Legislators Comment on Upcoming Session in Juneau

Legislators Comment on Upcoming Session in Juneau

The Alaska Legislature is set to convene for its third special session this year, this time to consider a buyout of one of the state’s partners on a proposed multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas project.

Legislators had been expecting a fall special session to deal with gas-line issues, but they will not be presented with contracts as once hoped, since key agreements have yet to be reached between the state and its partners. The special session agenda set by Gov. Bill Walker has the proposed buyout of TransCanada Corp.’s interest in the project as well as a gas reserves tax, which the governor has characterized as a way to make sure the project can’t be stalled if a company doesn’t allow for gas it controls to be commercialized.

Legislators said they’d hoped to get details on Walker’s proposals well in advance to begin delving in. The special session is scheduled to begin Saturday in Juneau. Walker spokeswoman Katie Marquette said bills will be released before the start of the session.

Rep. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, who serves on the House Resources Committee, said the costs, potential benefits and risks of any buyout need to be examined closely, a point echoed by others.

Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, said that as the potential cost for state participation goes up, the scrutiny goes up, and legislators will have to feel a certain degree of comfort with what they choose to do.

“The governor needs to justify that this is within our fiscal means,” said Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, and chair of the Senate Resources Committee.

House Majority Leader Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, said she would like Walker to be more open with legislators. “We all have to work together,” she said.

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