Yesterday, after only two or hours behind closed doors, the Alaska state Senate Majority announced its leadership lineup and some of its committee chairs, a structure, I was told, that was decided by “consensus.” Today, the much more unruly House Majority spent at least eight hours behind closed doors to organize its structure, which is decided by secret ballot.
Any surprises? Not really. (See the press release below with a full list of leadership and committee assignments.) For weeks I’ve been hearing about various members lobbying for positions of power. There was great hope that the women were going to rise up and demand more than just one leadership positions, for instance. That didn’t happen. Rep. Charisse Millett is the only woman in leadership. However, women appear well represented as either chairs of powerful committees or as members of, such as Finance and Judiciary.
There was also talk of Rep. Tammie Wilson making a play for Speaker. If she did, she didn’t get it. She did, however, get a seat on Finance. The Speaker’s position went to Rep. Mike Chenault. It’ll be his fourth, record breaking term.
Also significant, particularly if Bill Walker wins the race (which is beginning to look like an inevitability), is that Rep. Mike Hawker will be chair of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee. In this capacity he’ll be the person that will be retaining the consultants to review and advise the Legislature on gas line issues. Remember, the bullet line is Hawker’s baby, one that Walker said that he wants to throw out, with or without the bathwater. Also, Hawker will oversee the financial and programmatic audits of state departments and agencies, including the governor’s office.
Also significant it this:
There are Zero Southeast Legislators of the 10 Leadership positions for Alaska House and Senate. In fact, all leadership is from rail belt.
— alaskapanhandlenews (@akpanhandlenews) November 7, 2014
Here’s the release in full:
Representative Mike Chenault was chosen by his fellow incoming House Majority Caucus members to serve as Speaker of the House for a record fourth term, during a meeting in Anchorage today. Caucus members also selected other key leadership positions, with all principle standing committee chairmanships announced.
“What an honor,” said Chenault, R-Nikiski. “The Speaker’s desk is a hallowed one, and I’ve enjoyed my time there. It’s a humbling feeling to get the backing of so many good people. We can continue to build a family atmosphere, honor the institution of the legislature, and the votes Alaskans entrusted us with Tuesday. Come January, Alaskans will see another solid group of legislators team-building and focused and ready to take on the operating budget, gasline updates, implementing the ballot initiatives and all the rest.”
Leadership members are:
Speaker – Chenault
Majority Leader – Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage
Rules Chair – Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage
Finance Co-Chair – Mark Neuman, R-Su-Valley (Operating Budget)
Finance Co-Chair – Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks (Capital Budget)
Majority Whip – Bob Herron, D-Bethel
“We are a diverse caucus of leaders from across the state,” said Millett. This is an opportunity to move Alaska forward on issues that unite our people. I am humbled by the support from my caucus and I am dedicated to a better Alaska.”
“I am really pleased with today’s outcome; let’s roll up our sleeves,” said Johnson, who served in the same position during the past legislature. “I look forward to working with our talented and diverse caucus, representing Alaskans from all areas and backgrounds, as we continue to advance a pro-development, pro-family and pro-jobs agenda that will lay a solid foundation for Alaska’s future.”
Finance members are: Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, Dan Saddler, R-JBER/Eagle River, Lynn Gattis, R-Wasilla, and, Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage.
“I look forward to working with this Majority and putting forward an economically sustainable budget,” said Neuman. “I’ll continue to focus on our major cost drivers, and securing responsible future development.”
“I very much feel honored to be able to represent Fairbanks and the people of Alaska as a Co-Chair of the House Finance Committee,” said Thompson. “I look forward to the gavel falling on the 29th Legislature. I know we’ll have less revenue, so it’ll take hard work and fiscal restraint on the capital budget, and I look forward to the challenge.”
Standing Committee chairs are:
Resources – Ben Nageak, D-Barrow & Dave Talerico, R-Interior Alaska
Judiciary – Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage
Labor & Commerce – Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna/Kenai
State Affairs – Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage
Community & Regional Affairs – Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla
Education – Wes Keller, R-Wasilla
Health & Social Services – Paul Seaton, R-Homer
Transportation – Neal Foster, D-Nome & Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer
Joint Committee chairs are:
Legislative Budget & Audit – Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, Chair (House control)
Legislative Council – Bob Herron, Vice-Chair (Senate control)
Select Committee on Ethics – Millett
Armed Services – Reinbold, Co-Chair
Administrative Regulation Review – Colver, Vice-Chair (Senate Control)
Special Committee chairs are:
Energy – Liz Vazquez, R-Anchorage & Jim Colver, R-Mat-Su
Fisheries – Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak
Military & Veterans Affairs – Herron
Further seats will be announced as filled, depending on the outcome of the general election, and full committee assignments will occur at a later time, during the Majority retreat in Juneau prior to Opening Day of the 29th Alaska Legislature.