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

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of July 3

Here’s what to expect this week.

Western blackheaded budworm out to lunch on Southeast Alaska Hemlock trees. Courtesy Photo / Forest Service Alaska Region.
The defoliator coming to a forest near you

Tongass National Forest visitors can help document western blackheaded budworms’ impact.

A Juneau Police Department community service officer vehicle cordons off a road as officers took a man wanted on a $50,000 warrant into custody. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Police arrest wanted man following armed standoff

A shot was fired by the suspect, but no one was injured.

Alaska State Troopers are helping to investigate a fatal fireworks-related accident that occurred in Gustavus early on July 5, 2022. (Juneau Empire File)
Troopers investigate fireworks-related death in Gustavus

The casualty occurred early Tuesday morning.

A very young oystercatcher chick waits for a parent.  (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Oystercatchers, pinesap and spittlebugs

At the mouth of Cowee Creek, sometime in mid-June, we’d found a… Continue reading

Mia Halloway (6) grabs a cotton candy with her dad in Savikko Park. A long string of kids stood in line to grab a cotton candy from the Twhrly Whrliy Cotton Candy stand on a bright and sunny Fourth of July afternoon. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Fun and sun mark holiday in Douglas

Hot dogs and panting pups present for festivities.

Rachel Hurst hands her son Benjamin, 4, a beach ball to throw to the crowd from the Hawaiian-themed Juneau Urgent Care float during the July 4 parade in downtown Juneau. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau, the state of the union is festive

Melting pot of states, cultures and colors join in healthy unity for July 4 parade in unique times.

A Coast Guard aircrew and a Good Samaritan vessel rescued four mariners after their boat capsized in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, July 1, 2022. (Courtesy photo / USCG)
Good Samaritans rescue 4 after boat capsizes

The boat sank in Glacier Bay National Park.

Most Read