Peter Segall | Juneau Empire
                                Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, and Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, attend a press conference Wednesday.

Peter Segall | Juneau Empire Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, and Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, attend a press conference Wednesday.

Senator kicked off committee for breaking caucus rule has bill to end caucus rule

Wasilla Senator Mike Shower says rule undermines process

Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, announced the introduction of a bill that would prohibit binding caucuses in the Alaska Legislature.

Shower, was joined by fellow Republican lawmakers Sen. Shelley Hughes, Palmer; Reps. Ben Carpenter, Nikiski; Sharon Jackson, Eagle River; Colleen Sullivan-Leonard, Wasilla; and Sarah Vance, Homer; in a meeting late Wednesday afternoon.

Shower and his colleagues said the binding caucus rule undermines the voice of minority members and effectively silences their ability to vote as their constituents elected them to do.

“The process was meant to be slow,” Shower said at a press conference. He said the argument that a binding caucus speeds up the political process and allows for laws to actually pass through the Legislature undermines the political process.

“To say that we have to just do something and hand power to a few people, that doesn’t make sense to me,” Shower said.

Shower, Hughes and Sens. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, were stripped of their committee assignments because of their vote against the final budget bill at the end of the last legislative session.

In a meeting with Senate leadership immediately following Shower’s press conference, Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, said without a binding caucus, the Legislature would never get any work done.

“If we did not have this agreement we would be a year-round Legislature,” Stevens said.

Following the meeting with Shower and his colleagues, reporters met with Senate President Cathy Giessel, Anchorage; Bert Stedman, Sitka; Natasha Von Imhof, Anchorage; John Coghill, North Pole; and Stevens, all Republicans, in Giessel’s office at the capitol.

“If you’re part of (an) organization you have to work with people,” Coghill said. “There’s a difference between working with people and demanding something.”

But that’s also the argument opponents of the binding caucus rule made against the leadership.

“We can still have effective caucus without being one that says if you do not follow the majority then we are going to punish you,” Vance said.

Both Shower and Hughes said they are still members of the binding caucus, which they joined because being part of a caucus gives access to committee chairmanships and other policy-making advantages.

“The binding rule is fundamentally un-American, our constituents send us here based on our beliefs,” Hughes said. “I’m being forced to vote opposite of what I believe.”

Shower admitted the would be difficult to pass, but said that it was necessary to at least raise the issue within the Legislature.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or

More in News

Daily school district COVID-19 risk levels: Aug. 3

Risk levels are based on COVID cases reported in a community and determine how schools will operate.

A fire crew can be seen here at a containment line for the Swan Lake Fire in this undated photo. (Courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)
Fire crew’s departure highlights different wildfire season

With fire season winding down, state sends firefigthers south

Photos by Jeff Helminiak / Peninsula Clarion 
                                Part of a newly installed interagency public lands display at the Kenai Municipal Airport.
Kenai airport gets public lands display

The murals stretch from floor to ceiling in the ticketing area of the newly remodeled airport.

Seward extends emergency restrictions

Emergency ordinance 2020-009 was adopted unanimously by the city council on July 27.

State reports 1 new COVID death, no new peninsula cases

The person who died was an Anchorage man who was in his 70s.

Image via Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Daily school district COVID-19 risk levels: Aug. 1

Risk levels are based on COVID cases reported in a community and determine how schools will operate.

Rep. Gary Knopp is seen in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy Jayme Jones)
Lawmakers remember colleague killed in crash

State Rep. Gary Knopp, who represented Kenai-Soldotna area, was one of seven people killed Friday.

COVID week in review: Cases climb; state reports new deaths

18 new hospitalizations and four deaths associated with COVID-19 were reported this week.

A screengrab of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintedent John O’Brien announcing in a Thursday, July 30, 2020 video that masks will be required in school buildings this fall, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Schools to require masks, face coverings

Masks are now mandatory for all staff and students in third grade and higher.

Most Read