Legislative Minority Offers Power Sharing To Majority

House and Senate Minorities Propose Creating a Caucus of the Whole in the Alaska Legislature

The Traditional Majority and Minority Caucus System is Preventing Fiscal Solutions

Juneau — Last Friday was the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Alaska Constitution.  The convention in Fairbanks featured 55 Alaskans, elected from all regions and walks of life.  These far-thinking delegates came together as one and crafted a document that has guided not only the state government, but also Alaska’s institutions and people.  The constitutional example is being followed today by the Alaska Senate Democrats and the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition as they propose a new structure for the 29th Alaska Legislature.

“There are definitive moments in Alaska history when all of us, with our hands on the tiller, are called to steer our ship of state away from the rocks,” said Senate Minority Leader Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage).  “This is one of those times.  Members of the legislature are Alaskans first, and we must come together as Alaskans to chart a new course.  The Minority organizations in the House and Senate are making a good faith offer to join with our colleagues in the Majority and share the burden of leadership.  We do so with the full understanding that we will also share the risks associated with making the tough and potentially unpopular decisions that direct the future our state.”

Alaska is facing enormous fiscal challenges that threaten the economy, our political and social institutions, and the well-being of the people.  The members of the Alaska Senate Democrats and the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition are concerned that the challenges ahead have the potential to overwhelm the ability of the Alaska Legislature to respond under the current partisan political caucus system.  After much deliberation, the Minority organizations in the Alaska House and Senate have decided to look back to Alaska’s history, follow the example of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, and propose that all lawmakers put aside politics and work together as one.

“Many lawmakers are ignoring their duty to protect the Alaska economy and way of life as they try to address the ever growing budget deficit caused by low oil prices and continued production decline.  At the same time, the halls of the Capitol Building in Juneau are full of lobbyists with special interests scrambling for the last available dollars with little thought to the future of all of us,” said Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Leader Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).  “However, if you listen carefully, there are also whispers of solutions and acknowledgment of the need for bipartisanship.  By proposing a caucus of the whole to bring all lawmakers together under one united banner, we hope to give voice to those solutions.”

The Alaska Senate Democrats and Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition have outlined the proposal for a Caucus of the Whole in a letter that has been delivered to Senate President Kevin Meyer and Speaker of the House Mike Chenault.


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3 Comments on "Legislative Minority Offers Power Sharing To Majority"

  1. House Concurrent Resolution 23 just effectively dissolved the Alaska House of Representatives as a body of elected representatives and passed all power effectively to Mike Chenault who as “Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives may direct a person who chairs a standing committee or special committee of the Alaska House of Representatives to limit committee meetings to consider only legislative measures that substantially relate to and have as their primary purpose, appropriating, raising, or allocating state revenue until the Alaska House of Representatives passes a state operating budget” (From the Resolution). And meetings only have to give 24 hour notice. So all hail the Great Chenault!

  2. Let us not forget that the days of the beloved bipartisan majority in the senate were also the days of the most bloated budgets in history. Numbers don’t lie. The spending did not start coming down until the coalition was busted up and some more conservative voices took charge. When you try to mash significantly different worldviews together, the only way to get along is to avoid substantive debate and spend money on everything. Our state can’t afford that any more.

    • You are promulgating an urban myth Mr. “Truth Teller”. Neither the House or the Senate can create either the capital or the operating budget alone as Mr. Chenault now seems to have forgotten with HCR 23. These bloated budgets came from the House (which was strictly controlled by the Republicans); the Senate (which retained control of the Senate Presidency by the Republicans); and Governor Parnell (who was a Republican). Do you see a common thread in party allegiance at that time when we saw; “the most bloated budgets in history” ?

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