Alaska Legislature rejects midwife board pick
Only one of Gov. Walker’s board nominees failed to get legislative approval Tuesday, likely because of her ties to Planned Parenthood.
The House and Senate jointly voted on nearly 100 board and commission nominations, as it does this time each session.
Only Palmer’s Kenni Linden failed to get legislative backing, though several higher-profile names received pushback as well.
Walker nominated Linden to serve on the board of certified direct-entry midwives, but the Legislature rejected the nomination 32-to-28.
Most nominations were approved without any objection and didn’t require a vote. Still, the hearing offered a brief glimpse on how some lawmakers felt about newly appointed commissioners as well as Linden.
“The fact that she is an outspoken activist for Planned Parenthood was the first thing,” said Rep. David Eastman (R-Wasilla). “That was probably what we heard about more than anything else.
“It was an appointment that inappropriate. I don’t think the governor should have made it and was deeply offensive to many of the people I represent.”
Senate Minority Leader Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) said the vote was unfair.
“She didn’t step up to run for the board herself or ask for the appointment,” she said. “She was encouraged to run by her midwife. She had a home birth with a midwife attendant and her midwife suggested she put in her name.
“I talked to her several times before this year and in the committee process, too. She impressed me as somebody who is articulate and capable. She’s a writer, an educator, an editor, a parent. I think she has a heart for service.”
The Legislature also backed three commissioner nominations: Administration Commissioner Leslie Ridle; Commerce Commissioner Mike Navarre and Revenue Commissioner Sheldon Fisher.
Fisher’s nomination was among a few that received debate.
“From what I’ve seen with this nominee, is the balance of his policies tip very far in favor industry and out of balance with regards to every day Alaskans so I’ll have to oppose this nomination,” said Sen. Bill Wielechowski. “It’s nothing personal. I just disagree with his policies.”
Senate Finance co-chair Anna MacKinnon disagreed, saying Fisher has worked hard to help bring Alaska’s fiscal situation into balance.
“Alaska’s credit rating agencies are watching us carefully. Mr. Fisher has brought forward as the Department of Administration and then again reinforced as the commissioner of revenue, concepts to protect Alaska’s economy from outside down ratings and credit.”
Tuesday was the last of four confirmation hearings during Walker’s first term.
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