Alaska State Senate
|Alaska State Senate|
|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)|
Democratic Party (6)
Republican Party (14)
|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|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Committees
- 7 History
- 8 External links
- 9 References
As of February 2015, Alaska is one of 19 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.
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 is in session from January 20 through April 19.
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.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 21 to April 20.
Major issues in the 2014 legislative session included education, the state budget, high energy prices and a natural gas pipeline.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 15 to April 14.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Budget instructions are sent to state agencies in July.
- Agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in October.
- Agency budget hearings are held from September through November.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature by December 15.
- 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.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 which indicated 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. Among the challenges states faced were 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.
Ethics and transparency
Following the Money report
- See also: Following the Money 2014 Report
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. 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.
Open States Transparency
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 is 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.
- 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.
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.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Alaska State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 10 (J)||Hollis French, II||0.4%||15,151||Bob Bell|
|District 2 (B)||Pete Kelly||8.6%||11,481||Joe Paskvan|
|District 7 (G)||Bill Wielechowski||12.3%||11,355||Bob Roses|
|District 14 (N)||Catherine Giessel||18.2%||17,607||Ron Devon|
|District 8 (H)||Berta Gardner||19%||11,680||Don Smith|
|District 1 (A)||John Coghill||21%||15,639||Joe Thomas|
|District 13 (M)||Anna Fairclough||24.5%||17,688||Bettye Davis|
|District 17||Bert Stedman||29%||15,242||Albert Kookesh|
|District 11 (K)||Lesil McGuire||32.9%||13,985||Roselynn Cacy|
|District 9 (I)||Johnny Ellis||36.3%||10,008||Paul Kendall|
- 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:
|2010 Donors, Alaska State Senate|
|Dziubinski, Philip L||$153,806|
|Moronell, Mark W||$39,162|
|Alaska Republican Party||$28,450|
|Giessel, Catherin A (Cathy)||$18,125|
|Alaska Association of Realtors||$15,800|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte of Alaska||$15,000|
|Alaska State Employees Association Local 52||$13,000|
|Alaska Laborers Local 341||$12,000|
- 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:
|2008 Donors, Alaska State Senate|
|Anderson, John Nels||$40,000|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte of Alaska||$37,578|
|Alaska Republican Party||$29,738|
|Electrical Workers Local 1547||$11,500|
|Associated General Contractors of Alaska||$10,500|
|Alaska State Employees Association Local 52||$10,500|
|Alaska Region Council of Carpenters Local 1281||$9,000|
|Fairbanks Republican Womens Club||$9,000|
|Alaska Public Employees Association||$9,000|
|Schneeberger, Rosemary Rory||$7,500|
- 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:
|2006 Donors, Alaska State Senate|
|Mayo, Louis Earl||$83,629|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte of Alaska||$63,754|
|Alaska Republican Party||$41,700|
|Seekins, Ralph C||$30,300|
|Alaska Public Employees Association||$22,000|
|Electrical Workers Local 1547||$20,100|
|Operating Engineers Local 302||$19,000|
|Alaska Association of Realtors||$19,000|
|Associated General Contractors of Alaska||$16,500|
- 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:
|2004 Donors, Alaska State Senate|
|Jerry Ward for State Senate||$124,126|
|Alaska Republican Party||$95,250|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte of Alaska||$74,530|
|Allee, Rita T||$61,259|
|Yourkowski, Michael L||$21,605|
|Alaska Laborers Local 341||$17,500|
|Zaugg, Lynda L||$16,574|
|Electrical Workers Local 1547||$16,500|
|Alaska Public Employees Local 71||$15,500|
- 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:
|2002 Donors, Alaska State Senate|
|Alaska Republican Party||$73,833|
|Worthen, Timothy J||$27,050|
|Seekins, Ralph C||$24,250|
|Associated General Contractors of Alaska||$17,500|
|Alaska Public Employees Local 71||$16,000|
|Electrical Workers Local 1547||$16,000|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte of Alaska||$15,650|
|Alaska Public Employees Association||$15,000|
- 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:
|2000 Donors, Alaska State Senate|
|Privett, William B||$121,003|
|Alaska Republican Party||$79,500|
|Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte||$58,426|
|Olson, Donald C||$49,552|
|Cowdery, John J||$25,100|
|Guzy, David R||$23,300|
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.
