Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, talks with legislators at his desk during an "at ease" in the House of Representatives at the Capitol on Monday.

Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, talks with legislators at his desk during an "at ease" in the House of Representatives at the Capitol on Monday.

House minority objects to Arctic drilling complaint

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.

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