Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 but a clear majority still hasn’t formed in the body. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021 but a clear majority still hasn’t formed in the body. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Update: Deadlock ends, state House selects a speaker

Kodiak Republican is part of coalition caucus

This story has been updated to include new information.

After 18 days of deadlock, the Alaska House of Representatives elected Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, as speaker of the house.

Stutes is a Republican, but previously caucused with a bipartisan majority. Prior to the session’s start, she had committed to doing the same this year. She had been the lone Republican in a group of 16 Democrats and three independents who’ve been referring to themselves as the House Coalition.

Taking the speaker’s seat, Stutes said she looked forward to bring the body together.

“We all need to walk down the same side of the street,” she said. “Thank you for the confidence you’ve put in me.”

The House adjourned until Friday morning. The next step in organization is committee assignments.

Stutes was voted into the presiding officer role by a single vote.

Rep. Kelly Merrick, R-Eagle River, cast her vote for Stutes breaking what had been a 20-20 deadlock. Many votes in the House require only a simple majority but many, including appropriations, require higher thresholds.

[Senators wait ‘patiently’]

In a statement shared shortly after the vote, Merrick said she was not joining the 20-member, bipartisan House Coalition but was frustrated by the deadlock. Stutes, a fellow Republican, has worked across party lines in the Legislature for years, Merrick said.

“I have been frustrated by taking the same fruitless votes day after day and I felt we could no longer afford to delay extending the Governor’s emergency disaster declaration, crafting a fiscally conservative budget, and passing the construction jobs bill,” Merrick said.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of June 26

Here’s what to expect this week.

Courtesy Photo / Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy 
Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday signed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Gov. Dunleavy signs budget

PFD of about $3,200, $400 million in vetoes to Legislature-approved items among declared highlights

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 29, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The Alaska Department of Health And Social Services building in Juneau has no visible signs indicating the department is splitting into two agencies as of Friday. Top officials at the department said many of the changes, both physical and in services, are likely weeks and in some cases months away. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Little sign of big change for DHSS

No commissioner at new department, other Dept. of Health and Social Services changes may take months

Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, 320 W. Willoughby Ave., will be open as a cooling center through Wednesday for elders who need a cool place during the ongoing heatwave. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Tlingit and Haida opens cooling center for elders

Keep your cool during the heatwave.

An Alaska Seaplanes Cessna 208A, seen here on the tarmac, suffered damage after failing to achieve takeoff near Elfin Cove on Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Courtesy photo / Alaska Seaplanes)
No one hurt after plane’s takeoff goes awry

The aircraft failed to achieve take off and hit the beach while leaving Elfin Cove.

A 13-year-old girl was medevaced Saturday after being struck by a vehicle near the crosswalk across Egan Drive by Gold Creek. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Teen in serious condition after SUV strikes bike

Juneau Police Department is investigating.

The Norwegian Sun sat moored in Juneau on Monday after striking striking ice Saturday afternoon near Yakutat Bay on its way to Skagway. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Update: Cruise ship that struck iceberg departs Juneau

It’s heading to Seattle for repairs.

Molly Smith directs Brad Oscar and the cast of Damn Yankees in 2005 at Arena Stage. (Courtesy Photo / Arena Stage)
Americana exceptionalism: Perseverance Theatre founder Molly Smith to retire from Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

Perseverance Theatre founder Molly Smith retiring at Arena Stage after 25 years in Washington, D.C.

Most Read