Alaska Senate Confirmations, Focuses on Fiscal Challenge
April 27, 2017
“We must keep our eye on the prize,” said Senate President Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks). “Our top priority is working to pass SB 26, the solution to the state’s fiscal problem.”
The Alaska Senate passed Senate Bill 26 on March 15, 2017; the House passed its version in mid-April. A conference committee appointed this week will now meet to evaluate the differences and come to a compromise.
Traditionally, confirmation hearings occur at the end of the legislative session, and both the House and governor have indicated they intend to operate under the 121-day constitutional limit; today is day 101.
Governor Bill Walker released a prepared statement on the Senate’s failure to hold a vote on his Cabinet appointees and nominees for state boards and commissions.
Governor Walker said, “I thank members of the House for their leadership to invite the Senate to their chambers, on two separate sessions, to hold a confirmation hearing on more than 100 Alaskans who have stepped forward to serve their state. I am disappointed that the Senate Majority has, once again, refused the House’s invitation to participate in this process. I will continue to focus on resolving Alaska’s fiscal crisis this session.”
The Republican Senate Majority voted along caucus lines Thursday to immediately adjourn a joint session called by a proclamation from Governor Bill Walker. The purpose of the session was to vote on confirmations of more than 100 Alaskans to fill vital government roles including Attorney General for the State of Alaska. A previous call to a joint session earlier in the month was refused by the Senate Majority.
“This is embarrassing for the Senate, frankly,” said Senate Democratic Leader Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage). “We are here to do the work of the people, not to play these ridiculous political games. Behavior like this disrespects the Alaskans who have stepped forward to do the work of the people, and it disrespects the people themselves. Alaskans deserve better than this.”
“These nominees offered to serve Alaska and have been waiting months for this day. They should not be used as political pawns,” said Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage).
Reporting & Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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