The Alaska Senate was able to organize and elect a presiding officer on the first day of the new legislative session on Tuesday, unanimously voting in Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, as senate president.
“You might note that the Senate is ready for business on Day 1,” Micciche said.
In the other chamber, the Alaska House of Representatives failed to elect a speaker pro tempore following a 20-20 vote.
In a statement, Senate Republicans announced they had organized a majority and selected a leadership team. Senate Majority Leader will be Sen. Shelley Hughes; Senate Majority Whip Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage; Senate Rules chairman Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak; and Senate Finance co-chairs Sens. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka; and Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks.
Other members of the Senate Republican majority include: Sens. Roger Holland, Anchorage; Robert Myers, North Pole; Lora Reinbold, Eagle River, Josh Revak, Anchorage; Mike Shower, Wasilla; Natasha von Imhof, Anchorage; and David Wilson, Wasilla.
The caucus is based upon a “Caucus of Equals” philosophy, the statements says, and recognized the diverse nature of the group and the districts throughout the state represented by the members.
“As Alaskans are aware, there are differences in this group,” the majority said in a joint statement. “Yet all members have agreed to a transparent and respectful organization that will work through this session’s tough decisions toward solutions best for all Alaskans.”
Senate Democrats reelected Anchorage Sen. Tom Begich as Minority Leader, according to a statement from the caucus.
“We had many conversations with Republican members of the Senate, but unfortunately, some of those members will not put party politics aside in favor of working with Democrats in a bipartisan fashion for an Alaska agenda that seeks to help all of us recover from the difficulties of this past year,” Begich said in a statement.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Begich declined to say which members he was referring to. He said the nation has been “riven by partisan politics” and said the Alaska Senate could have set an example by forming a bipartisan majority coalition, according to AP.
Now that a leadership has been elected, committee assignments can be given and legislative work can begin for the Senate. Both caucuses said in their statements those assignments were forthcoming.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.