Alaska House elects temporary speaker

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – The Latest on the Alaska Legislature (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

The Alaska House has elected a temporary speaker.

On a vote of 35-4, House members supported Nome Democratic Rep. Neal Foster for the job.

The only other nomination for temporary speaker was Big Lake Republican Rep. Mark Neuman.

One of Foster’s first actions in the role was to recognize the nomination of Republican Sharon Jackson for a vacant House seat and to swear her in.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed Jackson to replace Republican Nancy Dahlstrom, who won the Eagle River-area seat in November but became Dunleavy’s corrections commissioner before the legislative session started.

9:25 a.m.

The 39 current Alaska House members have signed a letter supporting continued funding for session staff until the House gets organized.

The House lacks an organized majority and was warned by the Legislature’s human resources manager last week that a temporary staffing authorization was to expire the first day of session, which was Tuesday.

The letter signed by lawmakers seeks to authorize continued pay for workers hired under the prior temporary authority while the House works toward organizing.

Reps. Gabrielle LeDoux and Cathy Tilton would have to jointly approve hiring of any additional staff. Their joint authority would expire once the House is organized.

A message seeking comment was left for the executive director of the Legislative Affairs Agency.

AP-WF-01-17-19 2334GMT