Egan wins seat on finance committee

Southeast legislators now hold two seats on powerful seven-member committee

Posted: Sunday, June 07, 2009

State Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, was named Friday to a seat on the powerful Senate Finance Committee, replacing former Sen. Kim Elton, also a Juneau Democrat, who resigned earlier this year.

All bills involving money go through the Finance Committee, and it serves as something of an executive committee for the full Senate. Egan's appointment means Southeast Alaska has two legislators on the seven-member committee. The other is Bert Stedman, R-Sitka.

Then-Sen. Elton won the coveted committee seat three years ago after a bi-partisan coalition called the Senate Working Group, now led by Senate President Gary Stevens, took control of the Senate.

Egan joined the coalition after his appointment to the Senate on the last day of the legislative session in April. That followed a drawn-out battle between Gov. Sarah Palin and Senate Democrats over the vacancy.

Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, was the first pick for the Senate seat by Juneau Democratic leaders. She praised the Senate leadership Friday for appointing Egan to the Finance Committee.

"I'm really pleased the Senate voted to keep the Finance seat with Juneau, Dennis will do a great job with it," she said.

Senate Majority Leader Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, called Friday's appointment "fantastic."

While the Legislature was in session, Ellis led the fight in the Senate against Palin's choices for the Senate seat, some of who re-registered as Democrats to be eligible for the appointment.

"He has the stature and the experience to fill out the job seamlessly," Ellis said.

The Senate's Committee on Committees made the Finance appointment Friday during a meeting in Anchorage.

Egan will also reprise Elton's role as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Other prominent committee roles won't be passing to Egan, such as Elton's chairmanship of the Senate Education Committee - which Sens. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, and Joe Thomas, D-Fairbanks, will share - and a seat on the Senate Rules Committee, which Ellis will assume.

Kerttula said it would be unusual for a freshman legislator to have as many committee assignments as Elton had, a 15-year veteran of the Legislature.

Republican Senate President Gary Stevens, also the Committee on Committees chairman, praised Egan as well.

"He will continue to give Juneau the kind of hands-on representation on that important committee that Sen. Elton provided," he said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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