Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, speaks during a House of Representatives floor session on Tuesday. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, speaks during a House of Representatives floor session on Tuesday. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Local lawmakers hoping for bipartisan, strong majority

Andi Story, Sara Hannan still unable to introduce legislation

As the members of the House of Representatives took the floor Tuesday morning, there was a buzz in the room. Many thought the representatives would finally elect a Speaker of the House after nearly a month of session.

It didn’t happen.

With no House organization, new Juneau Reps. Sara Hannan and Andi Story are still without a chance to join committees or introduce legislation. In an interview shortly after Tuesday’s session, Story said she was optimistic the House would find a way to organize soon.

“I think there was some anticipation in a lot of the room to see what was going to happen,” Story said, “and then the result, ‘Well, this wasn’t it, so let’s keep on talking.’ We know it’s important, so I hope it’s coming soon.”

There were two votes on the floor Tuesday for a Speaker — one for Rep. Dave Talerico, R-Healy, and one for Rep. Gary Knopp, R-Kenai — and both votes were locked at 20-20. Hannan and Story, both Democrats, voted against Talerico and for Knopp.

Story said Tuesday that she hopes the majority that forms ends up being a bipartisan one. Hannan was in meetings all day Tuesday after the floor session and wasn’t free for an interview, but wrote in a recent editorial that appeared in the Empire that she’d like to see a majority that’s more than just 21 members.

“The people’s business is not served by a weak majority that must bend to the will of a single member,” Hannan wrote. “We need a majority that will last.”

Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, claps as she introduces a guest during a House of Representatives floor session on Tuesday. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, claps as she introduces a guest during a House of Representatives floor session on Tuesday. (Alex McCarthy | Juneau Empire)

Part of the reason for the lack of organization is that it’s taken nearly a month of session for lawmakers to get a look at Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget, Story said. The budget proposal, which is expected to include major cuts in state spending, is being released Wednesday.

“This has been a highly unusual session, everyone tells me,” Story said. “They say … since the governor’s budget doesn’t come out until February, I don’t think that’s helped spur us on to be organizing in a way, because we know that this is coming.”

[Legislators brace for unknowns of Dunleavy’s budget]

This standstill is not all bad, Story said. This time has given the representatives a chance to get to know each other, and has helped the new members of the House have time to get their feet wet.

“There’s really a good feeling inside the House,” Story said. “A lot of the freshmen, we’ve spent a lot of time together, so that’s going to help on issues. We’ve had time to visit more than, say, if we were all on committees.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024

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

Alexei Painter, director of Alaska’s Legislative Finance Division, presents an update of the state’s budget situation for the coming year to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Analysis: Balanced state budget next year can include a $1,535 PFD and $680 BSA increase

However, a “statutory” $3,688 PFD would result in a deficit of more than $1.2 billion, report says.

The Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development at its meeting Wednesday in Juneau. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska’s education board sends a $500M wish list for construction and maintenance to lawmakers

The state’s Board of Education and Early Development approved a priority list… Continue reading

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

(Getty Images)
Alaska Republicans head to the polls Tuesday with Trump, Haley and Ramaswamy on the ballot

On Super Tuesday, March 5, Alaska Republicans will join their counterparts in… Continue reading

Rep. Kevin McCabe, R-Big Lake, speaks March 20, 2023, on the floor of the Alaska House. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Proposal to define a fetus as a person in Alaska’s criminal code faces pushback

Opponents testified that the bill would threaten Alaskans’ abortion rights

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks Monday, May 8, 2023, on the floor of the Alaska House. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House approves bigger merit scholarship for in-state high school students

The Alaska House of Representatives voted on Monday without opposition to raise… Continue reading

Most Read