Former lawmaker files suit against lawmakers meeting in Juneau

Published: Jul. 10, 2019 at 10:09 AM AKDT
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A lawsuit has been filed in Fairbanks Superior Court against lawmakers who are meeting in Juneau for the second special session.

The lawsuit was filed at noon Wednesday by attorney Bill Satterberg on behalf of former Republican Rep. Al Vezey from North Pole against House Speaker Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, and Senate President, Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage.

"The assembling of legislators in Juneau, Alaska is nothing more than a gathering of members of the legislature," the lawsuit states.

Satterberg said Tuesday that his client was seeking a declaratory judgment from a Superior Court judge. The judgment would aim to accomplish three primary things: Make the Juneau session invalid, compel lawmakers to convene in Wasilla and make any laws passed during the Juneau session invalid.

An Alaska statute passed in 1982 states that 40 lawmakers are required to choose the location of a special session. As of Wednesday morning, only 39 wanted to meet in Juneau.

"The Alaska Legislature, pursuant to law, has its own ability to convene its own special session by an affirmative vote of at least 40 legislators who agree to hold a special session," the complaint states. "However, the Alaska Legislature has failed to utilize its own ability to call a special session," it continues.

Attorneys for the Legislature have told lawmakers that the 1982 statute is trumped by the constitution, which doesn't spell out a process for legislators choosing the location of a session.

Kevin Clarkson, the Alaska Attorney General, said he believes a court would declare the statute as valid and that lawmakers would be required to go to Wasilla, as called for by the governor.

Although the Superior Court has general jurisdiction and can hear the lawsuit against the legislators in Juneau, Satterberg said he believed the suit would eventually be heard in the Alaska Supreme Court.

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