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Quick Alaska Senate meeting wraps up special gas pipeline session

JUNEAU — The Alaska Legislature officially adjourned its special session on the natural gas pipeline after a quick meeting of the Senate on Thursday morning, which was followed by Gov. Bill Walker signing a $160 million budget bill for the project into law.

The Senate on Tuesday decisively approved the budget bill that Walker called them to Juneau to consider. But senators scheduled a session Thursday in case the House changed the legislation — a contingency that turned out to be unnecessary because the House unanimously adopted the Senate’s bill in full Wednesday.

Walker signed the bill in his Cabinet room Thursday afternoon in an unusually quick turnaround. Three of the four co-chairs of the House and Senate finance committees joined him and were handed the pens Walker used to sign the legislation, in what Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, described as an honor.

Thursday morning’s quick floor session in the Senate was devoted to announcements and quick speeches. Sen. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, introduced one of his constituents, whom he described as a “third-generation carnie.” (The family of the constituent, Chase Eckert, owns Golden Wheel Amusements in Chugiak.)

Then, Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, praised the contractors who have been renovating the Capitol, and he bid Senate President Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, farewell.

“I hope Santa Claus is nice to you,” Egan said. “And I’ll see you in January.”

The amicable end to the special session was in stark contrast to the acrimonious conclusion of the Legislature’s regular session earlier this year. Meyer said in a brief interview Thursday: “I think we worked really well this session.”

Sen. Berta Gardner, D-Anchorage, added: “People didn’t come down with their minds already made up.”

“People listened, and asked questions,” she said.

Walker, at the news conference, said the votes this week showed lawmakers’ “united desire to have a pipeline.”

“Sometimes we have a discussion about the process of how we get there,” he said. But, he added: “Nobody is against the pipeline.”

In related news, Alaska Senate approves TransCanada buyout bill.

This article was written by NATHANIEL HERZ from Alaska Dispatch News, Anchorage and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.