House, Senate still not organized but talks underway - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, January 26, 2021
HomePoliticsHouse, Senate still not organized but talks underway

House, Senate still not organized but talks underway


With nine days before the Legislature convenes, Rep. Kelly Merrick of Eagle River has organized a Zoom meeting (via computer video) for House representatives from both sides of the aisle for Monday, 1-5 pm. It is designed so those who wish to be Speaker can make their presentations to the group.

The meeting is called “49 First, an honest conversation about the future of Alaska and how the House of Representatives can lead the way.” The rules say those participating must enable their cameras on their computer to be functioning, for security purposes. It’s not open to the public.

Normally, these kinds of organizational meetings are done in person and in secret, but due to COVID-19 and various travel and quarantine logistics, organizing the House and Senate have become even more difficult. Merrick’s approach is an effort to try something different.

Security for in-person organizational meetings is usually tight, but rarely water-tight; this meeting may end up with leaks to the media because of how easy it will be to record the proceedings or allow others to listen in.

Most legislators and their staff are now in Juneau and in their 10-day quarantine period, which means they can’t leave their homes, apartments, or hotel rooms, under the COVID safety rules established by the Legislative Council.

In the House, the Republican-Democrat split is basically 20-20, as Rep. Louise Stutes, a Republican from Kodiak, has decided to remain with the Democrats.

The current House Speaker is Rep. Bryce Edgmon, a Dillingham Democrat who is currently a registered undeclared. Not all Democrats are happy with continuing his leadership, however. Edgmon has been Speaker since 2017.

On the Republican side, many lawmakers and incoming lawmakers do not wish to caucus with Rep. David Eastman of Wasilla, which is part of the problem the Republicans face, since without him they are only 19 strong. Eastman is seen as too far right for many of the Republicans in the House. With the current split, some political observers believe a bipartisan caucus will emerge.

The 32nd Alaska Legislature convenes Jan. 19 in Juneau. Regular session ends 90 days later, on April 18.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Much as I’d like to see a conservative led House, it will likely be Republican led, but decidedly centrist. Gov Mike will struggle for his agenda the next two years also.

    • Governor Dunleavy has been struggling with “his” agenda from day one. Confusing and conflicting goals, inadequate communication, a failure to vet key appointments, coupled with inadequate administrative technique have plagued this administration from day one. What is likely to change? There are plenty of issues and problems with the legislative branch these days but most of Governor Dunleavy’s problems are of his own making. In a situation where the legislative branch is in chaos and unorganized, the chief executive should be able to set and control the agenda. Instead, the governor is squandering his political capital, calling for increased size of government (creating new departments, etc.), and pursuing loser lawsuits that go against what President Trump has decided.
      Oh well …………….

  • So long as Bryce aka “I’ll fire him if he doesn’t change” Edgmon is out.

  • Keep the gavel far away from that Edgmon. He’s pure trouble.

  • Last time the problem of the caucus was laid on Davids feet. Now, it is RINO’s that don’t want to work with him? Gee wonder who that may be?
    That said, Cathy Tilton for Speaker! God help us!

    • So, what is your proposal? David Eastman as Speaker?

  • So, what is your proposal? David Eastman as Speaker?

  • Doesn’t really matter. We’re screwed no matter how they set up.

  • I can understand the organization problem with the House of Representatives, but what is the reason that the Senate can not organize? Republicans hold 13 of 20 seats, I am very disappointed in our Legislature. I expect another two years like the last two, and I am hoping that it will not be worse.

  • I believe, unfortunately that the democrats will control the house. I see 2 possibly 3 more Republicans crossing over to form a coalition. If that happens, goodbye PFD hello taxes. Which is unfortunate.

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