The state Senate majority announced committee leadership assignments Wednesday, picking Mat-Su Sen. Lyda Green and Fairbanks Sen. Gary Wilken to co-chair the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
Wilken will oversee the capital budget and the flow of legislation through the committee, and Green will coordinate the state's operating budget.
Also assigned to the seven-member committee from the Republican majority are Kodiak Sen. Alan Austerman, and Anchorage Sens. Con Bunde and Ben Stevens.
Moving over from the House this session, Bunde also will head the Labor and Commerce Committee. As a new senator with a newly reapportioned district, Bunde said he would solicit ideas from constituents before setting his agenda.
"It's good to come in with an open slate rather than a hard, fast agenda," Bunde said.
Palmer Sen. Scott Ogan, who also will switch over from the House this session, will head the Senate Resources Committee. He will be joined by majority members Stevens, Fred Dyson of Eagle River, and freshman lawmakers Ralph Seekins of Fairbanks and Tom Wagoner of Kenai. Seekins will serve as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Wagoner will head the Community and Regional Affairs Committee.
Sen. John Cowdery of Anchorage, who will serve as chairman of the Rules Committee and the Transportation Committee, said he would pursue approval for transportation projects throughout the state, including a road connecting Juneau and Skagway.
"The last couple of days shows that that can be a benefit," Cowdery said, noting that fog has prevented flights from leaving and entering Juneau.
Cowdery said he would work with U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and U.S. Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republicans, to obtain funding for construction of a bridge over Knik Arm, linking Anchorage and the Mat-Su.
Construction of a bridge linking Ketchikan to Gravina Island also is a priority for Cowdery.
Republicans also announced on Wednesday that Sen. Robin Taylor of Wrangell will serve as chairman of the State Affairs Committee and the Legislative Council.
Dyson of Eagle River will serve as chairman of the Health Education and Social Services Committee.
Minority Democrats are scheduled to choose a minority leader for the Senate on Monday. Once the a minority leader is chosen, Senate President Gene Therriault, a North Pole Republican, said he will solicit committee assignments from Democrats.
Timothy Inklebarger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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