After the fanfare of the general election fades away and the nail-biter races are called, the action moves to the task of legislative organization - who will be in charge of what, who will wield the levers of power, and who will not. This can take no time or a very, very long time, depending on the ideological schisms of those elected.
The State Senate has rapidly coalesced around a 17-member bipartisan majority. Likely this formation was in the works after the August primary numbers came in, given the patchy trend (but trend indeed) of voters electing the more moderate candidate. This organization has many strong champions of education at the helm, and recent statements indicate that the coalition's focus will be to protect education, grow the economy and address high energy costs in Alaska. At this point, we are prepared for a pretty low-key fireworks show in the Senate compared to the last four years. We anticipate the Senate will be a strong barrier against Governor Dunleavy’s more damaging budget proposals.
The fact that the Governor previously proposed a Renewable Portfolio Standard and a Green Bank for clean energy investments last session, the fact that long-term natural gas supply contracts in SouthCentral Alaska are ending in 2024, the fact that the floodgates are open on federal clean energy infrastructure program money, and the fact that the state Senate is clearly indicating it wants to work on energy costs - are good facts for our legislative priorities at The Alaska Center.
Our priority goals to help Alaskans lower energy costs and to address climate change are as follows:
- Pass a Renewable Portfolio Standard that will allow Alaska Railbelt utilities customers to purchase energy from 80% renewable sources by 2040.
- Pass Community Solar legislation that will allow more Alaskans to benefit from renewable energy.
- Extend the Renewable Energy Fund.
Stay tuned for more on these and other clean energy priorities in our next blog!
Whether the State House will rally around similar general goals (education, economy, energy) as the Senate is now an open question. The House is in a more protracted organizing process and will not know until after December 21 if one member is eligible to take his seat until the courts determine if he is in violation of the Alaska Constitution’s Disloyalty Clause. However the House organizes, the numbers trend toward moderation with 6 Independents, 13 Democrats, and 21 Republicans. We hope for a continued Bipartisan Coalition in the House that will work towards a more thriving, just, and sustainable future.
If the Governor is moderated by the Senate bipartisan coalition, the House Republicans will be moderated by the Governor’s goals - that is our prediction anyway. It bodes well for meat and potato issues like driving down energy costs for Alaskans through increases in clean energy, and we can work with that.
Talk to you soon,
The Alaska Center
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