Legislators begin work

Juneau's freshman lawmaker finds her way around Capitol

Posted: Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Shortly before noon today, Juneau will have a new representative in the Alaska Legislature.

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Democrat Andrea Doll is scheduled to be sworn in today as one of six freshman Democrats as the 25th Alaska Legislature gets under way at 11 a.m.

In many ways, her road to the Capitol was unique. In others, her experiences mirror those of first-year legislators who have arrived from all over the state.

Doll, who won the closest race in the state in November, will join Sen. Kim Elton and Rep. Beth Kerttula in the capital's all-Democrat delegation.

She replaces Republican Bruce Weyhrauch, who did not run for re-election

The two experienced legislators have been in the thick of backroom politics since election day, with Elton joining a bipartisan coalition that took control of the Senate and winning himself a seat on the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Kerttula was elected House minority leader.

Doll, meanwhile, has been trying to learn the ropes. Most newcomers arrived at the Capitol last week, undergoing training sessions on the mechanics of bill passage, legislative data processing, floor protocol and other topics, she said.

"And ethics training - there's going to be a lot of that," she said.

Her new office is on the fourth floor, among other freshmen.

Events this week

• Today - Legislative Welcome Reception, 5-6:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall.

• Wednesday - Native Issues Forum, 11:45 a.m. at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, 320 W. Willoughby Ave.

• Thursday - Forum on Legislative Ethics, 7-9 p.m. in the Assembly Chambers at City Hall, with a reception at 6:15 p.m.

• Saturday - 2007 Juneau Inaugural Ball, 8 p.m. to midnight at Centennial Hall.

"There's a lot of us coming in," she said. "I'm not the only one up there trying to figure out where their office is. The fourth floor is jam-packed with freshman legislators."

Offices are assigned by the majority in each house, and then by seniority, so Doll didn't have much to choose from.

But she was able to choose a couple of experienced legislative aides. Mary McDowell, a former aide to long-time Unalaska representative Carl Moses has joined Doll, as has Terry Harvey, a former Weyhrauch aide who is staying with the Juneau delegation.

Weyhrauch called Harvey "a hardworking, smart guy" who would bring experience and knowledge, along with courtesy and common sense to the job. In addition, he's "already familiar with the issues, and is probably familiar with the people who call as well."

While getting her office set up and attending meetings, Doll and other freshmen are being sought out by other members wanting them to co-sponsor legislation.

Doll also has been jockeying for position on committees, trying to find places on panels that deal with issues she and her constituents care about.

"Every single hour of every day is packed," she said.

• Pat Forgey can be reached at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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