100 Years of Alaska's Legislature
"From Territorial Days to Today"

2015 - 2016

Juneau, Alaska

29th State Legislature

Oil Prices Plummet


Alaska in fiscal crisis

Alaska's fiscal crisis, precipitated by a collapse in oil prices, consumed the focus of the 29th Legislature. Faced with multi-billion deficits in both sessions, a historic five special sessions were called to consider the budget, various revenue measures, and Medicaid expansion. Ultimately, the Legislature enacted significant budget cuts but rejected all other deficit-reduction measures proposed by legislators and Governor Bill Walker, except for the elimination of oil and gas tax credits in Cook Inlet. Accordingly, in July 2016, the Governor vetoed $1.29 billion from the budget, including cutting appropriations so that permanent fund dividends were capped at $1,000 per person.

Other focal points in the 29th Legislature include the following:

  • On September 1, 2015, Governor Walker implemented Medicaid expansion without approval of the Legislature. During the 2016 session, Alaska lawmakers passed comprehensive Medicaid reform legislation with the goals of generating financial savings to the state and expanding services to Medicaid recipients.
  • In response to the approval of a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana in Alaska, lawmakers established the Marijuana Control Board in 2015, and in 2016, allowed local communities to opt-out of marijuana legalization.
  • In 2016, the Legislature passed an omnibus crime bill with bipartisan support in an effort to reduce recidivism, enhance public safety, and reduce corrections spending.
  • In 2016, lawmakers passed a comprehensive rewrite of Alaska's Code of Military Justice, which had not been substantively updated since statehood.

Beyond the Legislature

Cuba and the U.S. restore diplomatic ties after five decades.

World leaders reach a landmark agreement on climate change, resulting in 195 nations signing the Paris Climate Accord.

More than a million migrants and refugees cross into Europe in 2015, fleeing the Syrian Civil War and instability and violence elsewhere.

Federal prosecutors in the U.S. bring corruption charges against 16 Federation International de Football Association (FIFA) officials for accepting bribes and other criminal activities.

The Zika virus emerges as a major global health threat.

The United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union in a referendum, known as Brexit.

Donald Trump is elected the 45th President of the United States.

Mike Chenault

Kevin Meyer