Good morning, Alaska! It’s Day 98 of the legislative session.
On Saturday, we all learned that covid-denying Eagle River Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold had been banned from travel on Alaska Airlines after her latest confrontation over masks with Alaska Airlines employees. “Guest Reibold (sic) is no longer welcome Alaska and Horizon Air. Please refer any questions to customer care,” read an internal communication following an incident filmed at Juneau International Airport on Thursday where several staff members could be seen trying to inform Reinbold of proper masking policy. “We need you to pull the mask up or I’m not going to let you on the plane,” one staff member can be seen telling her and when she claims it is, he shoots back in the tone an exasperated teacher might use for a misbehaving child, “It is not. It’s down below your nose.”
The ban, which is pending investigation, raised questions about how the legislative outcast would make it back to Juneau. Alaska Airlines is the only commercial carrier with flights currently to Juneau. The Alaska Marine Highway System has Juneau-bound sailings out of Haines and Skagway, which both require drives through Canada, as well as one out of Whittier that would arrive on Wednesday afternoon. The news quickly went national and is currently trending on Twitter, but if anyone in Juneau was hoping for a reprieve from the mask-challenged legislators then think again.
According to her Facebook account, she chose the Canada route to Haines, making it there in time for the Sunday afternoon sailing to Juneau.
Too important, she says, is the upcoming Senate vote on House Bill 76, the extension of the state’s disaster declaration. “Nothing could get in the way to be in the Capitol to fight to executive branch infringement on the legislature & defending your rights by trying to stop HB76,” she wrote, adding in another post that, “I am happier than ever to engage in the political battle....to help kill HB76.”
HB76 is scheduled to be on the Senate floor today. She just couldn't stay away.
Why it matters: The Lora Reinbold-shaped shadow continues to loom over the Alaska Legislature.
Look, ma! We made Bad Legal Takes.
Lora Reinbold theatrics aside, this appears to finally be the week where the Legislature gets moving on the budget. The House Finance Committee is set to start hearing operating budget amendments on Tuesday after it rolled out the latest iteration of the budget on Friday. The big takeaway with the current state of the budget is that it doesn’t include a dividend at this point and that it uses quite a bit of federal relief money (about $700 million) but not as much as was proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy (which was somewhere near the $900 million mark). It substitutes in about $454.5 million for general fund dollars, freeing up the money for spending on infrastructure and the dividend. Unlike the governor’s proposal, the House doesn’t create any new government program, a request of the minority Republicans.
The reading list
U.S. Senate Republicans rolled out their own infrastructure proposal over the weekend that has some numbers that kinda might sound good on first look, but an experienced budget reporter says otherwise. From The Washington Post: Apples to apples, the Senate GOP infrastructure proposal is smaller than it appears
Communities with low vaccination rates are, surprise, seeing sharp upticks in covid-19 cases. That’s true for Fairbanks, where cases had been relatively low throughout most of the pandemic but is seeing some of its highest daily case rates now. From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: FNSB has sharp spike in Covid-19 cases
From the opinion pages of the News-Miner, “When is it ever a good idea for the federal or state government to insinuate itself in the business of business? … Government cannot be the be-all, end-all answer every time there is a question. Rather than have Big Brother poking his nose into businesses, why not leave the question of vaccinations and the work place to those who own or work in the work place?” From the News-Miner Editorial Board: A worrisome future for vaccine mandates: Businesses, not governments, should be leading the charge
On the agenda
As always, find the full agenda here, but here’s what’s on my radar:
9 a.m. Senate Finance — Hearing on SB 128 by Dunleavy, proposing to spend the American Rescue Plan dollars. (The House is opting to just roll this into its regular operating budget)
10:30 a.m. Senate Floor — SB 89 by Dunleavy, rules for assisted living homes; HB 76 by Dunleavy, extending the state covid-19 disaster declaration (the reason Reinbold rushed back, so it ought to be… interesting).
1 p.m. House Judiciary — HJR 1 by Rep. Kreiss-Tomkins, constitutional permanent fund POMV; HB 142 by Rep. McCarty on PFD eligibility
1:30 p.m. Senate Judiciary — SB 122 by Sen. Reinbold, definition of a victim; SB 82 by Dunleavy, election investigations; SJR 6 by Dunleavy, constitutionalize PFDs; SB 53 by Dunleavy, advisory vote on permanent fund and PFDs.