Legislative session starts today

State of the State address and responses will be Wed. night
Majority Leader Sen. John Coghill talks about the upcoming legislative session in his Capitol office on Monday.

The 28th Alaska State Legislature will take office Tuesday afternoon as the first legislative session since last year’s decennial redistricting begins.


The legislative day will start with Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell swearing in members of the House of Representatives, followed by members of the Senate.

“It’s really an organizational day,” said Senate Majority Leader-elect John Coghill, R-North Pole.

The House will go into session at 1 p.m.

After the House swearing-in, Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, said, “There’ll be a motion on the floor to vote on the Speaker of the House, and we’ll go through that process.”

Chenault said he plans to stand for another term as Speaker. He has been Speaker of the House since 2009, when he succeeded then-Rep. John Harris, R-Valdez.

The Alaska House Majority Caucus announced on Nov. 8, 2012, two days after the general election, that Chenault would return as Speaker.

Meanwhile, the Senate will gavel in at 2 p.m., and senators will be sworn in.

Sen. Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, is generally considered Senate president-elect, having secured the 11 votes needed to ascend to that position. But like the House, the Senate will hold a vote to elect its presiding officer.

“Although it’s assumed, you still have to go through the vote process,” Coghill explained.

The House and Senate will also follow a “protocol of notice” to formally inform one another, as well as the governor’s office, that they are in session.

Neither chamber is expected to do any heavy legislative lifting on the Legislature’s first day in session.

“We probably won’t take up any legislation aside from a couple of rules resolutions,” said Chenault.

Coghill said a reception will be held after the Senate gavels out late Tuesday afternoon, with legislators’ family members and other loved ones encouraged to attend.

On Wednesday and Friday, Chenault said, House bills will be read and referred to committees. Sixty-one bills have been prefiled in the House, as well as 13 in the Senate. They include proposals such as establishing a process and schedule for performance audits of state agencies, allowing school districts to authorize employees to carry guns on school grounds, and giving new corporations a three-year corporate income tax break.

“Those will all be referred to committees on Wednesday and Friday, and that will give the committees some legislation to start looking at,” Chenault said.

Coghill said the Senate will read and refer its prefiled bills on Wednesday.

“That gives people a chance to kind of go through the review,” said Coghill. “They’re here, they’ve got their office open, their staff’s here. If they want to jump on and be a sponsor, if they want to make sure they understand what’s coming so when it’s time to put them in committee, that they think they’re in the right committee, they have a chance to dialogue about that.”

Also on Wednesday, Republican Gov. Sean Parnell will give his annual State of the State address — his fourth since taking office in 2009 — in the House Chambers.

Parnell’s speech will follow a welcome reception for legislators at Centennial Hall hosted by the City and Borough of Juneau.

After Parnell speaks at 7 p.m., the Democratic minority for both the House and Senate will offer a response. The House and Senate majorities will also respond Wednesday evening to the speech.

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.


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