Every two years, Celebration brings thousands of visitors to Juneau for a week of Alaska Native festivities. This year, Celebration events are on a collision course with the unusual extension of the Alaska Legislature’s work in Juneau.
On Thursday, KTVA-TV’s Liz Raines reported that legislators are considering a move of their ongoing special session to Anchorage because many are being evicted from their hotel rooms by Celebration guests.
“It’s just talk right now,” Senate President Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, told the Empire of the possibility of a move, but confirmed that talk is taking place.
He confirmed the reason for the talk is Celebration.
About 5,000 visitors are expected to visit Juneau during the event that lasts June 8-11. Many have booked hotel rooms long in advance of legislators, none of whom expected to be in Juneau this long.
Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, told Raines that even he is being booted from his hotel room.
As no decisions have yet been made, it is unclear whether Anchorage’s controversial Legislative Information Office building would be home to the special session while Celebration takes place. Meyer said the key period is Tuesday, June 7, through Monday, June 13.
Displacing to Anchorage would require several days of tear-down and setup before lawmakers would begin work in the Legislature’s downtown Anchorage office building, but it might mean less lost work than if lawmakers took a “long weekend” during Celebration.
Meyer said he has talked to Gov. Bill Walker, who expressed concerns about the inability of “Gavel to Gavel” to broadcast the session on TV.
Meyer said he also must talk to the House’s leadership to arrange a plan by Monday.
“We can’t adjourn on our own,” he said.
Friday is the 12th day of a special session called by Walker to address the state’s fiscal situation. While lawmakers have passed a budget to keep state services running past July 1, the state still faces a multibillion-dollar deficit, and Walker has implied that he will keep lawmakers working until they vote on components of his plan to balance that deficit.
The last day of the special session is June 21, though lawmakers could gavel themselves out of the session before then.