Difference between revisions of "Alaska State Legislature"

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[[File:Alaska legislature pie chart 1992-2013.png|thumb|Partisan breakdown of the Alaska legislature from 1992-2013]]
 
[[File:Alaska legislature pie chart 1992-2013.png|thumb|Partisan breakdown of the Alaska legislature from 1992-2013]]
 
'''Alaska Senate:'''
 
'''Alaska Senate:'''
In April 2013 Ballotpedia conducted a study of the partisan control of state government from 1992-2013. During those years, the Republican Party was the majority in the Alaska State Senate for 15 years while the Democrats were the majority for six years. The final three years of the study depicted a shift in the Alaska senate with the first two years being Democrat and the final year (2013) becoming a Republican [[trifecta]].
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From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Alaska State Senate for 15 years while the Democrats were the majority for six years. The final three years of the study depicted a shift in the Alaska senate with the first two years being Democrat and the final year (2013) becoming a Republican [[trifecta]].
  
 
Across the country, there were 544 Democratic and 517 Republican State Senates from 1992-2013.
 
Across the country, there were 544 Democratic and 517 Republican State Senates from 1992-2013.
  
 
'''Alaska House of Representatives:'''
 
'''Alaska House of Representatives:'''
In April 2013 Ballotpedia conducted a study of the partisan control of state government from 1992-2013. During those years, the Republican Party was the majority in the Alaska State House of Representatives for 19 years while the Democrats were the majority for three years. The Alaska State House is one of nine state Houses that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. In the final year of the study (2013), the Alaska House became a Republican [[trifecta]].
+
From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Alaska State House of Representatives for 19 years while the Democrats were the majority for three years. The Alaska State House is one of nine state Houses that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. In the final year of the study (2013), the Alaska House became a Republican [[trifecta]].
  
 
Across the country, there were 579 Democratic and 482 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992-2013.
 
Across the country, there were 579 Democratic and 482 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992-2013.

Revision as of 18:13, 21 May 2013

Alaska State Legislature

Seal of Alaska.jpg
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2014 session start:   January 15, 2013
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Leadership
Senate President:   Gary Stevens, (R)
House Speaker:  Mike Chenault, (R)
Majority Leader:   Kevin Meyer (R) (Senate),
Alan Austerman (R) (House)
Minority leader:   John B. Coghill (R) (Senate),
Beth Kerttula (D) (House)
Structure
Members:  20 (Senate), 40 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art II, Alaska Constitution
Salary:   $50,400/year + per diem
Elections
Last Election:  November 6, 2012
10 seats (Senate)
40 seats (House)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  Alaska Redistricting Board
Meeting place:
Alaska capitol.jpg
The Alaska State Legislature is the legislative branch of the government of Alaska. It is a bicameral institution, consisting of the lower Alaska House of Representatives, with 40 members, and the upper house Alaska State Senate, with 20 members. With a total of 60 lawmakers, the Alaska Legislature is the smallest bicameral state legislature in the United States, due to factors including the geographic size of the state, and the state's small population.

The Alaska Legislature meets in the State Capitol building in Juneau.[1]

As of May 2013, Alaska is one of 24 Republican state government trifectas.

Sessions

Section 8 of Article II of the Alaska Constitution contains provisions relating to the timing and length of sessions. However, the provisions related to the convening date of the Legislature have been changed by law, and the provisions limiting the length of legislative sessions have been changed by the Alaska 90-Day Legislative Session Amendment. This amendment was passed in a 2006 ballot initiative, and it limits the regular sessions of the Legislature to ninety days.

Section 9 of Article II allows for special sessions to be called by the Governor of Alaska or by a two-thirds vote of the legislators. Special sessions are limited to 30 days.

2013

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature will be in session from January 15 to April 14.

Major issues

Oil taxes figure to be the dominant issue facing lawmakers. Other major issues include the use of public money for private schools, energy projects, voter ID and social concerns.[2]

2012

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was in regular session from January 17 to April 15. It was in special session from April 15 to April 30.[3]

Major issues

Legislators took up Governor Sean Parnell's (R) suggestion to decrease the oil tax in order to increase economic growth. They also considered a ban on texting while driving, education funding, the state's unfunded pension liability, and whether to extend the legislative session from 90 to 120 days.[4]

2011

See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislature was in session from January 18 to April 17. Lawmakers remained in Juneau from April 18 to May 14 to resolve ongoing disagreements over the state's operating budget; the final compromise included money for a new in-state natural gas pipeline and a $20 million payout to the state's schools.[5]

A second special session was held from June 27 to 28 to discuss reauthorization of the state's Coastal Management Program, which was set to expire June 30. Measures to reauthorize the program failed during the regular session. [6] The program ended on schedule after the House failed to pass a Senate proposal to save it.[7]

2010

See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Legislature was in session from January 19th to April 18th.

Non-professional Legislature

Unlike other state legislatures with longer sessions, the comparatively short Alaska session allows many lawmakers to retain outside employment, especially in the state's many seasonal industries, such as fishing and tourism. In this, the Alaska Legislature retains some of the volunteer nature that characterized most state legislatures until the middle of the 20th century. This has led to recurring but minor controversy around the potential for conflict of interest inherent in legislators' outside employment.

