Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, seen here sitting in the Speaker's chair in the Alaska House of Representatives chamber on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, presided over yet another House session where lawmakers failed to organize. Feb. 1, marked the third straight week of deadlock in the House. Lawmakers will meet again Tuesday morning. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

House remains deadlocked. Here’s what that means for future legislation

With no organization, less time for legislation

For the third week in a row, the Alaska House of Representatives failed to organize a leadership, extending the deadlock until at least Tuesday morning when members meet again.

Rep. Bart LeBon, R-Fairbanks, nominated Rep. Laddie Shaw, R-Anchorage, for the temporary position of speaker pro tem of the House. That vote, like all the others in the House this session, ended in a 20-20 deadlock between Republicans and a coalition of Democrats, independents and one Republican.

Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer is still presiding over the House until a temporary speaker is chosen.

As the deadlock in the House drags on Senators are wasting no time in getting to their side of legislative work with multiple committee meetings taking place daily.

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to meet every day at 9 a.m. this week to get a better picture of the state’s revenues. Throughout the week that committee will hear presentations from Office of Management and Budget Director Neil Steininger, Legislative Finance Director Alexei Painter and on Thursday CEO of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation Angela Rodell.

The Senate held a technical session Monday morning, meaning only just enough lawmakers to set the body’s next meeting for Wednesday at 11 a.m. were present.

[Security or suppression? Bill would change how Alaskans vote]

But there’s only so long Senate work can continue before legislation needs to be passed over to the other body.

“Five weeks,” said state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau. “If they don’t have committee chairs and aren’t able to start flowing budget bills by the second week of March it’s going to be really tough to make things work.”

According to legislative rules, unless special exception is given bills have to be referred to committees and given a five-day notice before their first public hearing. Less time for committees to hear bills means fewer bills will actually make it to the floor for a vote, Kiehl said. The Legislature adjourned early last year when the coronavirus pandemic first hit, and lawmakers passed only a budget and other essential bills, meaning lawmakers will have their own bills from last session they’ll want to see move forward.

“A lot of legislators lost their personal bills (last year) and are not interested in losing the opportunity this year,” Kiehl said.

Members were still doing legislative work, Kiehl said, but were not able to do things like take public testimony on their bills. Still, the longer the House takes to organize, Kiehl said, the less time there will be for refinement and discussion of bills. Kiehl said he’s confident once the House is organized members will be able to get to legislative work.

“Once they get gavels in hands I think they’ll be ready to go like a rocket ship,” Kiehl said.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Feb. 5

Chunks of ice break off the Perito Moreno Glacier, in Lake Argentina, at Los Glaciares National Park, near El Calafate, in Argentina's Patagonia region, March 10, 2016. As glaciers melt and pour massive amounts of water into nearby lakes, 15 million people across the globe live under the threat of a sudden and deadly outburst flood, a new study finds. (AP Photo / Francisco Munoz)
Study: 15 million people live under threat of glacial floods

More than half of those are in just four countries: India, Pakistan, Peru and China.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File 
A porcupine dines in mid-August near the Mendnehall Glacier.
On the Trails: Putting a finer point on porcupines

Plants such as roses and devil’s club aren’t the only prickly ones…

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature in the House chambers on Tuesday. The Republican senator, appearing on the same day as Democratic President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech (and thus absent from it), criticized the administration on issues ranging from drugs to opposing resource development in Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sullivan applauds, denounces feds in speech to Legislature

Senator praises ferry funds and monitoring of China’s balloon, fears Biden limiting oil project.

Members of the Juneau Police Department pose for a group photo during the annual JPD awards ceremony on Monday. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
JPD honors officers in annual award ceremony

The late Chief Pat Wellington presented with legislative memoriam.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Edward Richards, left, a high school student in the Sitka School District, talks about the lack of mental health services in Alaska’s public schools as part of the testimony also offered by district Superintendent Frank Hauser, center, and student Felix Myers during a Senate Education Meeting on Monday at the Alaska State Capitol. The committee is proposing a 17% increase in the state’s school funding formula, which was remained essentially flat since 2017.
School’s in at the Capitol

Students and education leaders from around state make case for more classroom cash.

Folks at the Alaska State Capitol openly admit to plenty of fish tales, but to a large degree in ways intended to benefit residents and sometimes even the fish. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The bizarre bills other state legislatures are considering

Alaska’s Legislature isn’t mulling the headline-grabbers some statehouses have in the works.

Most Read