JUNEAU -- The Republican Legislature has begun to gear up for the first session in nine years under a GOP governor.
Senate Republicans have named five freshmen to head key committees, and House Republicans met earlier this week in preparation for the 2003 session.
House Speaker Pete Kott, R-Anchorage, said House Repub-licans plan to meet just before the session begins on Jan. 21 to discuss what legislation they will push during the first half of the 23rd legislative session.
House Republicans gathered during a retreat in Girdwood on Tuesday and Wednesday and heard presentations on the state's subsistence dilemma, revenue prospects and other issues affecting the Legislature, Kott said.
Gov. Frank Murkowski took office this week and still has to appoint several members to his Cabinet and also present a budget proposal to the Legislature by Dec. 16.
Legislative leaders plan to meet with Murkowski on Jan. 14, Kott said. Kott said identifying House legislative priorities will take a back seat to the governor's agenda.
''I am sure the House and Senate will have some objectives that will not be on the radar screen of the governor,'' Kott said.
Senate Republicans announced the final committee chairmanships on Wednesday, picking freshmen to head five key committees.
Senate President Gene Ther-riault, R-North Pole, said his caucus has not formulated its own list of priority legislation this session.
''We want to give (the administration) time to catch their breath and sort of figure out where we are all in agreement on and what goals to take quick action on,'' Therriault said.
The committee chairs are appointed by the Senate leadership, which was elected in closed balloting Nov. 6. The committee assignments announced this week include:
n Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, chair of the Community and Regional Affairs Committee. (See related story, page A-1.)
n Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, chair of the Health Education and Social Services Committee. Dyson served three terms in the House before moving to the Senate and previously chaired the House HESS committee.
n Sen. Ralph Seekins, R-Fairbanks, chair of the Judiciary Committee. Seekins has been an outspoken critic of a proposed constitutional amendment requiring a rural subsistence priority to comply with federal law. He has never served in the Legislature.
n Sen. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage, chair of the Labor and Commerce Committee. Bunde served 10 years in the House.
n Sen. Scott Ogan, R-Palmer, chair of the Senate Resources Committee. Ogan served four terms in the House.
Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell, will serve as chair of the State Affairs Committee and chair the Legislative Council, a joint committee that has the authority to act on behalf of the Legislature when it is not in session. Taylor had earlier sought to be Senate president.
Senate leaders previously named Sen. Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, and Sen. Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, to co-chair the Senate Finance Committee.
On Wednesday they named Sen. Alan Austerman, R-Kodiak, Bunde and Senate Majority Leader Ben Stevens, R-Anchorage, to the committee.
Wagoner, Seekins, Dyson and Stevens also will serve on the Resources Committee, Senate leaders said this week.
Senate Democrats, scheduled to meet Dec. 9 to chose a minority leader, have not submitted their committee assignment requests yet.
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