Alaska state House announces organization with Chenault on top, again

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:

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.


23 thoughts on “Alaska state House announces organization with Chenault on top, again

  1. Amy Carroll

    To the many people at work and around town who have asked if the above comment is mine: NO. It’s someone else with the same name.

    Amy Carroll (from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Juneau Alaska)

  2. Same on You

    If you feel so strongly that there is such brain power on the finance comm than in the White House, then in turn YOU should have run for the White House and put money where your mouth is.

  3. Tom Bodett

    Juneau has become the place where out elected leaders go to party it up and not really get much done or take serious issues seriously. In my opinion, no amount of technology will change the fact that there are more bars per one square mile in downtown Juneau, within walking distance of the capitol, than anywhere else in the state. Every year you hear of some elected officials cheating on their spouses with other elected officials, and then there are the random day drinking Senators that can’t make it to important hearings. It is getting worse and no one is held accountable.

  4. Crude is Rude - Gas is gold

    Today there are two headlines on the front page of the NewsMiner;

    “”Fairbanks assembly fumes at state’s lack of progress on air quality fix””

    “”Interior Alaska natural gas trucking plan faces timing, cost hurdles””

    Over the past 40 years the AK-Legislature has accomplished NOTHING about providing a comprehensive resolution to solve the air-pollution & energy-crisis in the Interior and many other places in Alaska outside Anchorage..
    ..this is unconscionable.
    …and if not unconscionable, then CRIMINAL if you have trouble with big words in English.

    Click on my nickname above for a link to IMHO the quickest first step to resolving this problem..
    ..ultimately, building a statewide state-owned gas delivery infrastructure is the best way to make FAIR-USE of our resources for equal access to ALL Alaskans, not just a monopoly pipe for a few greedy Alaskans.

    …GAS has a tendency to pay for itself as you grow the delivery network, if you don’t build it backwards first >>> now get this, building a megabillion megapipe first is the backwards way to do it.

    Does it make sense to focus on a collapsing Asian market first when if we sold gas to ourselves in Fairbanks we would make twice as much direct profit, and 10 times as much indirect profit ??

    It’s time to drop the misleading canard; “Economy of Scale”.
    Little flexpipe gaslines are much better for Alaska.
    eg; a little 100mile 4″ 300psi “yellow-pipe” plastic gasline from Gubik to Anaktuvuk Pass.
    This little pipe would pay for itself within 2-3 years.

    The little fiberspar gasline from Nikolaevsk to Anchor Point has likely already paid for itself.

  5. Amy Carroll

    Mr Fellow, (Mr, Miss, such politeness!) since you are a courteous person, I will let you in on the secret. the “m” stands for moron.

    By the way, if you have a conversation with Rep Wilson about a post-petroleum economy in Alaska, I hope you report it on this blog. Her thoughts might be instructive in ending our debate here about her intellectual capacity.

  6. AH HA

    Tom, I’m a Juneauite and I can assure you the machinations are not transparent from this perspective either.

    I will tell you this, there are many folks here who would not mind seeing the capitol move to anywhere else. Just a friendly warning: there is a big downside to having the capitol, where ever you move it will almost instantly become the center of gravity for the left. (imagine a Wasilla that votes far left) Also, if you want the capitol, you should start selling your four wheeler’s, snow machines, RV’s, Hunting Rifles and even that F250 really ought to go.

    With the capitol you get an influx of those ultra green lefties and they will quickly close all trails to motorized traffic and strictly limit all hunting activities. Trapping will be essentially against the law and they are going to insist you drive around on one of those semi-electric roller skates.

    You can have it if you want. Just remember, I’ll be in the market for four wheelers, snow machines hunting rifles and traps.

  7. Lynn Willis

    Demanding they follow their own rules is not a radical idea yet some would argue that ending this assumed defact veto power by individual legisaltors would destroy “caucus discipline”.
    At $70 to $80/bbl oil and/or declining oil reserves we won’t be able to ever move the Capitol. My compromise would have been to move the legislature to the rail belt at least every other year (and let Juneau remain being the Capital). Now I doubt if we should fund even that idea to conserve our cash reserves as best we can.
    I would rely on technology to compensate for distance. If we can afford to spend another million on a couple of additional Knik Bridge studies than we should be able to afford to improve citizen access to their Government. Have you ever used the primitive POM system? Have you ever had to travel to the LIO then use a speaker-phone to testify to a Committee with no ability to see the committee members? Ever tried to submit written testimony as an attachment to an email and see it never appear in the hearing document file because some legislative assistance couldn’t figure out how to post your attachment to the official record?
    Now we face a serious (albeit self inflicted) fiscal crisis so I wouldn’t look for the legislature to worry about citizen access. A signficant step would be to follow their own rules and end the legisaltive exemption from the state open meeting laws.

  8. david nees

    Interestingly, Dunleavy replaces Stevens in Senate Education whil while Gattis loses House Education chair.

  9. Tom Bodett

    If you want more transparency in our state government, then perhaps now would be a good time to push for the capitol to be moved to a location where more Alaskans can have direct access to their government. Just a thought, but many Alaskans, such as myself, believe moving the capitol would bring our government out of the shadows and make it more open and honest.

  10. Lynn Willis

    Congratulations to the new committee chairs. Perhaps their greatest power is the power to refuse to hold hearings on bills with the motive for doing so kept secret. Before this new group begins the time honored tradition of refusing to hold hearings on legislation for reasons we will never know, I would remind them of their own rules which demand a hearing on bills of referral:

    “A committee acts on all bills referred to it and reports its actions and recommendations to the house as soon as practicable. Committee reports must be in writing and the report must be signed by a majority of the members of the committee. The report will note the recommendation of each member signing the report.”

    I understand how following that rule would create an open government and I am also now aware of how some perceive a threat to Alaskans by allowing public access to the process and their belief in the benefit of closed door and secretive legislative practices.

  11. Garand Fellow

    Then perhaps you should have run for office. In any event there is more brain power in the House Finance Committee than there is in the White House. No one could look at the output and resumes to make the case that is not true.

  12. Garand Fellow

    Ms. Carroll,

    I strongly disagree. We may be from different generations as I don’t know what the “M word” is. However, Representative Wilson is a thoughtful, reasonable person. Alaska is headed into unprecedented fiscal dislocation at the levels of state and municipal government, and I believe Wilson will be a leader in figuring out what sort of post-petroleum economy Alaska will have.

  13. Amy Carroll

    Really? Tammie Wilson? One only has to speak with her for a few minutes before it is clear that she is absolutely vacant. She is a motor mouth who says nothing. The only reason she wins elections is she is a hard worker. She knocks on every door in her districts at least once. Rep Wilson brings no intelligence to her job at all. I would use the “M” word, but that would be unkind.

  14. Its a Blog

    See the “About” page for this site. It clearly states this is a a blog. From the dictionary:
    [short for Weblog] (1999) : a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.

    While the writer of this blog is a well known reporter, this is a blog. If you want to heckle a reporter for opining while delivering news, perhaps you should go to a news site. You may disagree with her “comments” but telling her how to put sideboards on her blog comments seems a little over the top. Having said that, one could argue that you have made a valid point about how close the race is and the outstanding votes left to be counted. I suspect Ms. Coyne is drawing on her past experience of covering elections where in most cases, absentee ballots usually fall the same way as ballots that were cast on Election Day. Cheers

  15. Anonymous

    Amanda, how can you say that it looks like “an inevitability” that Walker would win? The absentee votes haven’t been counted yet. Please leave your personal bias out of your reporting. Thank you.

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