After two and a half days without any appointed leadership, the Alaska House of Representatives finally has a leader — temporarily, at least.
Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome, was voted in 35-4 as Speaker of the House Pro Tempore.
Before Foster’s nomination, Rep. Dave Talerico, R-Healy, nominated Big Lake Republican Rep. Mark Neuman to be temporary Speaker of the House. That nomination failed 19 -20.
Typically, a temporary House speaker is chosen on the first day of session after representatives are sworn in. But with no clear majority caucus and no temporary speaker, the House had not been able to accomplish any official business since the first day of legislative session Tuesday.
As his first order of business, Foster swore in gubernatorial appointee Sharon Jackson, R-Eagle River, as the new representative for House District 13 which covers Chugiak, a motion that was unable to occur earlier due to the lack of leadership. Two Republican representatives, David Eastman of Wasilla and Josh Revak of Anchorage, attempted to have Jackson sworn into office Wednesday by a deputy court clerk, however many questioned whether that ceremony was legal or valid.
Jackson received a standing ovation when she was sworn in by Foster Thursday. She was chosen by Gov. Mike Dunleavy in December to replace Nancy Dahlstrom, who is the new commissioner of the Department of Corrections.
Now that Foster is temporary speaker, he said he is hopeful the House can appoint a permanent speaker and get organized with the rest of its leadership team.
As it stands now, it is still unclear whether the House is procedurally allowed to invite the Senate to hear Dunleavy’s upcoming State of the State address. The annual address is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m.
• Contact reporter Kevin Baird at 523-2258.