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Alaska lawmakers open new special session on budget

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposes paying qualified residents a sum of $3,678 over three years to make up for years that checks from the state's oil-wealth fund were capped at a news conference in Juneau, Alaska, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska lawmakers opened their second special session Wednesday with little public progress toward resolution on a state budget standoff.

The Legislature passed a budget package last week. But Gov. Mike Dunleavy called it “defective,” citing as a concern the House’s failure to garner sufficient support for a procedural effective date vote. The effective date provisions fell four votes short of passage. Just two of the House Republican minority caucus’ 18 members voted with the majority in support.

Legislative attorneys and the Department of Law have offered differing views on what the failed vote might mean. The attorney general has asked a judge to weigh in. The new fiscal year starts July 1.

Dunleavy introduced a new budget bill Wednesday but House Speaker Louise Stutes said securing support for the effective date provisions attached to the bill passed last week was her priority. She said she was optimistic about negotiations but declined to provide specifics.

Senate President Peter Micciche said the Senate is standing by as the House works through the matter.

“This seems to be an issue between them,” he said of the House caucuses, “and we are certainly hoping and praying that they come to resolution here in the next couple days.”

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