Elton receives two top posts in Senate

Majority coalition uses clout to exclude Republican minority from Finance Committee

Posted: Sunday, December 21, 2008

Juneau Sen. Kim Elton has been appointed to two top positions in the 26th Alaska Legislature, convening Jan. 20.

Democrat Elton will remain a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, and he will chair the newly created Senate Education Committee.

A coalition called the Senate Bipartisan Working Group, in which the body's ten Democrats backed Republican Sen. Gary Stevens of Kodiak as Senate president, had already been announced.

Other Southeast members getting prominent positions are Sen. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, as chairman of the Transportation Committee. It had previously been announced that Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, and Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, would serve as co-chairs of the Finance Committee.

Other top positions include Sen. Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage, as majority leader, and Sen. Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, as chairman of the Rules Committee.

Sen.-elect Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, will chair the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee. Meyer is new to the Senate, but served as a member of the House of Representatives since 2000.

The Resources Committee will be co-chaired by Sens. Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, and Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage.

Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome, will chair the Community and Regional Affairs Committee; Sen Bettye Davis, D-Anchorage, will chair the Health and Social Services Committee; Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, will chair the Judiciary Committee and McGuire will chair the newly-created Energy Committee.

Two other newly elected Senators will have chairmanships as well. Sen. Joe Paskvan, D-Fairbanks, will chair the Labor and Commerce Committee, while Sen. Linda Menard, R-Wasilla, will chair the State Affairs Committee.

McGuire will also chair the World Trade, Technology and Innovation committees and Wielechowksi will be Senate co-chair of the Joint Armed Services Committee.

Other Finance Committee members besides the chairs and Elton will be Olsen, Huggins, Thomas and Ellis.

Four senators, all conservative Republicans, are not members of the coalition: Sens. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole; Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River; Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai; and Con Bunde, R-Anchorage.

The Senate Finance Committee appointments entirely exclude the minority, led by Therriault in the current session. That's allowed under Legislative rules when the Senate's minority drops below five members.

Other than the finance committee, individual committee memberships have yet to be announced.

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