Senate debates who picks whom
JUNEAU - Some lawmakers are pushing legislation that could give U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski an opportunity to choose his own replacement should he run for governor of Alaska and win.
Current law requires the governor to assign a successor if a U.S. senator leaves office before his or her term is completed, if less than 30 months is left in the senator's term.
A bill moving through the state Senate and a similar measure drafted in the House would change that by requiring a five-day delay between the time the senator leaves office and when the governor names someone to the post.
The measure would ensure that "the person who created the vacant seat would be able to name the replacement," Rep. Eldon Mulder, an Anchorage Republican.
There was concern among some lawmakers about whether the sitting governor, now Gov. Tony Knowles, would choose the person to fill Murkowski's post should Murkowski leave office, Mulder said.
Murkowski, a Republican, has not said he plans to run for governor, but he has expressed interest in the past and has often been mentioned by Republicans as a contender.
Racism resolution vote changes
JUNEAU - State Sen. Gary Wilken changed his vote Thursday on a resolution condemning January paintball attacks on Alaska Natives and other incidents of racism.
Wilken, a Fairbanks Republican, had voted against the resolution Wednesday, saying he opposed racism but didn't believe it was the Legislature's place to cast votes condemning crimes. However, he gave notice he might bring the measure up for reconsideration.
When it came up again Thursday, Wilken changed his vote to support the measure. He gave no explanation for the change. The vote Thursday was 17-1, with Sen. Lyda Green, a Matanuska Susitna Borough Republican, continuing to vote "no." Green has said government can't change what's in people's hearts.
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