Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, seated at the Speaker of the House chair, and Democratic legislators argue over what he can do on the first day of the 31st session of the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, seated at the Speaker of the House chair, and Democratic legislators argue over what he can do on the first day of the 31st session of the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Tensions rise in discombobulated Alaska House

Until a majority is formed, the House will be at a standstill.

It did not take long for the discombobulated Alaska House to get derailed with a disagreement on procedure.

Shortly after new Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer swore in 39 members of the House Tuesday afternoon, he and Democratic lawmakers were arguing over whether Healy Republican Rep. Dave Talerico was allowed to read a message on behalf of Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

[Juneau’s new state senator gets committee assignments, including ‘colossal’ task]

Talerico had been trying to relay a message to the House from Dunleavy about Dunleavy’s desire to appoint Sharon Jackson to House District 13 in Chugiak. That position was left vacant in December after Dunleavy appointed Nancy Dahlstrom to be Department of Corrections commissioner.

Tensions rising, a back and forth between Meyer and Tuck led Tuck to remind Meyer that the rules would not allow for the House to receive communications from the governor until the House was organized. Right now, there is no clear House majority caucus, which means there is no House leadership to conduct business.

Meyer called for a break that lasted about 20 minutes.

When Meyer called the session back to order, he said the governor’s communication would not be read. Meyer then congratulated the representatives.

“I have worked with many of you, and know most of you, you’re going to do a great job.” Meyer said. “I believe we are in good hands.”

[‘Like the first day of school’: Juneau’s freshmen lawmakers gear up for session]

The argument underscored the looming issue at hand: Until a majority is formed, the House will be at a standstill. A House Majority Coalition comprised of mostly Democrats has been in power the last two years. A Republican and independent who had caucused with the House Majority Coalition lost re-election bids in November. Republicans who caucused with the coalition were targeted by Alaska Republicans for their defection.

Even if Sharon Jackson’s appointment is finalized as expected, House Republicans would only have 20 members, which is not enough for a majority.

The House briefly reconvened at 5 p.m. Tuesday, but gaveled out without further action.


Contact reporter Kevin Baird at 523-2258.


Rep. George Rauscher, R-Sutton, left, speaks with Sharon Jackson on the opening day of the 31st Session of the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. Jackson is Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy’s pick to replace Nancy Dahlstrom’s House District 13 seat for Chugiak. That position was left vacant in December after Dunleavy appointed Dahlstrom to be Department of Corrections commissioner. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Rep. George Rauscher, R-Sutton, left, speaks with Sharon Jackson on the opening day of the 31st Session of the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. Jackson is Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy’s pick to replace Nancy Dahlstrom’s House District 13 seat for Chugiak. That position was left vacant in December after Dunleavy appointed Dahlstrom to be Department of Corrections commissioner. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, left, and Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, relay a message to Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy in his Capitol office that the Senate is open and ready for business on the first day of the 31st Session of the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, left, and Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, relay a message to Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy in his Capitol office that the Senate is open and ready for business on the first day of the 31st Session of the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in News

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Alexis Alamillo, of Anchorage, carries a sockeye salmon caught in a dipnet from the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday.
Kenai River dipnetting now open 24 hours a day

The liberalization of fishing regulation was effective starting Thursday evening

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

Most Read