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
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.
- See also: Redistricting in Alaska
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.
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.
- 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.
When sworn in
The terms of Alaska legislators begin on the 4th Monday of the January following a November election.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of February 2015|
The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Alaska State Senate from 1958-2006. Democrats are represented by a blue line while Republicans are represented by a red line. Independent incumbents and vacancies are represented by a gray line.
In response to the tie between the parties in the Alaska State Senate, a group of 16 senators (all of the Democrats and six Republicans) created a bipartisan working group. The Senate group has reportedly functioned, although tensions reportedly rose between the group and Governor Sean Parnell (R) at one point in 2011. Other chambers have also had to contend with tied partisan groups in legislative chambers in the recent past, and the Oregon House of Representatives is also currently tied.
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.
|Current Leadership, Alaska State Senate|
|President of the Senate||Kevin Meyer||Republican|
|Majority Leader||John B. Coghill||Republican|
|Minority Leader||Berta Gardner||Democratic|
|Current members, Alaska State Senate|
|B||John B. Coghill||Republican||2009|
|N||Catherine A. Giessel||Republican||2011|
- See also: State senate standing committees
The Alaska State Senate has 10 standing committees:
- Community & Regional Affairs Committee, Alaska Senate
- Education Committee, Alaska Senate
- Finance Committee, Alaska Senate
- Health & Social Services Committee, Alaska Senate
- Judiciary Committee, Alaska Senate
- Labor & Commerce Committee, Alaska Senate
- Resources Committee, Alaska Senate
- Rules Committee, Alaska Senate
- State Affairs Committee, Alaska Senate
- Transportation Committee, Alaska Senate
There are also three special committees:
- Senate World Trade Committee, Alaska Senate
- Senate In-State Energy Committee, Alaska Senate
- Senate Taps Throughput Committee, Alaska Senate
Partisan balance 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.
SQLI and partisanship
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
- The Alaska Senate's website
- Alaska Senate on Wikipedia
- Website of the Alaska Bipartisan Working Group
- Alaska Senate Minority
- U.S. Census Bureau, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed January 6, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
- "Handbook on Alaska State Government," pg. 74, accessed December 16, 2013
- KTUU, "Alaska Legislature to get underway; budget a big issue," January 20, 2015
- www.newsminer.com/, "Alaska lawmakers prepare for first legislative session of 2014," accessed January 22, 2014
- Anchorage Daily News, "Oil taxes the top agenda for next legislature," January 13, 2013 (dead link)
- ktuu.com, "Alaska Legislative Session Adjourns," April 15, 2013
- StateScape, Session schedules," accessed April 30, 2012
- StateScape.com, Session Updates," accessed June28, 2011
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- NCSL, "Gubernatorial Veto Authority with Respect to Major Budget Bill(s)," accessed March 2, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Anchorage Daily News, "New legislative map forces early elections for senators," June 13, 2011
- Follow the Money: "Alaska State Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money, "Alaska 2008 Candidates," accessed April 10, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Alaska 2006 Candidates," accessed April 10, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Alaska 2004 Candidates," accessed April 10, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Alaska 2002 Candidates," accessed April 10, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Alaska 2000 Candidates," accessed April 10, 2013
- Alaska Legal Resource Center, "Alaska Election Law," accessed December 16, 2013(Referenced Statute 15.40.320)
- Alaska Dispatch, "2010 census: Alaska’s population growth continues to slow," January 2, 2011
- Anchorage Daily News, "Democrats blast board's redistricting proposal," June 8, 2011
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- Senate Bipartisan Working Group," accessed June14, 2012
- Governing, "How Tied Chambers Affect States," June 9, 2011
- Alaska Senate puts together bipartisan coalition despite undecided races, November 6, 2008
- Sarah Palin's New Nemesis?, November 11, 2008
State of Alaska
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Comptroller | Commissioner of the Department of Revenue | Commissioner of Education | Director of Insurance | Director of Agriculture | Commissioner of Natural Resources | Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development | Regulatory Commission |