House caucuses continue to vie for a majority, and aside from caucus leaders, most representatives are not speaking on the issue. A House majority must be formed in order to elect a permanent Speaker of the House, make committee assignments and conduct legislative business.
Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, was leader of the mostly-Democrat House Majority Coalition during the 30th Legislative Session. He remains leader of the majority coalition caucus. He was not available for questions on Friday, but he did release a written statement Friday afternoon.
“Both sides in the House are continuing to work hard to form a majority organization so that immediate action can be taken on the governor’s budget when it is released on February 13,” the statement reads.
Rep. Dave Talerico, a Republican from Healy, was tagged by House Republicans to be speaker of the House shortly after the election. He held a press conference Friday afternoon in an attempt to assure Alaskans the House is still working toward a majority. He could not make an estimate on when a House majority would form, but it’s not likely to happen this weekend.
Even with precious time being burned up, Talerico remains positive they can end the session in time. The House is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. Monday.
Read our full story here: 11 days, and still no House leadership
— Kevin Baird
Members of the Alaska House Coalition released a series of statements Friday in response to the language and content of Art Chance’s social media posts.
Juneau Rep. Andi Story, a Democrat, weighed in.
“I want to see our governor succeed and agree he should be free to staff his administration as he sees fit,” Story said in the release. “However, the offensive behavior of this advisor would have dragged down the governor and his agenda. Thankfully, Mr. Chance realized this fact and stepped down.”
Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, D-Bethel, issued a particularly personal response.
“As a Yup’ik woman from rural Alaska, this is especially important because Alaska Native women are 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other Alaska women,” Zulkosky said. “We cannot prevent interpersonal violence by just addressing criminal penalties, we must also change our environment and expectations about what is acceptable. Removing Art Chance from state government will not solve these problems, but it demonstrates clearly to Alaskans that these kinds of threats are taken seriously.”
Reps. Harriet Drummond and Ivy Spohnholz, both Anchorage Democrats, added their thoughts as well. Both of them expressed disappointment in Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who selected Chance for a policy advisor position in the Department of Administration.
“In reviewing his social media posts and comments, this man has actually threatened to sexually assault the wives and girlfriends of those he disagreed with on political issues,” Drummond said in the release. “This is outrageous, and I was disappointed to learn that the governor was willing to overlook this behavior and elevate an internet troll to such an important job in his administration.”
— Alex McCarthy
Art Chance declined an offer to join the Dunleavy administration as a policy advisor within the Department of Administration on Thursday evening, according to a release from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office. Chance was a former director of the Alaska Division of Labor Relations.
Chance ignited outrage from some Alaskans earlier this week as his Facebook activity came to light. Some of his posts contained crude language and insults directed at women, minorities and people he disagreed with.
Dunleavy was asked late Thursday evening to comment on the matter.
“This decision is for the best,” Dunleavy said, according to the release.
— Kevin Baird
The Alaska House held a short session Friday morning. No official business was conducted, but plenty of guests were introduced before the House adjourned for the weekend.
That brings the House 11 days into the 31st Legislative Session with no organization, no permanent presiding officer, nor is there any committee organization. Until a majority caucus is formed, the House will not be able to conduct much in the way of business.
— Kevin Baird
It’s another packed day at the Capitol. We’re starting off with a presentation at the Senate Finance Committee from Angela Rodell, the chief executive officer of the Alaska Permanent Fund, about the state of the fund and what might be next for the PFD.
At 10 a.m., the House is supposed to be having a floor session. We’ll see if that results in any organization or steps toward electing a speaker. At 10:30 a.m., the Senate is having a floor session.
Yesterday was a wild day here, as John Quick — Dunleavy’s choice for commissioner of the Department of Administration — resigned after accusations of lying on his resume and to the Senate. Read our full story on that here: Commissioner designee resigns after accusations of false resume entry.
— Alex McCarthy