UA Actively Engaged at Capitol

Feb. 12 was the 25th day of the Legislative Session. After three and a half weeks, the state House of Representatives took another step towards organization last Thursday in electing Representative Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) to serve as Speaker of the House.

Stutes, a Republican, has previously caucused with Democrats in forming a bipartisan majority in the House. Earlier this session she signaled her intention to do so again during the 32nd Alaska Legislature. The House has been split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats, independents and Rep. Stutes. This divide has stymied the organization process which would allow House lawmakers to begin their work. The surprise break in the gridlock came when Representative Kelly Merrick (R-Eagle River) gave Stutes the necessary vote to be elected Speaker by a vote of 21-19. Despite this show of support, Rep. Merrick has announced that she has not joined the Democrat-led caucus. This means that while a Speaker has been elected, the House remains divided without a majority to govern. We expect this situation to evolve further in the coming days.

President Pitney Meets with Legislators

UA Interim President Pat Pitney was active in the Capitol last week meeting with lawmakers and presenting to UA’s Senate Finance Subcommittee. The President briefed lawmakers on UA’s strategic goals and legislative priorities, and talked about the important role the university has in the state’s economy. She also met with several freshman legislators who are alumni, and discussed how UA programs and research help move our state forward. President Pitney also presented before Senate Finance. You can view the Senate Finance Subcommittee here.

UA Alumni Virtual Fly-In

Last week UA’s three alumni associations held a virtual fly-in with legislators. They maintained a busy schedule of legislative meetings. Alumni met with more than 40 legislators and staff communicating UA’s value, telling personal stories and advocating on UA’s behalf. Alumni interest and enthusiasm is incredibly impactful and a valuable part of the legislative process. Thank you to the alumni who participated, and to the wonderful staff for helping plan and coordinate this year’s event.

Did You Know?

Last Sunday marks the anniversary of the signing of the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act. The act, championed by Elizabeth Peratovich, addressed discrimination in public accommodations and facilities around Alaska. When adopted, the legislation was the first of its kind in the U.S. The act was groundbreaking and paved the way for similar legislation including the federal Civil Rights Act.