Members of the Alaska House minority raised procedural objections Monday morning as the body prepared a formal complaint in response to the federal government’s cancellation of oil and gas lease sales in the Arctic Ocean.
Rep. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage and the House Minority Leader, said it was inappropriate to consider a joint resolution covering Arctic drilling during a special session with a defined agenda.
“At this time, I believe it’s outside the subject matter,” he said.
The objection was raised during a brief House floor session on Monday and came as Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, was referring the draft resolution to the House Resources Committee.
After the floor session, Tuck said the issue wasn’t about the text of the resolution — which he said he had not read — but that it was being brought up during a special session called by the governor to address a specific topic.
Rep. Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage, said to veer off the governor’s agenda set a “dangerous precedent.”
Because a joint resolution is not binding legislation — it is a Legislature-backed statement, a glorified letter of complaint or praise — it is closer to the special orders and notes legislators enter into their record of business even during a special session.
After Gruenberg and Tuck spoke, Chenault ruled the resolution in order, and the House voted 26-12 along majority/minority lines in support of Chenault’s ruling. The majority is largely Republican, while the minority is primarily Democratic.
House Joint Resolution 301 has not yet been scheduled for a hearing in the House Resources Committee.
The resolution’s companion bill, Senate Joint Resolution 301, has cleared the Senate Resources Committee and is scheduled for a vote Tuesday morning.