Alaska State Senate

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Alaska State Senate

Alaska State Seal.gif
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Partisan control:   Republican Party
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 20, 2015
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Kevin Meyer (R)
Majority Leader:   John B. Coghill (R)
Minority Leader:   Berta Gardner (D)
Members:  20
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art II, Alaska Constitution
Salary:   $50,400./year+ per diem
Last Election:  November 4, 2014 (14 seats)
Next election:  November 8, 2016
Redistricting:  Alaska Redistricting Board has control
Meeting place:
Alaska capitol.jpg
The Alaska State Senate is the upper house of the Alaska State Legislature. There are 20 state senators; they represent 20 districts each composed of an average of 35,512 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 31,347 residents.[2] The districts are identified by a letter of the alphabet, rather than a number as is the more common norm in other states. The senators serve four-year terms and are not subject to term limits.[3] Half of the senate is up for re-election every two years.

As of May 2015, Alaska is one of 19 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

See also: Alaska State Legislature, Alaska House of Representatives, Alaska Governor


Section 8 of Article II of the Alaska Constitution contains provisions relating to the timing and length of sessions of the Alaska State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part. However, the provisions related to the convening date of the Legislature have been changed by law, and the provisions limiting the length of legislative sessions have been changed by the Alaska 90-Day Legislative Session Amendment. This amendment was passed in a 2006 ballot initiative, and it limits the regular sessions of the Legislature to ninety days.

Section 9 of Article II allows for special sessions to be called by the governor of Alaska or by a two-thirds vote of the legislators. Special sessions are limited to thirty days.


See also: Dates of 2015 state legislative sessions

In 2015, the Legislature was in session from January 20 through April 27 (Session extended). The Legislature began a special session on April 28.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2015 legislative session include the state budget. Decreasing oil prices have created a multi-billion dollar shortfall, so legislators will seek out cuts and improved efficiencies.[4]


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 21 to April 20.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2014 legislative session included education, the state budget, high energy prices and a natural gas pipeline.[5]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 15 to April 14.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2013 legislative session included oil tax reform, state agency performance reviews and a budget for fiscal year 2014.[6][7]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was in regular session from January 17 to April 15. It was in special session from April 15 to April 30.[8]


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Senate was in session from January 18th to April 17th. A special session was called on June 27 to discuss reauthorization of the state's Coastal Management Program, which was set to expire June 30. Measures to reauthorize the program failed during the regular session.[9]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in session from January 19th to April 18th.

Role in state budget

See also: Alaska state budget and finances
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The state operates on an annual budget cycle, with the fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[10][11]

  1. Budget instructions are sent to state agencies in July.
  2. Agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in October.
  3. Agency budget hearings are held from September through November.
  4. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature by December 15.
  5. The legislature adopts a budget by a simple majority in April.

The governor is required by statute to submit a balanced budget. Likewise, the legislature is required by statute to pass a balanced budget.[11]

Alaska is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[11][12]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Alaska was one of 29 states with mixed results regarding the frequency and effectiveness in its use of cost-benefit analysis.[13]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[14] According to the report, Alaska received a grade of F and a numerical score of 43, indicating that Alaska was "failing" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[14]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Alaska was given a grade of B in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[15]



See also: Alaska State Senate elections, 2014

Elections for the office of Alaska State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on August 19, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was June 2, 2014.


See also: Alaska State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of Alaska State Senator were held in Alaska on November 6, 2012. Ordinarily, half (10) of the senators would have been up for election in 2012, with the remaining half up for election in 2014 because senators serve staggered four-year terms. However in 2012, every senator except Dennis Egan (D) faced re-election due to changes resulting from state legislative redistricting. Senators normally scheduled for the 2014 election were elected to two-year terms in 2012, preserving Alaska's staggered Senate elections. Thus, a total of 19 seats were up for election in 2012.[16]

The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was June 1, 2012, and the primary Election Day was August 28, 2012.

The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.


