Special session to cost state up to $25,000 a day

Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2002

The expense of the extended and special session will not be known for another week or so, but Legislative Affairs Executive Director Pamela Varni said a special session can cost the state as much as $25,000 a day.

Varni said the daily amount increases vastly when lawyers and other special witnesses are called to testify at committee hearings.

The Legislature's failure to come to an agreement on the future of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska prompted Gov. Tony Knowles to call a special session beginning June 24. In addition to a two-day extension of the regular session last week, this will be the third special session called during the 22nd Legislature, which includes the 2001 and 2002 meetings.

Varni said the Legislature set aside $200,000 to cover special sessions.

"A lot of years they've never had the money budgeted," she said.

When money is not set aside for special sessions, the Legislature dips into the state's general fund to cover the cost. Varni said any unused portion of the $200,000 will be sent back to the general fund.

Holding a special session immediately after the regular session saves the state about $50,000 in transportation costs and daily allowances, she said.

Most lawmakers are given daily expenses of $174 to cover food and housing. Juneau delegates receive 75 percent of that amount because they have homes in the capital city.

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