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Alaska Legislature plans March 12 vote on Gov. Dunleavy’s executive orders

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Alaska Legislature plans March 12 vote on Gov. Dunleavy’s executive orders

Mar 01, 2024 | 9:30 pm ET
By James Brooks
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Alaska Legislature plans March 12 vote on Gov. Dunleavy’s executive orders
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The Alaska State Capitol in Juneau is seen on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

The Alaska House and Senate have asked Gov. Mike Dunleavy to withdraw three of the 12 executive orders he issued at the start of the legislative session and are planning up-or-down votes on at least six others.

According to a draft plan shared with reporters Friday, the votes will take place March 12, during a joint session of the House and Senate.

“It looks like that will be the way we will proceed,” said Speaker of the House Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, “but everything’s subject to change in the Legislature.”

The governor’s office has previously said Dunleavy intended the orders — which affect various state boards, commissions and agencies — to improve government efficiency. But people affected by those orders have testified against many of them and urged state lawmakers to block them. Legislative attorneys also said that one order, splitting the boards of the Alaska Energy Authority and the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, is likely unconstitutional because it would encroach on the Legislature’s authority to write laws.

The governor’s communications office said it had no information on the views of the governor’s office about the legislative plan.

Under the draft plan, the House will ask the governor’s office to withdraw the board-splitting order, as well as orders abolishing the state’s Board of Direct-Entry Midwives and the Board of Massage Therapists. Both boards have bipartisan support in the Capitol.

The idea of dividing the AIDEA and AEA boards has legislative support, and the Senate Resources Committee has introduced a bill to split them through state law.

The draft plan for the joint session calls for the Senate majority leader to call for up-or-down votes on six executive orders:

  • EO 125, dealing with the emergency medical services board;
  • EO 133, affecting the criminal justice information advisory board;
  • EO 126, dissolving the Wood-Tikchik State Park Management Council;
  • EO 132, ending the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Advisory Council;
  • EO 131, changing the way appointments are made to the Alaska Marine Highway Operations Board; and
  • EO 129, dissolving the board of barbers and hairdressers.

“A couple of those, the governor’s going to win on, very definitely,” said Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, “but there’s a couple he might lose on.”

No vote is currently planned on three other executive orders, dealing with exotic game, the state safety advisory council and the recreation rivers council, respectively. Stevens said any legislator could make a motion from the floor to call them to a vote. 

If the governor doesn’t withdraw the orders dealing with the midwives, massage and AIDEA/AEA boards, Stevens said he expects those to be brought up as well.

“If he doesn’t withdraw them. I’m sure that somebody’s gonna make a motion on the floor to deal with them,” Stevens said.