See also: Alaska State Senate elections, 2010

Elections for the office of Alaska State Senator were held in Alaska on November 2, 2010. State senate seats in all even-numbered districts excluding District 20 were on the ballot in 2010, in addition to the District 19 seat.

The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was June 1, 2010, and the primary Election Day was August 24, 2010.

During the 2010 election, the total value of contributions to the 29 Senate candidates was $1,227,692. The top 10 contributors were:[17]


See also: Alaska State Senate elections, 2008

Elections for the office of Alaska State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 26, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.

During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $863,330. The top 10 contributors were:[18]


See also: Alaska State Senate elections, 2006

Elections for the office of Alaska State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 22, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.

During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $1,560,798. The top 10 contributors were:[19]


See also: Alaska State Senate elections, 2004

Elections for the office of Alaska State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 24, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.

During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $1,867,581. The top 10 contributors were:[20]


See also: Alaska State Senate elections, 2002

Elections for the office of Alaska State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 27, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.

During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $2,196,193. The top 10 contributors were:[21]


See also: Alaska State Senate elections, 2000

Elections for the office of Alaska State Senate consisted of a primary election on August 22, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.

During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $2,116,529. The top 10 contributors were:[22]


Article II, Section 2 of the Alaska Constitution states: A member of the legislature shall be a qualified voter who has been a resident of Alaska for at least three years and of the district from which elected for at least one year, immediately preceding his filing for office. A senator shall be at least twenty-five years of age.


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
NevadaMassachusettsColoradoNew MexicoWyomingArizonaMontanaCaliforniaOregonWashingtonIdahoTexasOklahomaKansasNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaMinnesotaIowaMissouriArkansasLouisianaMississippiAlabamaGeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaIllinoisWisconsinTennesseeNorth CarolinaIndianaOhioKentuckyPennsylvaniaNew JerseyNew YorkVermontVermontNew HampshireMaineWest VirginiaVirginiaMarylandMarylandConnecticutConnecticutDelawareDelawareRhode IslandRhode IslandMassachusettsNew HampshireMichiganMichiganAlaskaVacancy fulfillment map.png

If there is a vacancy in the Senate, the governor is responsible for selecting a replacement. The Governor must select the replacement within 30 days after the vacancy happened. The governor cannot appoint a replacement if the vacancy happens before a new legislative session is schedule to convene.[23]


See also: Redistricting in Alaska

The Alaska Redistricting Board is responsible for redistricting. Alaska is one of 9 states that appoint a commission to carry out redistricting.

2010 census

The Board received census data on March 14, 2011. The state saw a growth of about 83,000 (13.3%), leaving a total population of 710,231. This was higher than the national average of 9.7 percent, but was also the lowest growth in the state in 80 years; as far as moving in and out of state, Alaska showed a net loss.[24]

The Board officially adopted new maps on June 14, 2011. The plan removed a House seat from the Southeast and added one in Mat-Su. It also split the Aleutian Islands into separate House districts, which the Alaska Supreme Court has previously ruled unconstitutional in 1992. In total, the plan created six House districts and six Senate districts where Native representatives stand a good chance of being elected. Given population shifts, these districts are largely rural.[25]



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Alaska State Senate are paid $50,400 per year as a base salary rate. They are also paid a per diem of either $238 or $253/day, tied to the federal rate. This per diem varies depending on the time of the year. Legislators who live in the Juneau area receive 75% of federal rate.[26]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

The terms of Alaska legislators begin on the 4th Monday of the January following a November election.

