The Alaska House's inability to assemble a formal majority-led organization has major staffing implications for the chamber's 40 representatives, according to a Legislative Affairs Agency memo.

With less than four days to go until the 31st Alaska Legislature begins, the House still does not have a clearly organized majority.

There are at least 19 Republicans aligned in one camp. Sharon Jackson – appointed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy to fill Corrections Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom's Eagle River seat – is likely to be a 20th member, but no vote has been taken yet by House Republicans.

There are 16 Democrats, two Republicans and one independent in another camp.

Then there is one Republican, Gary Knopp of Soldotna, who says a 21-member majority will not work and has been trying to forge a bi-partisan coalition.

But if nothing happens by the time Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer swears in 40 new members, “session staff will not be authorized,” according to the memo from Skiff Lobaugh, Legislative Affairs' human-resources manager.

A Jan. 10, 2019 Legislative Affairs Agency memo on state House staffing. (Steve Quinn/KTVA)

 

A Jan. 10, 2019 Legislative Affairs Agency memo on state House staffing. (Steve Quinn/KTVA)

“Staff who do not have authorization (which would be all staff other than the staff in the Chief Clerk’s office and the Floor Staff) should not work past January 15, 2019. If the staff continue to work without authorization, liability issues may arise,” Lobaugh wrote.

House members have at least two staff during session, though some have upwards of four, depending on the positions they hold.

House Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan) said the memo is additional impetus for the House to reach a deal on a majority.

“Everybody has valid concerns,” he said. “It’s another clear reason why we have to resolve the issue. They are an integral part of what happens in the Legislature. It’s a serious issue we have to address.”

As more lawmakers arrive in Juneau ahead of Tuesday’s session opening, Ortiz said he expects talks to continue through the weekend.

Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.

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