UPDATE: The Bill failed in the State House late Monday night and is now going to a Conference Committee to determine a negotiated bill prior to being taken up again by both bodies. Reportedly, Representatives Sarah Vance R-Homer and Ben Carpenter R-Nikiski both threatened to abandon Juneau and return to their respective districts in protest of the vote.
ORIGINAL STORY: The Alaska State Senate voted Monday to throw out a lifeline to a drowning economy, hoping to buoey thing up for a few months.
The Senate passed a bill giving Alaskans who qualified for a 2019 Permanent Fund Dividend two payments from the state in 2020, $1,000 before the end of the fiscal year on June 30, and another $1,000 PFD check in October.
Senator Mike Shower R-Wasilla made an amendment from the floor to add the extra economic stimulus payment to help out Alaskans who "were wondering what they are going to do tomorrow." Shower asked for payments to be made as soon as possible.
Funds for both disbursements would come from the Permanent Fund. In standing for the disbursements, Senator Bill Wielechowski D-Anchorage noted that the Permanent Fund was set up as a "rainy day" account and Alaska was experiencing a wrath-of-god rain event.
The Senate also passed a significantly larger budget than was expected at the beginning of session, essentially adding back resources trimmed the year prior.
They gave the Dunleavy Administration unlimited receipt authority for federal funds so state agencies have all possible resources available to fight the coronavirus, tapping funds from the constitutional budget reserve.
Once the House has passed the budget, the Senate has voted to recess until later in the year, perhaps in late summer or early fall, to finish the session's business.