Alaska Legislature weighs governor’s cabinet and board picks – KTOO

Update | 5:29 p.m.

A divided Alaska Legislature has confirmed Hollis French as a commissioner for a state agency that oversees oil and gas drilling, development and production.

Sen. Hollis French speaks to reporters during a press conference held on Feb. 24, 2014 to announce the introduction of his resolution to allow a constitutional amendment that would remove Alaska’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)

Hollis French speaks to reporters at a press conference on Feb. 24, 2014. French was a state senator at the time and has now been confirmed as a member of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

During Tuesday’s debate, French was praised as qualified to serve on the three-member Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. But questions were raised, too, about whether French would be too much of a rabble rouser.

French is a former Democratic state senator from Anchorage. During his tenure, he was a vocal opponent of the oil tax overhaul passed by the Legislature in 2013.

French was confirmed 35-24, after House majority members pushed to force lawmakers to bring his nomination up.

House Majority Leader Chris Tuck said it appeared nominees were not being taken in order and his caucus wanted to vote on French sooner than later.

Update | 3:25 p.m.

The Alaska Legislature has confirmed the three marijuana regulators who were up for approval.

Peter Mlynarik, Nicholas Miller and Mark Springer were confirmed Tuesday to the Marijuana Control Board. All three have been serving on the board but were subject to legislative approval to remain in their posts.

The confirmation of Mlynarik, who serves as board’s chair, proved the most divisive. He was confirmed 45-14.

Rep. Scott Kawasaki cited concerns that Mlynarik was involved as a signature gatherer for a proposed ballot initiative on whether to prohibit commercial cannabis operations in portions of the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Other lawmakers praised Mlynarik’s integrity.

Sen. Peter Micciche says Mlynarik takes his job seriously and provides a “healthy tension” on the board.

Update | 2:47 p.m.

The Alaska Legislature has confirmed Jahna Lindemuth as the state’s attorney general on a 52-7 vote.

Jahna Lindemuth

Gov. Bill Walker named Jahna Lindemuth Alaska’s attorney general on June 28, 2016. (Photo courtesy Alaska Governor’s Office)

Lindemuth had faced criticism for pursuing settlement in a long-running land-access dispute brought by Ahtna Inc. In 2016, a state court judge handed the Alaska Native regional corporation a partial victory.

Lindemuth earlier this year said that in situations like that, one must decide whether to settle and try to secure access that benefits Alaskans or to take chances at trial.

Lindemuth has served as attorney general since last summer. She replaced Craig Richards, who resigned.Gov. Bill Walker’s other Cabinet picks — Walt Monegan as Public Safety commissioner and Andy Mack as Natural Resources commissioner — also won confirmation during the joint legislative session.

Original story | 1:47 p.m.

The Alaska Legislature is meeting in joint session this afternoon to consider Gov. Bill Walker’s nominees to boards, positions and key administration positions.

Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack are the Walker Cabinet members facing confirmation.

They have been serving in their roles, as have others appointed by Walker, but are subject to legislative approval to remain in those jobs.

Lindemuth faced criticism for pursuing settlement in a long-running land-access dispute.

Drew Phoenix, who was appointed to serve on the state’s human rights commission, also has garnered attention. Some conservative groups have tried to paint Phoenix, who has advocated for LGBT rights, as too political for the post.

  • Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage: Drew Phoenix
  • Sen. Hollis French addresses a joint session of the Alaska Legislature during debate about confirmations of the governor's appointees, April 17, 2014. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks with reporters at a press availability following her annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Feb. 22, 2017. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
  • King salmon at a market in Seattle.


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