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Alaska Legislature

Judge dismisses lawsuit prompted by 2019 legislative special session

File photo: State Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, and Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, speak to some state legislators gathered at Wasilla Middle School last summer. A larger group of lawmakers met in Juneau. (Bill Roth/ADN)

JUNEAU — A Fairbanks Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, and Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, that stemmed from a 2019 legislative special session that saw lawmakers divided over the legal location of the session.

In his ruling Monday, Judge Michael MacDonald said there were four reasons for the dismissal: the defendants are subject to legislative immunity, the special session has ended, the plaintiff lacks standing, and the issue is a political one that the courts should not decide.

The lawsuit was brought by former state legislator Stanley Allen “Al” Vezey, who said it was improper for Edgmon and Giessel to convene a special session in Juneau when Gov. Mike Dunleavy had called for it to begin in Wasilla.

A majority of lawmakers convened the session in Juneau. A large minority gathered in Wasilla but lacked a quorum to properly open the session. Those in Wasilla traveled to Juneau after the governor changed his order.

A second lawsuit involving the special session — this one levied against the governor — is scheduled for courtroom arguments May 15 in Anchorage. Plaintiffs Kevin McCoy and Mary Geddes are challenging the constitutionality of the law that allows a governor to call a special session outside Juneau, and the judge in that case has already declined to dismiss it.