Alaska Legislature shutters offices on Friday afternoons

first_imgThe Anchorage Legislative Information Office, March 4, 2016. (Photo by Megan Ahleman)As a cost-saving measure, 22 legislative information offices around the state are shuttered starting this Friday afternoon.Listen nowThe offices will be closed every Friday afternoon while the legislature is not in session. The legislature’s in-house administrative council voted the action through 9-1 on Thursday.The Legislative Council’s vote, which also included a reduction in payroll for support staff that work irregularly, is expected to cover a $298,000 cut in the legislature’s operating budget for the current budget year.Some legislators on the council expressed an appetite to cut further and close the offices for the entire day on Fridays.Sen. Gary Stevens, a Kodiak Republican, chairs the council and said that could still happen down the road.“I can accept a half-day closure on Fridays to see how it works. It saves us enough money. And in the future if we find that’s still not enough, when there are additional cuts, then maybe we should be going to a full day on Friday. But I think this is a step towards solving our problem,” he said.The information offices are staffed by nonpartisan employees of the Legislative Affairs Agency.Those employees facilitate teleconferencing for Alaskans to remotely attend legislative meetings. They also serve as a public point of contact and as interpreters of what’s often an arcane lawmaking process.Sue Cotter, who manages the legislature’s information and teleconferencing, told the council that in some of the remote offices, her staff also help process Permanent Fund dividend documents.last_img

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