It’s the first day of the new Legislature and while the Senate was able to organize and unanimously elected Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, as Senate President, the House adjourned abruptly without electing leadership.
The first vote of the session met an even 20-20 spit between Republicans and Democrats and nonpartisans. Rep. Delena Johnson, R-Palmer, nominated Fairbanks Republican Bart Lebon as House Speaker pro-tempore, a temporary position until leadership can be elected, but that vote failed in an even split.
Rather than debate the issue on the floor, Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, called for the House to adjourn until Wednesday at 10. a.m.
After a long delay, Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer begins the proceedings in the Senate. Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, began with an invocation cited the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. whose birthday was celebrated Monday. Micciche emphasized King’s focus on peaceful resistance and said that violence would only create more violence.
After administering the oath of office, Meyer opened the floor. Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, nominated Micciche as Senate President. He was unanimously confirmed. Without much other business, the Senate adjourns.
In a statement, Senate Republicans announced they had organized a majority and selected a leadership team. Senate Majority Leader will be Shelley Hughes; Senate Majority Whip: Mia Costello, R-Anchorage; Senate Rules chairman: Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak and Senate Finance co-chairs Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, and Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks.
Other members of the Senate Republican majority include: Roger Holland, Anchorage; Robert Myers, North Pole; Lora Reinbold, Eagle River, Josh Revak, Anchorage; Mike Shower, Wasilla; Natasha von Imhof, Anchorage and David Wilson, Wasilla.
The caucus is based upon a “Caucus of Equals” philosophy, the statements says, and recognized the diverse nature of the group and the districts throughout the state represented by the members.
“As Alaskans are aware, there are differences in this group,” the majority said in a joint statement. “Yet all members have agreed to a transparent and respectful organization that will work through this session’s tough decisions toward solutions best for all Alaskans.”
The bells have rung to call the House into session and lawmakers are filing in. Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer is back to oversee proceedings until at leadership is elected.
On the Senate side, the Democratic minority announced Sen. Tom Begich of Anchorage had been re-elected as minority leader.
Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky in her opening prayer also invoked MLK. Quoting from his 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Zulkosky urged her fellow members to remember that what they do goes beyond what happens in their own district.
Because of social distancing measures, Meyer administered oaths of office in small batches and it took some time swear in all 40 members of the House. Lawmakers are now filing back in.
In the first vote of the new session, to elect Rep. Bart Lebon as Speaker pro-tempore of the House, lawmakers found themselves deadlocked with a tie vote of 20-20.
Very abruptly, the House adjourned and will meet again tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.