House Republicans organize: Talerico is House speaker

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The House Republican majority announced the basic leadership members of its caucus today, starting with Speaker Dave Talerico. The caucus is 21 strong at this point, although it may not be complete.

Speaker: Dave Talerico, Healy

Rules Chair: Cathy Tilton, Chugiak

Majority Leader: Chuck Kopp, Anchorage

Finance Co-Chairs: Lance Pruitt, Anchorage, and Tammie Wilson, North Pole. Wilson will have the operating budget, and Pruitt will manage the capital budget.

The caucus involves all Republicans with the exception of Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux of District 15 and possibly Rep. Louise Stutes of Kodiak. Talerico said that he had extended an invitation to Stutes but had not received a response.

LeDoux was not invited likely because she isn’t seen as trustworthy by her colleagues.

Rep. David Eastman, District 11, was included in the caucus even though he has often been at odds with his fellow Republicans. He did not appear during the press conference, however.

As of today, Rep. Daniel Ortiz of Ketchikan has not been invited to be part of the majority caucus, and neither has Neal Foster or Bryce Edgmon, according to Talerico.

Whether it’s a “binding caucus” is still an outstanding question. “We’re a caucus in construction,” Talerico said. A binding caucus usually means that members vote together on the final budget. Controlling spending is the one area that all the Republicans agree on, Talerico said.

The brief press conference was attended by about 20 members of the press as well as staffers from legislators’ offices and a couple of lobbyists.