Politics & Government

Alaska lawmakers may overturn 90-day session limit ballot initiative

JUNEAU — A legislative task force says the 90-day limit imposed by Alaska voters on how long the Legislature can be in session is too short and should be overturned by lawmakers.

The new report cites reasons ranging from legislators saying they aren't getting enough sleep to complaining they don't get to talk enough with their constituents over the three months.

The report is from a subcommittee appointed in the state House to study the impact of the shortened session. It's led by Homer Republican Rep. Paul Seaton and includes Rep. Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage, and Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham.

But overturning ballot initiatives is always controversial, especially in an election year. The Senate appears too divided and even some in the House are reluctant to dump the 90-day session in spite of constant complaints it's too short.

"Certainly some (legislators) might complain but a longer session means we pass more legislation and sometimes that's not good for Alaskans," House Speaker Mike Chenault, a Nikiski Republican, said on Wednesday.

Alaska voters in 2006 narrowly passed a ballot initiative reducing the length of the Legislature's annual regular session from 121 days to 90 days. The initiative was sponsored by three legislators who argued lawmakers wasted a lot of time in Juneau and shortening it would be more efficient.

But the shorter session has never been popular with their colleagues.

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