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Capitol quiets as legislators head to D.C.

Legislature taking annual break this week

Posted: March 7, 2013 - 12:10am  |  Updated: March 7, 2013 - 1:24am

Legislators and Capitol staffers sprinting through the 90-day legislative session are taking their annual breather this week as the Energy Council meeting in Washington, D.C., begins Thursday.

On Wednesday, the “spring break” atmosphere was already in evidence, as the Senate gaveled in for a nine-minute technical session before adjourning without so much as a bill introduced or a floor speech made.

“I did exactly what (Senate President) Charlie Huggins did today,” Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, said. “As soon as the technical session was over, the tie went off, his tie went off, I went home, changed my clothes and Charlie’s out enjoying the sunshine.”

While many legislators are traveling to the East Coast for the Energy Council’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., which brings together lawmakers from energy-producing states and provinces, and many others are returning to their home districts or leaving Juneau on other business, work is continuing through the break.

No committee meetings are scheduled for Thursday or Friday, according to the Alaska State Legislature’s website, but Fairbanks Republican Sen. Pete Kelly, who co-chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said he and other Finance senators will be spending their time in Juneau studying their “options” on Gov. Sean Parnell’s oil production tax reform proposal.

“We want some options for the committee to consider,” said Kelly. “I think the conversations have been that we just, we need to make sure that we’ve got maybe an ‘Option A’ and an ‘Option B.’ It’s such a big issue.”

Kelly’s committee is the third and final Senate committee set to hear Senate Bill 21. The Senate Resources Committee, which passed it along to the Finance Committee last week, rewrote the bill as a "committee substitute" based on Parnell's original proposal.

One bill that has attracted considerable attention in Interior Alaska was moved out of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 23, which would provide funding for liquefied natural gas plant on the North Slope and infrastructure to allow trucking of LNG to the Fairbanks North Star Borough, was moved to the full Senate for consideration.

“I kind of anticipated that we work on that through the week, but we were able to move that out this morning,” Kelly said. “It was taking up a lot of our time.”

Meanwhile, Egan — who does not have a seat on the Finance Committee, but sits on the Finance subcommittee on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game budget — said he will be using his time off to “catch up” on his Senate Transportation Committee work, as well as on the Fish and Game subcommittee.

The Energy Council meeting, which is being chaired by Sitka Republican Sen. Bert Stedman, will extend into the weekend. After that, the Legislature will return to its usual business on Monday.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 586-1821 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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