SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Lawmakers Put Aside Party Labels to Form a New Alaska House Majority

New Senate Coalitions Announced


November 10, 2016
Thursday PM

(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - In the wake of an historic election, a new majority caucus has formed in the Alaska House of Representatives. The new House Majority is made up of 22 Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who have pledged to put aside party labels and address Alaska's fiscal challenges. The new House Majority will be led by Representative Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham), who will serve as the Speaker of the House.

"The severe drop in oil revenues, coupled with legislative inaction, has contributed to the current recession that threatens our economy, the livelihoods of thousands of Alaskans, and essential services like education and public safety," said Speaker Elect Edgmon. "The members of the new House Majority are dedicated to passing a legislative agenda that addresses the fiscal crisis and the root causes of the crisis."

The leadership team of the new House Majority will include Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage), Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage), Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer), Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome), and Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak). Rep. LeDoux will serve as the Chair of the House Rules Committee and Rep. Tuck was chosen as the new Majority Leader. Reps. Seaton and Foster will serve as the Co-Chairs of the House Finance Committee. Rep. Stutes will serve as the Majority Whip. Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) will serve as the vice-chair of the House Finance Committee.

"The size and scope of the problems facing Alaska warrant this historic effort to create a majority organization that will make the hard choices that must be made to protect this great state," said Rep. LeDoux. "It's time to focus on real solutions. That's what we are going to do and I hope every member of the Alaska Legislature will join us in this effort."

A stated goal of the new Alaska House Majority is to work cooperatively with the Minority members in the House of Representatives, the members of the Alaska Senate, and the administration of Governor Bill Walker to create and pass needed legislation with the full input of the people of Alaska.

"The results of the election show a clear need for change and the members of this new majority organization understand and embrace that challenge," said Rep. Seaton. "By working together and putting aside partisanship, we can make the changes the people of Alaska demand and protect the Alaskan way of life."

"Alaska is blessed with tremendous natural resources and resilient people that, in the past, have always come together as Alaskans to overcome challenges," said Rep. Tuck. "Solutions to our fiscal problems exist and we can get there if we all pull together, work hard, and put Alaska before party."

"I am so eager to get to work because I know the dedication to solutions that exists among the members of this majority organization," said Rep. Stutes. "We are facing a $3 billion deficit, a downgraded credit rating, and fiscal challenges like we have never seen before. Together we can overcome these obstacles and any other roadblocks in our way."

The members of the new House Majority met earlier Wednesday to formalize the team that will lead the new majority caucus in the 30th Alaska Legislature, which will convene January 17, 2017 in Juneau.

A 15-member Alaska Senate Majority was also formed Wednesday designed to represent all Alaskans in a diversity of geographic and political interests, with a fair mix of urban and rural representation from throughout the state.

The leadership team is represented by Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) as President, Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Kenai Peninsula) as Majority Leader, Sen. Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage) as Rules Chair, and Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River) and Sen. Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel) as co-chairs of Finance.

Committee chairs are as follows:

  • Health and Social Services - Senator-elect David Wilson (R-Wasilla)
  • Judiciary - Sen. John Coghill (R-Fairbanks)
  • Resources - Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-East/South Anchorage)
  • State Affairs - Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla)
  • Community and Regional Affairs - Sen. Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks)
  • Labor and Commerce - Sen. Mia Costello (R-Anchorage)
  • Transportation - Sen. Bert Stedman (R-Sitka)
  • Education - Senator-elect Shelly Hughes (R-Palmer/Chugiak)
  • Legislative Budget and Audit - Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak).

The Finance Committee under Sen. MacKinnon and Sen. Hoffman include Sen. Click Bishop, Sen. Peter Micciche, Sen. Mike Dunleavy, and Senator-elect Natasha Von Imhoff.

The Alaska Senate Democrats also announced a new organization Wednesday for the upcoming 30th Alaska State Legislature which commences on January 17, 2017. The caucus will include Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage), Senator Dennis Egan (D-Juneau), Senator Donny Olson (D-Golovin), Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), and Senator-elect Tom Begich (D-Anchorage). Senator Gardner will continue to serve as the Minority Leader.

Committee assignments for the caucus are as follows:

  • Senator Berta Gardner: Community & Regional Affairs, Rules, State Affairs
  • Senator Dennis Egan: Transportation, Labor & Commerce
  • Senator Donny Olson: Finance
  • Senator Bill Wielechowski: Judiciary, Resources
  • Senator Tom Begich: Health & Social Services, Education

“The results of [Tuesday] night’s national election surprised everyone, and Alaska’s results were no different,” said Senate Minority Leader, Berta Gardner. “We have seen incumbent members of the legislative Majority presumed to be secure in their seats lose or nearly lose elections in the primaries, and again yesterday in the general election. The composition and character of the new legislature will be very different from the last, and I believe that’s a good thing for Alaskans. The message from voters is clear - they feel the Majority is not listening to them.”

In a tumultuous election cycle, the Alaska Senate Democratic caucus easily retained all of its incumbent seats. On the House side, a new Bipartisan Majority has been announced consisting of 22 Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.

“We are extremely pleased to hear that there will be a new bipartisan majority in the House,” said Gardner. “Our strong relationships with the new majority members will help to foster communication and a spirit of cooperation which is sorely needed to break the gridlock in Juneau. We are hopeful that the 30th Legislature will do what the 29th was unable to do – work together to solve Alaska’s growing fiscal crisis.”

Governor Bill Walker said in a prepared statement, “I congratulate all newly elected and re-elected state legislators. My team and I look forward to working with the 30th Alaska State Legislature on passing a complete fiscal plan. Alaskans spoke clearly and loudly in both the primary and general elections: we need a solution to the state’s fiscal crisis. Alaska’s future is worth it.”


Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Alaska House Majority

Alaska Senate Democrats

Alaska Senate Republicans

Office of Governor Bill Walker



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