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Press Release

Attorney General Seeks Court Decision on the Failure of the Effective Date in the Budget Bill

June 21, 2021

(Anchorage, AK) – Attorney General Treg Taylor today brought action in Superior Court seeking clarification from the court on whether, despite the failed effective date of the recently passed budget bill HB 69, money can be spent to keep state services open on July 1, 2021, the start of the fiscal year.

&When there is a dispute between branches of government, we need the courts to step in,& said Attorney General Treg Taylor. &The executive and legislative branches need clarity now from the courts as to whether the governor can, if the bill is enacted, spend money immediately despite HB 69 not taking effect until 90 days after enactment.&

Article II, section 18 of the Alaska Constitution provides that, unless agreed to by two-thirds of each house, a law passed by the legislature becomes effective ninety days after enactment. The legislature failed to pass a separate effective date with HB 69. The Constitution's plain language states that the bill, and therefore provisions within the bill, do not go into effect until ninety days after the bill's passage. This includes any retroactivity provision within the bill. Despite the clear constitutional language, the Legislative Affairs Agency has sent notice to legislators and legislative staff that the position of the Legislature is that a functional budget was passed and the government can continue to function as normal beginning July 1, 2021.

The Attorney General has the obligation to defend the Constitution. Statutes and common law provide him the authority to bring cases in the public interest. Ensuring that state funds are expended in accordance with the constitution falls within the Attorney General's authority.

&I agree with the Attorney General's decision to petition the court on this important matter,& said Governor Mike Dunleavy. &We need the third branch of government to step in and resolve this dispute to ensure we all carry out our constitutional duties appropriately. I will not ignore the constitution. I, along with my legal team, believe the Legislature should not ignore the constitution. The Attorney General's actions are consistent with my goal of doing everything possible to avoid a government shutdown.&

The motion for summary judgment was filed this afternoon along with a motion for expedited consideration. The Attorney General is asking for a court decision by noon on June 30.

Related documents available below

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Department Media Contact: Assistant Attorney General Grace Lee.