ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Alaska Legislature has called itself into a special session to consider overriding Gov. Sarah Palin’s veto of federal stimulus funds for energy-related projects.
Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, said the one-day session will be held Aug. 10 in Anchorage instead of the state Capitol in Juneau.
Palin initially said she would not accept about one-third of the $930 million Alaska was eligible for under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, citing “strings” that could bind the state to federal mandates and increase the size of government.
Legislators found few strings and passed a bill accepting all federal money. Palin accepted all the stimulus funds except for $28.5 million in energy cost relief. Lawmakers have been mulling an override vote, but said it would be difficult during the summer as the state’s 60 lawmakers were traveling and enjoying summer activities.
They had asked the federal government if they could consider the override in January when they reconvene. However, last week, U.S. Department of Energy officials said they were unwilling to wait until the regular legislative session to see if lawmakers will override Palin’s veto and apply for the State Energy Program money.
An override would require a three-fourths majority in both the House and Senate.
“I’m pretty convinced we’ve got the votes in the Senate. The House leadership is trying to figure out if they’ve got the votes to override the stimulus veto, but I think they do,” Stevens said.