by Rhonda McBride
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The 26th session of the Alaska State Legislature began Tuesday.
When the House gaveled in at 1 p.m. the ceremony was in keeping with tradition. But there's one change from past sessions -- the House has a super majority, made up of four rural Democrats who joined the bipartisan work group.
For the second session in a row the Senate also had a bipartisan majority coalition.
Leadership in both branches hope that these super majorities will lead to more bipartisan cooperation. That is especially important now with the price of oil dropping and budget gaps growing.
"We've got to look out for the interests of the State of Alaska and try to include all of Alaska, and not just certain areas," Speaker of the House Mike Chenault of Kenai said. "So you know, as we go through it, I just hope that unity is probably a word that we could use to try and unify Alaska. And I think certainly our caucus, with the addition of some of the rural legislators, is a great benefit -- not only to our caucus, but to allow everyone to have their voices."