Juneau, AK- (KINY)The Alaska State Senate adjourned it's special session Friday night, some say prematurely. The lawmakers now face criticism from their own colleagues and the Governor that the lawmakers did not do their job during the session that started October 23rd. Governor Walker issued a statement Friday evening critical of the legislature's work during the special session.
The special session was called to address criminal justice issues and the state's dire financial situation. Governor Walker had endorsed Senate Bill 54, which makes changes to parts of the previously passed and controversial Senate Bill 91. However, Senate Bill 54 acquired an amended section lawmakers were warned by their own advisors is unconstitutional because the punishment range for a first time C felony is the same as for the more serious B felony. Lawmakers could have resolved the issue in a conference committee next week but chose to adjourn instead making it problematic for the Governor to sign Senate Bill 54 into law because he would inviting legal challenges. Governor Walker wrote he remains committed to working with the House and Senate over concerns about public safety.
The Governor was not as gentle on the topic of addressing Alaska's fiscal crisis. Walker notes elected officials are ignoring multiple downgrades from credit agencies and warnings from Alaska's own economists that the situation is urgent. Walker also notes that by passing Senate Bill 54 and not taking up the Governor's wage tax plan, there isn't the funding to support the policy decisions made in the amended version of Senate Bill 54. The Governor accused the Legislature of three years of inaction when it comes to Alaska's finances.