5 things to know about the Alaska Legislature
JUNEAU (AP) — The Alaska Legislature is opening a new session, with leadership changes in the Senate and a slate of weighty issues to consider.
Here are five things to know about the session that opens Tuesday:
—MORE OIL: Oil taxes or ways to get more oil flowing through the trans-Alaska pipeline figure to be the dominant issue as lawmakers also tackle energy concerns, education spending and how much to spend or save. Gov. Sean Parnell plans to introduce legislation aimed at changing Alaska's oil tax system. The Republican governor, who failed in his prior attempts to roll-back taxes, will have Republicans in charge of the House and Senate this time, though the new Senate leaders have promised they won't merely rubber-stamp anything he sends their way.
—NEW COMMITTEES: The Senate is creating new committees to delve into energy and oil issues. The goal is for those committees to do a lot of the legwork so the Senate Resources and Finance committees won't be bogged down and can spend time on other issues such as those related to fisheries.
—SUPERMAJORITY: The GOP-led caucus in the House has a supermajority now, thanks to the recent decision by Rep. Lindsey Holmes of Anchorage to switch parties, from Democrat to Republican. Thirty of the 40 House members caucus with the Republicans, including four Democrats.
—THREE-PEAT: Mike Chenault is the first House speaker in Alaska to be elected to serve three consecutive terms. Chenault, R-Nikiski, says his caucus is large and diverse, like Alaska. He says sometimes he agrees with members, and other times he doesn't, but it's important to always listen to them.
—BAD OMEN?: Since the Legislature went to a 90-day session format in 2008, there has been at least one special session every year except 2010.