Alaska governor prepares for first State of State speech

  • By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press
  • Tuesday, January 22, 2019 1:30am
  • News

JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy was preparing for his first State of the State speech even though the House had yet to formally accept his request to deliver the address Tuesday before a joint session.

The House lacks an organized majority, which means it is limited in what business it can take up until a permanent speaker is elected. Suddenly something as simple as taking up a governor’s request to deliver the speech — typically done without a hitch — is more complicated.

Rep. Dave Talerico, a Republican leader, said there have been discussions on the proper procedure for accepting Dunleavy’s request to give the speech Tuesday night.

Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson said she expects those issues will be sorted out and looks forward to hearing from Dunleavy then.

Leaders of the predominantly Democratic coalition that controlled the House the last two years planned to hold a press conference after the speech.

Coalition press secretary Mike Mason said he was confident the speech would take place Tuesday but wasn’t sure what procedural steps would be taken to clear the way for that.

The Senate has already accepted Dunleavy’s request, and Senate President Cathy Giessel said she expected the House would be there.

“The governor is planning as if he will be giving his State of the State speech tomorrow,” Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow said Monday.

Monday’s House floor session was canceled.

Dunleavy, a Republican former state senator, campaigned on reducing state spending, repealing a sprawling criminal justice overhaul and paying residents a full dividend from the state’s oil wealth fund after three years of reduced payouts.

Dunleavy has said he would work to ensure that spending matches revenues, which he said have been calculated at $3.2 billion. Legislators are eager for details.

“We have heard that there’s going to be some transformational new approaches on delivery of state services. We’re all anxious to see what that looks like,” said Republican Rep. Chuck Kopp, adding that a fiscally sustainable, responsible budget is important.

• By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press

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