Legislators

Salaries

In keeping with the section above, many lawmakers retain employment outside of the legislature. However, Alaska's Constitution requires that legislators be paid a salary from the state and allows for a per diem and other allowances. Legislators receive a salary of $50,400 dollars as recommended by the State Officers Compensation Commission. In addition to the salary, presiding officers (the Senate President and Speaker of the House) receive another $500. [8]

The per diem rate is $238 or $253/day, tied to federal rate, varying with time of year. Legislators who live in the Juneau area receive 75% of federal rate.. An annual allowance is appropriated for secretarial services, postage, and stationery. Moving expenses are covered by the state.[9]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

The terms of Alaska legislators begin on the 4th Monday of the January following a November election.

Role in State Budget

Main article: Alaska state budget

By December 15th of each year, the Legislature of Alaska receives an annual budget proposal from the Governor. The budget proposal is for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1st. The Legislature then revises the budget proposal over the course of the next couple of months. In April, the Legislature votes on a budget. For a budget to pass, a majority of legislators must vote in support of it.[10]

In the midst of economic hard times, the Legislature of Alaska has failed to pass a balanced budget. And for the fiscal year 2010, Alaska faced a $1.3 billion budget gap.[11] Alaska’s estimated fiscal 2011 shortfall is reportedly $677 million.[12] The steep decline in oil prices, the state’s dominant source of revenue, ended their historical annual surplus requiring dipping into its special reserve fund of approximately $8 billion.[13]

The tight economic climate in 2010 also prompted the Legislative Finance Division to complete the Budget Clarification Project, which involved rolling $750 million in "other funds" in to the General Operating Fund in an effort to promote transparency and prevent unnecessary earmark spending.[14] As a result of the project, the Division discovered several State departments had been routinely siphoning money from the Alaska State Permanent Fund to pay for departmental expenses.[15]

Senate

See also: Alaska State Senate elections, 2010, Partisan composition of state senates

The Alaska Senate is the upper house in the Alaska Legislature. The Senate consists of 20 members. Each member represents an average of 35,512 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[16] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 31,347.[17] Senators serve four-year terms, without term limits. Half of the Alaska Senate is up for re-election every two years. With just 20 Senators, the Alaska Senate is the smallest legislative chamber in the United States.

Like other upper houses of state and territorial legislatures and the federal U.S. Senate, the Senate can confirm or reject gubernatorial appointments to the state cabinet, commissions and boards.


Party As of August 2014
     Democratic Party 7
     Republican Party 13
Total 20


House of Representatives

See also: Alaska House of Representatives elections, 2010

The Alaska House of Representatives is the lower house in the Alaska Legislature. The House is composed of 40 members. Each member represents an average of 17,756 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[18] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 15,673.[19] Members serve two-year terms without term limits. With 40 Representatives, the Alaskan House is the smallest state legislative lower house in the United States.


Party As of August 2014
     Democratic Party 14
     Republican Party 26
Total 40


History

Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Alaska
Partisan breakdown of the Alaska legislature from 1992-2013

Alaska Senate: From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Alaska State Senate for 15 years while the Democrats were the majority for six years. The final three years of the study depicted a shift in the Alaska senate with the first two years being Democrat and the final year (2013) becoming a Republican trifecta.

Across the country, there were 544 Democratic and 517 Republican State Senates from 1992-2013.

Alaska House of Representatives: From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Alaska State House of Representatives for 19 years while the Democrats were the majority for three years. The Alaska State House is one of nine state Houses that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. In the final year of the study (2013), the Alaska House became a Republican trifecta.

Across the country, there were 579 Democratic and 482 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992-2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Alaska, the Alaska State Senate and the Alaska House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Alaska state government(1992-2013).PNG

Joint legislative committees

The Alaska State Legislature has the following joint standing committees and joint select committee:

External links

References

  1. Session dates for Alaska legislature, 2010
  2. Anchorage Daily News, "Oil taxes the top agenda for next legislature," January 13, 2013
  3. StateScape, Session schedules, accessed April 30, 2012
  4. Anchorage Daily News, "Lingering issues to test Legislature," January 16, 2012
  5. Juneau Empire, "Operating budget agreement helps clear way to end of session," May 4, 2011.
  6. StateScape.com, Session Updates, accessed June 28, 2011
  7. Anchorage Daily News, "House votes down bill to save coastal management program," June 28, 2011.
  8. State Officers Compensation Commission "Findings and Recommendations" January 10, 2009
  9. NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  10. National Association of State Budget Offices, 2008 Budget Processes in the States, Pages 4-5
  11. Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, "New Fiscal Year Brings No Relief From Unprecedented State Budget Problems," September 3, 2009
  12. Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, "New Fiscal Year Brings No Relief From Unprecedented State Budget Problems," September 3, 2009
  13. Alaska Journal of Commerce, “Parnell says he'll tackle state budget planning with care,” September 18, 2009
  14. Alaska Watchdog, "State rolls millions in to general fund"
  15. Alaska Watchdog, "State takes millions from Permanent Fund"
  16. Population in 2010 of the American states
  17. Population in 2000 of the American states
  18. Population in 2010 of the American states
  19. Population in 2000 of the American states