A scheduled floor session of the Alaska House of Representatives was canceled Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, following a positive COVID-19 case in the body and close contacts among roughly half the members. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

A scheduled floor session of the Alaska House of Representatives was canceled Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, following a positive COVID-19 case in the body and close contacts among roughly half the members. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Positive COVID test leads to canceled House floor session

Leaders say sessions will resume following contact tracing

The Alaska House of Representatives held a technical floor session Wednesday after “a large portion” of members were exposed to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, according to a statement from the speaker’s office.

House Majority Coalition spokesperson Joe Plesha said Tuesday roughly half the members of the House were in close contact with a positive case.

“It is still being determined who has to quarantine based on their vaccination status,” Plesha said in a text message.

House committee meetings were still held and only the House Judiciary Committee was canceled.

In an email, Konrad Jackson, staff to Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said he was unaware of any Senators isolating due to close contact. The Senate held its scheduled floor meeting Wednesday and all 20 members were present.

The House was set to debate whether to take action against Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, over his membership in the Oath Keepers, a right-wing paramilitary organization whose leaders have been charged with seditious conspiracy for their role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

[Bill seeks to strengthen civics education]

Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, said a member of the House had tested positive and contract tracing was being conducted.

“Right now our concern is keeping our members safe,” Edgmon said.

A floor session would be scheduled, “ once we know it’s safe,” Edgmon said.

Edgmon said the cancellation was not due to the majority lacking the 21 votes necessary to take action against Eastman. The situation concerning Eastman was “serious,” Edgmon said, and the House Majority Coalition was taking a deliberate approach to the matter.

Edgmon said at least one House member had tested positive but declined to name the person, citing privacy rules. House leadership decided to err on the side of caution, Edgmon said, but it could be expected there would be a floor session on Friday.

Edgmon said it was likely more members would test positive throughout the session but wasn’t concerned about work being stalled as members can still attend committee meetings remotely. Floor sessions must still be held in person, and Edgmon said in addition to the security concerns about holding floor sessions remotely, he didn’t believe there were the two-thirds votes in the body necessary to approve that move.

Rep. Sara Rasmussen, R-Anchorage, said on Facebook Monday she tested positive for COVID-19 while at home in Anchorage. Rasmussen has been attending meetings remotely.

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

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October of 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for t​​he Week of April 22

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, April 21, 2024

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

The “Newtok Mothers” assembled as a panel at the Arctic Encounter Symposium on April 11 discuss the progress and challenges as village residents move from the eroding and thawing old site to a new village site called Mertarvik. Photographs showing deteriorating conditions in Newtok are displayed on a screen as the women speak at the event, held at Anchorage’s Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Relocation of eroding Alaska Native village seen as a test case for other threatened communities

Newtok-to-Mertarvik transformation has been decades in the making.

Bailey Woolfstead, right, and her companion Garrett Dunbar examine the selection of ceramic and wood dishes on display at the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser on behalf of the Glory Hall at Centennial Hall on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empty Bowls provides a full helping of fundraising for the Glory Hall

Annual soup event returns to Centennial Hall as need for homeless shelter’s services keeps growing.

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon and her husband Greg. (Photo courtesy of the City and Borough of Juneau)
Greg Weldon, husband of Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon, killed in motorcycle accident Sunday morning

Accident occurred in Arizona while auto parts store co-owner was on road trip with friend

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, April 20, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 19, 2024

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

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 18, 2024

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

Delegates offer prayers during the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s 89th Annual Tribal Assembly on Thursday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Muriel Reid / Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
Tribal Assembly declares crisis with fentanyl and other deadly drugs its highest priority

Delegates at 89th annual event also expand foster program, accept Portland as new tribal community.

Most Read