Alaska's 2012 legislative session began Tuesday as lawmakers listened to a rendition of the Alaska state song.
With a lot to deal with this session, today some legislators wondered if the 90-day session should last longer - 120 days like before it was in 2008.
House minority leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, says it would allow lawmakers to be more thoughtful.
"When you see bills getting just one hearing, and coming to the floor, that really isn't involving the public," Kerttula said in a house minority press conference.
But some in the house majority say their jobs can be done in 90 days.
"It's my fondest hope we can get our business done, and i think the house has shown its commitment to the 90-day session and we want to adhere to that," said Rep. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, at a press conference held by the house majority.
Both groups also addressed the developments Tuesday that the group supporting a coastal zone management program had apparently gathered enough signatures to put the question to voters. If the legislature passes a similar law this session, that initiative would become moot. Kertulla says she wants to see lawmakers take on the challenge.
"I think we're elected to lead, so I'd personally like to see the legislature recognize how fast Alaskans supported this and I think it would be to their detriment if they don't recognize that."
But house speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, left any option open.
"I can't tell you exactly what direction we would go yet, but certainly there are some who would want to address it, and some that would not want to address it," Chenault said.
Also discussed on Tuesday were savings bills from several lawmakers that would take money out of the state's stash of reserve money and put it into the permanent fund.
Proponents of the plan say it's a smart move because permanent fund money would be harder for future legislators to dip into, giving something for Alaskans to rely on. But others say the state's future potential money troubles mean that money shouldn't be tied up.
"How fast could we tap that, how fast could that money be gone?" said Kerttula, referring to the state's constitutional budget reserve. "I like the idea of having money in the permanent fund, where it's saved for future generations."
"I think we may fight over where the best savings account is, but as long as there's money put into savings, it doesn't matter what account, so i don't think that should be a battle," said Chenault.