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Legislative session appears certain to go on past Sunday's 90-day deadline

Budget deadlock meant slow progress

Posted: April 16, 2011 - 9:43pm

With a midnight Sunday deadline for the Legislature to complete its work, a budget deadlock meant that little progress towards adjournment was made Saturday.

Given statutory requirements for bill passage, the Legislature is now certain to exceed the 90-day session limit.

“It’s not going to be easy, and its not going to be early,” said Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau.

Legislative work Saturday did not appeared to be aimed at reaching a Sunday conclusion to business.

The Senate on Saturday adjourned for the day before 6 p.m., the House gaveled out a few minutes before 9 p.m., following passage of a resolution thanking House pages and floor staff for their work during the session.

“I really don’t know when we’re going to adjourn,” said Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau.

The crucial capital budget, which the Senate didn’t make public until last Monday. still hasn’t moved from the Senate Finance Committee.

The House, meanwhile, moved the main budget it controls, the operating budget, out of the House in mid-March.

Muñoz said the budget was the main hang-up.

“We still do not have agreement on the budget, there still are two or three items of contention,” Muñoz said.

Among the issues legislators are exploring are how to extend the session. They might just ignore the 90-day limit, as they did last year, and continue work.

The 90-day session is in statute, but the Alaska Constitution calls for a 120-day session.

Muñoz said the House might adjourn, and then return after three days if the Senate did not adjourn.

“It’s just hard to tell right now what’s going to happen,” Kerttula said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 586-4816 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.

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