers expansion necessary while many legislators have concerns about adding thousands of people […]

Alaska State Capitol BuildingAlaska Gov. Bill Walker hinted at a possible special session if the Legislature does not act on Medicaid expansion before the session’s scheduled end on Sunday.

Walker considers expansion necessary while many legislators have concerns about adding thousands of people to what some consider an already broken system.

If legislators run out of time without addressing the issue, Walker said he plans to simply put more time on the clock.

Photo of the Alaska State Capitol by Jay Galvin on Wikimedia Commons.

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January 28, 2015 •

U.S. Statehouse Series – Alaska, Land of the Midnight Sun

Today we will be visiting the Alaska capitol and learning about its history. The first Alaska statehouse was located in Elks Lodge Hall in Juneau, the current capital. Legislators started meeting there in 1913 after Alaska became a territory of […]

Alaska State Capitol BuildingToday we will be visiting the Alaska capitol and learning about its history.

The first Alaska statehouse was located in Elks Lodge Hall in Juneau, the current capital. Legislators started meeting there in 1913 after Alaska became a territory of the United States. Juneau was chosen as the capital over much debate. The cities of Sitka and Anchorage were favored by those in south-central, western, and interior Alaska because Juneau was difficult to access in the winter. However, Juneau had superior communication with the federal government and was an established mining town.

It took another 18 years after the choosing of Juneau for a statehouse to be built. The federal government was short on funds because of World War I, but the people of Juneau raised the rest of the amount in time for the statehouse to be completed in 1931.

The statehouse sits on almost 5 acres in Juneau near the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It was built in Art Deco style. The main material in the building is limestone from Prince of Wales Island in the southeastern part of the state. There is a replica of the Liberty Bell in the front of the building. In fact, every state was given one in 1950 in a campaign to promote federal savings bonds. The lobby has carvings depicting the abundance of natural resources, a crucial source of economic stability for Alaska.

There are designs in the works for a new statehouse. It will have an egg-shaped dome and a number of public spaces to encourage visitors. The new statehouse will be more environmentally friendly and inclusive of Alaskan motifs, such as the use of local stone and wood. It will even be constructed to preserve the views from other buildings. You can take a video tour of the Capital Building with Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell in this video.

Thanks for joining us once again on yet another statehouse tour.

Photo of the Alaska State Capitol by Jay Galvin on Wikimedia Commons.

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November 21, 2014 •

Alaska Governor-Elect Walker to be Sworn In on December 1

On December 1, 2014 Bill Walker will be sworn in as Alaska’s governor. If you are planning involvement in inaugural events, be aware of the gift and campaign finance laws. Lobbyists and non-lobbyists may provide legislators with tickets or contributions […]

AlaskaOn December 1, 2014 Bill Walker will be sworn in as Alaska’s governor. If you are planning involvement in inaugural events, be aware of the gift and campaign finance laws.

Lobbyists and non-lobbyists may provide legislators with tickets or contributions to a preapproved charity event with an annual aggregate value of less than $250.

Executive branch officials are prohibited from accepting gifts that may improperly influence the official. A gift from a lobbyist to a public official or to an immediate family member is presumed to be intended to influence the performance of official duties unless the giver is an immediate family member of the person receiving the gift. Occasional gifts of $50 or less from a non-lobbyist are presumed not to improperly influence.

Corporate contributions are prohibited in Alaska. Additionally, candidates are unable to use campaign funds for inaugural expenses until they receive an opinion from APOC designating inaugural activities as reasonably related to their political campaign. Use caution if asked to make contributions for inaugural events.

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September 26, 2014 •

Administrator of Alaska Legislative Ethics Committee Resigns

Reggie Drummond, administrator of the Alaska Legislature’s Select Committee on Legislative Ethics, resigned effective September 15. He claims he simply did not enjoy the job and was not a good fit. The ethics committee advises legislators on ethical matters and […]

AlaskaReggie Drummond, administrator of the Alaska Legislature’s Select Committee on Legislative Ethics, resigned effective September 15. He claims he simply did not enjoy the job and was not a good fit.

The ethics committee advises legislators on ethical matters and has the authority to issue penalties for ethics violations. Although the committee is charged with overseeing compliance with ethical standards, many of the ethics rules remain subject to interpretation. Drummond was not comfortable interpreting a limited statute and admits he failed to read the statute prior to accepting the position in June.

Joyce Anderson, who served as the committee’s administrator for 13 years before retiring earlier this year, has been named acting committee administrator.

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June 26, 2014 •

New Administrator for Alaska Legislative Ethics Committee

The Select Committee on Legislative Ethics hired a new administrator to succeed Joyce Anderson. Anderson is retiring July 11 after 13 years in the position. Reginald Drummond, her successor, begins his new job June 30. The two will work together […]

AlaskaThe Select Committee on Legislative Ethics hired a new administrator to succeed Joyce Anderson. Anderson is retiring July 11 after 13 years in the position.

Reginald Drummond, her successor, begins his new job June 30. The two will work together for several weeks during the transition.

Drummond is currently an assistant inspector general in the U.S. Army and is retiring from the military.

