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House leadership positions for 28th Alaska Legislature chosen

Amanda Coyne
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UPDATED: The new Republican-led Senate majority announced Wednesday was still in the process of evolving on Thursday. Two Republican senators—Bert Stedman and Gary Stevens—are now part of a 13-member majority. Both were visible leaders of the now-defunct bipartisan Senate coalition.

Stevens, a former history professor, will chair the Education Committee and Stedman will chair Health and Social Services. Because they are both moderate Republicans, both might serve as a bulwark against issues -- privatizing schools and abortion -- that some of the more conservative senators have vowed to make part of the 28th Legislature agenda.

Meantime, the more unruly House, which picked up three Republican seats on Tuesday night, spent Thursday meeting at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, voting on who was going to get what. At a little after 10 p.m. assignments were announced. Here are some of the key ones: 

  • Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, has retained the position of House speaker
  • Rep. Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, will become House majority leader
  • Rep. Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, is retained as House Rules Committee chairman
  • Mat-Su Rep. Bill Stoltz and Kodiak Rep. Alan Austerman are now co-chairs of the powerful House Finance Committee. 

And here's the full list of assignments: 

Finance Committee

  • Rep. Stoltze & Rep. Austerman, Co-Chairs
  • Rep. Mark Neuman, R-Big Lake
  • Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham
  • Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau
  • Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole
  • Rep. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage
  • Rep. Steve Thompson, R-Fairbanks

Committee Chairs

  • Judiciary – Rep. Wes Keller, R-Wasilla
  • Resources – Reps. Eric Feige, R-Chickaloon & Rep. Dan Saddler, R-JBER/Eagle River
  • State Affairs – Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage
  • Health & Social Services – Rep. Pete Higgins, R-Fairbanks
  • Labor & Commerce – Rep. Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna/Kenai
  • Transportation – Rep. Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell
  • Education – Rep. Lynn Gattis, R-Wasilla
  • Community & Regional Affairs – Rep. Ben Nageak, D-Barrow & Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage

Special & Joint Committee Chairmanships

  • Economic Development, Trade & Tourism – Rep. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer
  • Energy – Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage & Rep. Doug Isaacson, R-North Pole
  • Fisheries – Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer
  • Military & Veterans Affairs – Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome & Rep. LeDoux
  • Legislative Council – Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage
  • Regulation Review – Rep. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River
  • Legislative Budget & Audit – Rep. Hawker, Vice-Chair
  • Joint Armed Services – Rep. Saddler, House Co-Chair
  • Select Committee on Legislative Ethics – Rep. Millett, House Chair

Noticeably absent from Finance is Rep. Mike Hawker. More on what all this means on Friday. 

Contact Amanda Coyne at amanda(at)alaskadispatch.come