Last updated at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10

House Forms New Bipartisan Coalition


The balance of power has tipped in the Alaska house of representatives following Tuesday’s election, and Democrats are now at the helm of a bipartisan coalition.

It started with a meeting Wednesday morning, and by mid-afternoon a group of 22 legislators from both sides of the aisle announced they will be leading the House of Representatives in Juneau.

Democrat Rep. Bryce Edgmon of Dillingham will take over as Speaker of the House. Rep. Chris Tuck will now be the new House Majority Leader, with Republican Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux serving as chair of the powerful rules committee.

The group says the organization is just a start and that its doors are still open to anyone else who wants to join.

The members of the new House Majority are dedicated to passing a legislative agenda that addresses the fiscal crisis and the root causes of the crisis,” Edgemon said Wednesday.

This is the first time there’s been a Democrat-led coalition in the House since 1992.

Gov. Bill Walker issued a statement Wednesday saying he’s looking forward to working on a budget plan with the newly elected lawmakers.

Now, the coalition has just enough members to be a majority in the House.

According to a press release by the House Majority, leadership roles include:

  • Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham) – Speaker of the House

  • Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage) – Chair of House Rules Committee

  • Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage) – Majority Leader

  • Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) – Co-Chair of House Finance Committee

  • Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome) – Co-Chair of House Finance Committee

  • Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) – Majority Whip

  • Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) – Vice-Chair of House Finance Committee

House Majority committee chair appointments were announced Thursday.

Standing Committee chairs:

  • Resources Co-Chairs – Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage)

  • Judiciary – Rep. Matt Claman (D-Anchorage)

  • Labor & Commerce – Rep. Sam Kito (D-Juneau)

  • State Affairs – Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka)

  • Community & Regional Affairs Co-Chairs – Rep. Zach Fansler (D-Bethel), Rep. Justin Parish (D-Juneau)

  • Education – Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage)

  • Health & Social Services – Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage)

  • Transportation Co-Chairs– Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak), Rep. Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks)

Joint Committee chairs:

  • Legislative Budget & Audit Vice-Chair – Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage)

  • Legislative Council – Rep. Sam Kito (D-Juneau)

  • Select Committee on Legislative Ethics – Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage)

  • Armed Services – House Co-Chair, Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks)

Special Committee chairs:

  • Energy – Rep. Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks)

  • Fisheries – Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak)

  • Military & Veterans Affairs – Rep. Jason Grenn (I-Anchorage)

  • Economic Development, Tourism, and Arctic Policy – Rep. Dean Westlake (D-Kotzebue)

The Alaska Republican Party quickly sent out a heated response to Wednesday’s announcement from the House.

“Because of your recent actions abandoning your team and joining with the House Democrats, we invite you to drop the pretense that you are Republican and leave the Republican Party,” the statement said.

Rep. Gabrielle Ledoux is one of just three Republicans in the group. When asked about the Republican Party’s letter, she said she’s not worried about pleasing the GOP.

“I’m not worried about it and the party gave me no campaign money to even be worried about, and so my allegiance is to my district and to the state of Alaska,” she said. “So a letter from the party chairman means almost nothing.”

The group said its top priority this session will be a long-term budget solution. Political science professor Forrest Nabors said in order for this type of a coalition to stay together, they are going to have to stick to that objective.

“The key in any negotiation is to keep the objective in mind, and in this circumstance, few issues we can little afford to have other issues get in the way of solving the budget crisis,” he explained.


Republican Senate Retains Majority

After Tuesday’s elections, the Republican majority — which held its ground in the Senate — quickly announced its new leadership organization for the next two years. Sen. Pete Kelly of Fairbanks will replace Sen. Kevin Meyer of Anchorage as Senate President, according to Daniel McDonald, a spokesperson for the Senate Majority.

Meyer will take over as chairman of the Rules Committee, which controls the movement of bills onto the Senate floor for a vote.

Sen. Peter Micciche of Soldotna will act as the Senate Majority Leader, while Sen. Anna MacKinnon of Eagle River will keep her seat as co-chair of the Finance Committee. Sen. Lyman Hoffman, a Democrat who caucuses with Republicans, will serve as the other co-chair of that committee.

According to a press release by the Senate Majority, committee chairs are as follows:

  • Health and Social Services – Senator-elect David Wilson (R-Wasilla)

  • Judiciary – Sen. John Coghill (R-Fairbanks)

  • Resources – Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-East/South Anchorage)

  • State Affairs – Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla)

  • Community and Regional Affairs – Sen. Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks)

  • Labor and Commerce – Sen. Mia Costello (R-Anchorage)

  • Transportation – Sen. Bert Stedman (R-Sitka)

  • Education – Senator-elect Shelly Hughes (R-Palmer/Chugiak)

  • Legislative Budget and Audit – Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak)

The next legislative session starts on Jan. 17, 2017 in Juneau.

KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.