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April 28, 2014 •

Alaska Legislature Adjourns Sine Die

The 28th Alaska State Legislature adjourned an extended session sine die on Friday, April 25. Originally set to adjourn April 20, both the House and Senate remained in session until compromising on a major education reform bill and a controversial […]

Alaska

The 28th Alaska State Legislature adjourned an extended session sine die on Friday, April 25.

Originally set to adjourn April 20, both the House and Senate remained in session until compromising on a major education reform bill and a controversial bridge bill.

 

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February 28, 2014 •

Changes to Alaska Procurement Code Effective Today

SB12, signed into law September 2013, goes into effect today. The bill amends the state procurement code and makes changes to procurement preferences, contract awards, small purchase procedures and thresholds, minimum competition requirements, methods of bid submission, vendor registration requirements, […]

Alaska

SB12, signed into law September 2013, goes into effect today. The bill amends the state procurement code and makes changes to procurement preferences, contract awards, small purchase procedures and thresholds, minimum competition requirements, methods of bid submission, vendor registration requirements, and applicable definitions.

Vendors may contact Chief Procurement Officer Jason Soza with any questions concerning the bill. Additionally, a summary of all changes can be found on the Department of General Services website.

 

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April 15, 2013 •

Alaska Legislature Passes Elections Bill Before Adjourning

House Bill 104 To Change Primary Dates

AlaskaLawmakers adjourned the first session of the 28th Legislature on April 14, 2013. Before adjourning, lawmakers passed an elections bill to better comply with a federal law requiring absentee military voters to receive ballots 45 days before a federal election.

House Bill 104 moves the date of the primary election from the fourth Tuesday in August to the third Tuesday in August of every even-numbered year. The bill also proposes a special runoff election following a special election to fill the vacancy of a U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative if no candidate in the special election receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

In addition, the bill allows a person requesting an opinion from the Alaska Public Offices Commission to keep the name of the requestor confidential.

The effective date of the bill is January 1, 2014.

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July 12, 2012 •

Alaska Legislative Ethics Committee Approves Issue Pledging for Endorsements

Pledging in return for campaign contributions would violate the Legislative Ethics Act

AlaskaThe Alaska Legislative Ethics Committee has issued an advisory opinion allowing incumbent legislators to sign pre-election pledges during re-election campaigns.

So long as the pledge is in exchange only for an endorsement or a promise of an endorsement it does not violate the Legislative Ethics Act. However, the committee also determined the signing of pre-election pledges in a quid pro quo exchange for a campaign contribution or a promise of a campaign contribution would violate the act.

Special interest groups often request candidates to take positions on certain topics by signing a pledge.

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June 11, 2012 •

Alaska Advisory Opinion Removes Cap for Independent Expenditure Group

APOC acknowledges Citizens United may nullify Alaska campaign laws

AlaskaThe Alaska Public Offices Commission has issued an opinion allowing a new independent group, Alaska Deserves Better (ADB), to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in this year’s elections. Although the commission’s director said the advisory opinion is specific to ADB and the way it plans to operate, the decision seems to be relevant for other independent committees.

Under current state law, groups such as ADB may receive, each year, contributions of no more than $500 from an individual and $1,000 from a different group. Additionally, groups may not receive contributions from an individual who is not a resident of the state, or from a foreign national.

With the exception of the foreign national restriction, the opinion acknowledges laws prohibiting independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions are likely unconstitutional in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. As a result, ADB, an independent expenditure group, can obtain contributions in unlimited amounts, with no restriction on the amounts or sources.

The commission acknowledges that without a ruling from a court or a change in legislation, there will not be clarity in the state’s campaign contribution law.

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May 9, 2012 •

Today’s Redistricting News Roundup

We have news on redistricting issues from four states:

The GerryManderAlaska:  “High court to hear redistricting petition” by The Associated Press in The Anchorage Daily News.

Kansas: “GOP redistricting fight could mean courts make final decision” by John Hanna (Associated Press) in the Lawrence Journal World.

North Carolina: “Redistricting sets stage for fall elections” by Emery Dalesio (Associated Press) in the Winston-Salem Journal.

Washington:  “Supreme Court upholds state redistricting plan” by Warren Kagarise in the Issaquah Press.

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May 2, 2012 •

Here is the Latest Redistricting News

Today we have items from eight states:

U.S. Congressional DistrictsAlaska: “Redistricting map solutions elusive as court battle looms” by Richard Mauer in the Anchorage Daily News.

Kansas: “Kansas Senate OKs redistricting plan” by Brad Cooper in the Kansas City Star.

Kentucky: “Kentucky Supreme Court cites redistricting law as unconstitutional” by Franklin Clark in the Cadiz Record.

Mississippi: “Mississippi Senate unveils its redistricting map” by The Associated Press in the Clarion Ledger.

New Hampshire: “House redistricting plan faces more legal challenges” by Garry Rayno in the Union Leader.

Pennsylvania: “Redistricting panel to receive input on new Pa. maps” by Ali Lanyon (Associated Press) on WHTM.

South Carolina: “Supreme Court considering fate of primary candidates” by Gina Smith in The State.

South Carolina: “SC justices consider fate of dozens of candidates” by Jeffrey Collins (Associated Press) in the Spartanburg Herald Journal.

Vermont: “Vt. lawmakers finish redistricting” on NECN.com.

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