Alaska Senate forms bipartisan majority coalition
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Senate has formed an overwhelming majority coalition for the 2023 legislative session.
The coalition includes 17 out of the senate’s 20 members, and is composed of eight Republicans and nine Democrats, including Scott Kawasaki and Click Bishop from the Interior.
Senator Robert Myers who represents district Q, which includes North Pole and Moose Creek, declined to join the coalition, forming a three-person minority alongside Senators Shelley Hughes and Mike Shower.
Myers said he decided not to join because he would have had to agree to a binding caucus on a budget. The binding caucus is an agreement between the majority in which all members must vote to pass a budget or risk losing their committee roles or other legislative jobs.
“Ultimately, my vote belongs to my conscience and my constituents, and I can’t give it away just to join a majority. If we’re going to form a majority, we need to form a majority that has common goals and a vision of where we want to move the state. We don’t just form a majority just on taking power. It has to be... it needs to be a little more focused than that,” Myers said.
According to a press release from the majority caucus, its goals include lowering energy costs and improving education.
Kawasaki said he joined because being part of this majority will allow him to better serve the interests of Fairbanks.
He said the majority will not act as a binding caucus, and will be consensus-driven. “We’ve been assured that our votes will not bind us to anything, and that our joining it, a coalition, is more just because we want to get things done. The one thing that we will do is, after all the amendments are taken at the end, we need to vote on a budget, and that’s really the only thing the legislature must do, is pass a budget, and we’ve agreed to passing a budget.”
“We’ve had many, many years of just divisive infighting based on party politics. I think this coalition is going to be different than that,” Kawasaki added.
The new coalition is expected to announce who has been chosen to chair the various committees in the coming weeks.
The legislative session is scheduled to begin on January 17.
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