Monday marks the beginning of the second week of the new legislative session, and the House still remains unorganized without a majority or permanent leadership.
“I’m in favor of a Republican-led majority,” Rep. Dave Talerico, R-Healy said after a press conference Monday morning. He said House members were still having open communication on both sides of the aisle.
The House has been largely at a standstill since gaveling in the first day of session Tuesday, although a temporary Speaker of the House was voted in, Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome.
When asked Monday how long he thought it would take to organize the House, Talerico said, “To pinpoint a specific day I think would be pretty difficult. I’d like to think it would be sooner rather than later.”
Rep. Chuck Kopp, R-Anchorage, noted that not having a budget from the governor was making it more difficult for members to have discussions about forming the majority.
“In a normal organizational year, it’s easier to draw team lines based on budget priorities,” Kopp said.
The House expects to see Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s new budget proposal on Feb. 13, said Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole. She said Monday they expect it will be dramatically different in comparison to the way budgets have been presented in the past.
“The budget is the No. 1 thing we are sent here to do,” Kopp said. “The caution flag is up among members. It’s hard to comment on something we haven’t seen.”
Talerico announced the House will hold a series of informational meetings this week at the Capitol that he hopes will help to move forward with business and clear a pathway for a majority organizaton to be formed quickly.
The last two years, the House has been led by a largely Democratic House Majority Coalition. But a Republican and independent who had caucused with the House Majority Coalition lost re-election bids in November. Currently there’s 20 Republicans caucusing, which is not enough to form a majority in the 40-member House.
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