JUNEAU, Alaska — The special session of the state Legislature opened Wednesday with more of a whimper than a bang. Floor sessions saw the absence of many lawmakers, who need more than a single day of rest after 90 days of work.
In the Senate, only 14 of 20 senators showed up for what is largely a ceremonial start of the special session, the formal reading of Gov. Sean Parnell's agenda.
Two of the special session's objectives, the revision of the state's oil taxation regime and a bill to build an in-state natural gas pipeline, are still bones of contention in the Legislature. But one of the measures, a strengthened law against human trafficking, has garnered widespread agreement and seems bound to pass quickly.
In fact, Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) strengthened the bill. Wielechowski said he'd learned of 23 instances in which young Alaska Native girls were trafficked from rural villages -- and that when he checked existing state law, he found that it applied only to the interstate transport of young people for purposes of prostitution.