House Republicans discipline Rep. Lynn for his longevity vote

Lawmaker loses chair on House Special Committee on Military and Vet Affairs

Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2004

Republican Rep. Bob Lynn will be sanctioned by the GOP majority for voting with Democrats in a bid to restore funding for the senior citizen Longevity Bonus program.

Lynn, a freshman lawmaker from Anchorage, backed Democrats' attempt Monday to restore $45 million to the program axed by Gov. Frank Murkowski last year.

House Majority Leader John Coghill, a North Pole Republican, confirmed that Lynn would lose his chairmanship of the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs. Lynn will also lose his vice chairmanship of the House Labor and Commerce Committee, Coghill said. Lynn isn't expected to face further sanctions, he said.

"He kind of knew the cost going in and I think he'll tell you he's paid the cost," Coghill told The Associated Press.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Lynn said he accepted the consequences of his action.

"Everyone's actions and votes on that issue are now history. If the minority attempts to continue debating the veto issue, it will be to serve their minority political agenda, rather than to help seniors who need help," Lynn said in his statement.

Republican lawmakers considering removing Lynn from the caucus - a move that the lawmaker opposed - but decided against doing that, Coghill said.

Republicans hold a 28-12 majority in the House, and lawmakers within the caucus agree to side with leadership on procedural and budget votes, Coghill said. He called it a "gentleman's agreement" among members.

Lynn criticized Murkowski's veto that eliminated the bonus program that paid eligible Alaska seniors up to $250 per month.

Immediately after lawmakers returned to work Monday, Democrats tried to win support to enter into a joint legislative session to override Murkowski's veto.

That attempt failed by a vote of 11-27. Lynn cast the lone Republican vote and two Democrats were absent during the session.

When asked why he voted for the measure, Lynn said his voting record speaks for itself.

Lynn had talked to caucus members about voting for the Democrats' motion before the floor session, Coghill said. And Lynn was not the only Republican who favored overriding the veto, he said.

"Some of them had chairmanships they weren't willing to give up," Coghill said.

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