Members of the House of Representatives leave the chamber Wednesday, Feb. 3,. after failing to elect a temporary speaker, part of a deadlock that was broken Thursday, when Rep. Josiah Patkotak was elected speaker pro tem. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Members of the House of Representatives leave the chamber Wednesday, Feb. 3,. after failing to elect a temporary speaker, part of a deadlock that was broken Thursday, when Rep. Josiah Patkotak was elected speaker pro tem. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

State House picks temporary speaker

It’s the first break in three-week deadlock for House

The Alaska House of Representatives elected freshman Rep. Josiah Patkotak, I-Utqiagvik, as speaker pro tem, a temporary position that will oversee the body until further organization. Patkotak was elected unanimously Thursday morning, the first break in the deadlock in the House that has held since the first day of the session.

After electing Patkotak, lawmakers recessed briefly before adjourning until Friday morning.

“I am humbled and honored to serve in this capacity during my first year in office, and I remain committed to the Bush Caucus as we work to achieve a permanent organization in the House. I thank God for this opportunity,” Patkotak said in a statement.

Speaker pro tem is largely a ceremonial position, but the vote is the first time the state House has been able to come to an agreement for three weeks. Patkotak will be able to oversee House floor sessions, meaning Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer no longer has to preside over the body.

[House remains deadlocked. Here’s what that means for future legislation]

Patkotak, who was elected to the seat after Rep John Lincoln, I-Kotzebue, decided not to run for office, is a member of the House coalition of mostly Democrats, independents and one Republican. But Patkotak was nominated by Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok, who in a statement said he was honored to put the name forward.

“Over the last three weeks, I’ve gotten to know him better. He’s an honorable man and the right person to help break the stalemate toward electing a House Speaker,” Cronk said.

Rep. Steve Thompson said in a statement all Alaskans should welcome the vote of confidence placed in Patkotak.

Last year’s Speaker, Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, said in a statement he was pleased with Patkotak’s appointment.

“I am encouraged to see a young leader with the skills, temperament, and commitment to rural Alaska playing a leadership role as we continue to work toward a permanent organization in the House,” Edgmon said.

Rep. Neal Foster, D-Nome, who served as speaker pro tem in 2019, and said Thursday he was proud to see another rural legislator stepping up.

But the question of leadership remains.

The House is still evenly divided, and without full organization, bills can’t be introduced and committee assignments can’t be given.

Contact reporter Peter Segall at Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

Stickers are available for voters at the Kenai No. 1 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to hold ‘I Voted’ sticker design contest

City council members approved the program during their Wednesday night meeting

Bill seeking to bump use of Alaska Performance Scholarship clears the House with unanimous support

The money is awarded to high-performing high school graduates to help pay for postsecondary education at participating institutions in Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Travis Every, top left, speaks in support of fishing opportunity for the east side setnet fishery before the State Board of Fisheries at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local fishers talk conservation, opportunity before Board of Fisheries in Anchorage

Local fishers from the Kenai Peninsula traveled to Anchorage this weekend to… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Alaska senators meet with members of the media to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

A map displays a wide-ranging special weather statement, published Tuesday by the National Weather Service, covering Southcentral Alaska. (Map courtesy of National Weather Service)
Strong winds, low wind chills forecast through Friday

Wind chills over night may reach as low as -20 to -40 degrees in much of Southcentral

Snow falls atop the Central Peninsula Diabetes Center in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. The office opened in October, but a grand opening was held this week. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital adds Diabetes Center

The center has been seeing patients since October and held a grand opening Monday

Gary Hollier pulls a sockeye salmon from a set gillnet at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Findings from pilot setnet fishery study inconclusive

The study sought to see whether shorter nets could selectively catch sockeye salmon while allowing king salmon to pass below

Most Read