Alaska Senate passes first legislation of new session
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Wednesday, February 3rd, the Alaska State Senate unanimously passed its first resolution of the 32nd Legislative Session.
The resolution in question, Senate Concurrent Resolution Number 1 (SCR 1), involves members of the legislature being allowed to attend sessions remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SCR 1 authorizes presiding officers to allow members of the legislature to attend sessions by videoconference. It does so by suspending Rule 24(a) and 34(c) of the Uniform Rules of the Alaska State Legislature.
Under the resolution, legislators attending by videoconference must, unless otherwise authorized, by present in a Legislative Information Office or the member’s own legislative office. If connection issues make videoconference infeasible, teleconference may be substituted at the presiding officer’s discretion.
In a press conference, Senate President Peter Micciche thanked his fellow senators for “a great session.”
Micciche, a Republican representing Soldotna, explained, “We don’t know what happens with the pandemic, but we wanted to be able to do the people’s business if things turn the wrong way, and we certainly don’t expect them to, but we moved quickly.”
Micciche went on to say, “I liked how it flowed. I liked our ability to have that discussion. I liked the ability that we worked together with the minority on something that’s not a partisan issue. Being able to move forward collectively is not a partisan issue, and I hope that that’s the spirit we see all year long.”
Democratic Senator Scott Kawasaki of Fairbanks called the resolution a great move forward because “we just don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Hopefully we won’t need to use this, and the legislators here will be able to do their work. But in the case where somebody might get sick, somebody might be unable to attend a meeting in person, and a person who might be infected, we don’t want that person to infect the rest of the legislative body.”
Kawasaki explained that he wants to make sure that this is a temporary situation. “We want to move past COVID-19. Now isn’t the time to be able to do that, so we wanted to make sure that we had some measures in place that would allow us to do this, but at the same time ensure that we go back to a normal situation where we are voting in-person, at a table, seeing each other eye to eye.”
The legislation passed 19-0 in the Senate after several amendments were heard. The resolution will next travel to the Alaska House of Representatives, which has yet to organize pending the establishment of a majority.
The full text of the resolution can be found here.
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