Senator Bill Wielechowski (D – Anchorage) made a bold move today during a senate floor session. He motioned for the senate to vote to move his bill, Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 1, out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, which would enshrine the permanent fund dividend in the Alaska Constitution, has yet to have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It has been in the committee since March of last year. Senator John Coghill (R – North Pole) is the chair of Senate Judiciary.
Wielechowski took advantage of a rarely used procedural rule that allows a member to call for a vote of the body to move a bill out of a committee. When he called for the vote, Senate President Pete Kelly (R – Fairbanks) seemed to be caught off guard and took an immediate “at ease.” He appeared to consult the Senate Secretary, who acts as the senate parliamentarian. The rules do not allow this type of motion to be tabled, likely what the parliamentarian told Kelly.
Kelly then told Wielechowski that he was not permitted to talk about the merits of the bill, only why it should be moved out of committee. After Wielechowski spoke, Kelly again called an “at ease” and then Senate Rules Chair Kevin Meyer (R – Anchorage) and Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche (R – Soldotna) were seen moving around the senate floor and talking to staffers. I don’t think anyone in the majority wanted to vote on this motion.