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Republicans form Majority in the State Senate

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Republicans in the State Senate have organized a majority. In a press release, they announced their majority will consist of all 13 senate Republicans. This leaves seven Democrats in the minority. The leadership positions are:

  • Senator Cathy Giessel (R – Anchorage) – Senate President
  • Senator Mia Costello (R – Anchorage) – Majority Leader
  • Senator John Coghill (R – North Pole) – Rules Chair
  • Senator Bert Stedman (R – Sitka) – Co-Chair of Finance, Operating Budget
  • Senator Natasha von Imhof (R – Anchorage) – Co-Chair of Finance, Capital Budget

They also chose Senator Gary Stevens (R – Kodiak) as Chair of Legislative Council. Not included in the majority are rural Democratic Senators Lyman Hoffman (D – Bethel) and Donny Olson (D – Golovin). Hoffman would have likely been in the majority if Senator Pete Kelly (R – Fairbanks) had not lost to Representative Scott Kawasaki (D – Fairbanks). Kelly did not want to be in a majority without Hoffman. Word is Tuckerman Babcock, Chair of Mike Dunleavy’s Transition Team and soon to be Dunleavy’s Chief of Staff, told senate Republicans to not organize with any Democrats. Especially Lyman Hoffman, who endorsed Mark Begich for governor.

This 13 includes Senators Shelley Hughes (R – Palmer), Mike Shower (R – Wasilla), and Senator-elect Lora Reinbold (R – Eagle River). All three have had issues with the binding caucus rule that requires members to vote for the budget. Hughes was booted from the Senate Majority for voting against the budget. Shower, after replacing Mike Dunleavy, never joined the majority because of the rule. Reinbold was booted from the House Majority in 2015 for voting against the budget. It is not clear if this majority has a binding rule to vote for the budget, but it is unlikely considering it includes Hughes, Shower, and Reinbold.

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Alaska Chamber

Committee chairs have yet to be announced. According to the press release, “The Senate is committed to listening to Alaskans who have made their priorities clear: the state budget, public safety and protecting the Permanent Fund and the dividend,” said Senator Giessel. “We stand ready to serve Alaskans.”

 

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