Republican majority again refuses to take up Knowles appointments

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles gave members of the Legislature a second chance to vote on his appointments to four key boards.

But, for the second time in as many days, members of the Republican Majority refused to budge from their decision to kill Knowles' appointments to the boards of Fish, Game, Education and the University of Alaska Board of Regents.

By a vote of 40-19, legislators voted Tuesday evening to adjourn just minutes after gathering in a joint session called by Knowles for a confirmation vote on the appointments. The vote was largely along party lines. Rep. Peggy Wilson of Wrangell was the only Republican voting against adjournment.

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Kott, R-Eagle River, has said Republican majority legislators want to allow the next governor to make appointments to the policy-making boards. Republicans hope U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, a Republican, will be elected governor this fall. He is expected to face Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, a Democrat, in the November election.

The motion to adjourn was made by Sen. Loren Leman, R-Anchorage. Leman wouldn't say why Republicans did not want to vote on the appointments.

''That was a decision we made as a group,'' he said.

The action drew fire from members of the Democratic Minority as a disservice to those willing to serve on state boards. Gov. Knowles' spokesman Bob King also criticized the move.

''I think the action they took tonight is going to be their legacy and a bad one at that, but it's of their own doing,'' King said. ''I think it speaks volumes as to the partisanship of the Republican majority to reject a number of people for a yet-elected governor.''

King said Knowles was evaluating his options. The governor could include a confirmation vote on the agenda of the special session on subsistence, set to begin Wednesday.

Knowles could make new interim appointments to those boards, but they would have to be confirmed by the next Legislature after the next governor is elected.

Those not confirmed were:

Board of Fisheries: Brett Huber of Soldotna, a former aide to Senate President Halford; Gerry Merrigan of Petersburg; and Art Nelson of Anchorage.

Board of Game: Bruce Baker of Juneau; George Matz of Anchorage; J. Dana Pruhs of Anchorage; Caleb Pungowiyi of Kotzebue; and Michelle Sparck of Bethel.

University of Alaska Board of Regents: Mark Begich of Anchorage; Joseph Hardenbrook of Fairbanks; and Marlene Johnson of Juneau.

Board of Education and Early Development: Roger Chan of Anchorage and Sally Rue of Juneau.

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