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 6
     Republican Party 14
Total 20


From 2010 until 2012, the Republican and Democratic parties each held ten seats in the 20-seat senate. However, a majority coalition known as the "Alaska Senate Bipartisan Working Group," composed of members from both parties, was the senate's majority coalition. The working coalition consisted of all ten Democrats in the state senate, and six of its GOP members, and elected the chamber's leaders.[27]

Current leadership

Current Leadership, Alaska State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Kevin Meyer Ends.png Republican
Majority Leader John B. Coghill Ends.png Republican
Minority Leader Berta Gardner Electiondot.png Democratic

Current members

Current members, Alaska State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
A Pete Kelly Ends.png Republican 2013
B John B. Coghill Ends.png Republican 2009
C Click Bishop Ends.png Republican 2013
D Charlie Huggins Ends.png Republican 2005
E Mike Dunleavy Ends.png Republican 2013
F Bill Stoltze Ends.png Republican 2015
G Anna MacKinnon Ends.png Republican 2013
H Bill Wielechowski Electiondot.png Democratic 2007
I Berta Gardner Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
J Johnny Ellis Electiondot.png Democratic 1993
K Mia Costello Ends.png Republican 2015
L Lesil McGuire Ends.png Republican 2007
M Kevin Meyer Ends.png Republican 2009
N Catherine A. Giessel Ends.png Republican 2011
O Peter Micciche Ends.png Republican 2013
P Gary Stevens Ends.png Republican 2003
Q Dennis Egan Electiondot.png Democratic 2009
R Bert Stedman Ends.png Republican 2003
S Lyman Hoffman Electiondot.png Democratic 1995
T Donald Olson Electiondot.png Democratic 2001


See also: State senate standing committees

The Alaska State Senate has 10 standing committees:

There are also three special committees:


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Alaska
Partisan breakdown of the Alaska legislature from 1992-2013

From 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Alaska State Senate for 15 years while the Democrats were the majority for six years. The final three years of the study depicted a shift in the Alaska senate with the first two years being Democrat and the final year (2013) becoming a Republican trifecta.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Alaska, the Alaska State Senate and the Alaska House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Alaska state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

To read the full report on the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) in PDF form, click here.

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Alaska state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. The only trifecta in Alaska, a Republican trifecta, occurred between the years 2003 and 2006, as well as 2013. The state never had a Democratic trifecta between 1992 and 2012. Between 1995-2002 and 2007-2012, Alaska had divided government. Alaska never placed in the top-10 or bottom-10 in the SQLI ranking. Alaska’s highest SQLI ranking (16th) occurred during divided government, in 2002, while its lowest ranking (37th) occurred in 2011, also under divided government.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: N/A
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 32
  • SQLI average with divided government: 23.27
Chart displaying the partisanship of Alaska government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed January 6, 2014
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  3. State of Alaska Legislative Affairs Agency, "Handbook on Alaska State Government," accessed December 16, 2013(Page 74)
  4. KTUU, "Alaska Legislature to get underway; budget a big issue," January 20, 2015
  5., "Alaska lawmakers prepare for first legislative session of 2014," accessed January 22, 2014
  6. Anchorage Daily News, "Oil taxes the top agenda for next legislature," January 13, 2013
  7., "Alaska Legislative Session Adjourns," April 15, 2013
  8., "2012 Legislative Session Calendar," accessed April 21, 2015
  9., "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed April 21, 2015
  10. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  12. NCSL, "Gubernatorial Veto Authority with Respect to Major Budget Bill(s)," accessed March 2, 2014
  13. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  15. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  16. Anchorage Daily News, "New legislative map forces early elections for senators," June 13, 2011
  17. Follow the Money, "Alaska State Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions," accessed April 23, 2015
  18. Follow the Money, "Alaska 2008 Candidates," accessed April 10, 2013
  19. Follow the Money, "Alaska 2006 Candidates," accessed April 10, 2013
  20. Follow the Money, "Alaska 2004 Candidates," accessed April 10, 2013
  21. Follow the Money, "Alaska 2002 Candidates," accessed April 10, 2013
  22. Follow the Money, "Alaska 2000 Candidates," accessed April 10, 2013
  23. Alaska Legal Resource Center, "Alaska Election Law," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statute 15.40.320)
  24. Alaska Dispatch, "2010 census: Alaska’s population growth continues to slow," January 2, 2011
  25. Anchorage Daily News, "Democrats blast board's redistricting proposal," June 8, 2011
  26., "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  27. Governing, "Sarah Palin's New Nemesis?," November 11, 2008