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State House selects temporary speaker

House still not organized, but a step toward permanence
Rep. Josiah Patkotak, I-Utqiagvik, was elected speaker pro tempore of the Alaska House of...
Rep. Josiah Patkotak, I-Utqiagvik, was elected speaker pro tempore of the Alaska House of Representatives on Feb. 4, 2021. (Gavel to Gavel)((KTOO))
Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 1:57 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska House of Representatives has finally settled on a temporary speaker. Rep. Josiah Patkotak, I - Utqiagvik, was approved unanimously as speaker pro tempore in a 39-0 vote Thursday morning.

The freshman lawmaker represents House District 40, which covers the majority of Alaska’s rural Arctic regions. The sprawling district covers portions of the northern edge of the Seward Peninsula, with Deering and Kotzebue, west to Point Hope, north to Utqiagvik and east to the Canadian Border.

Speaker pro tempore is a temporary position, and the House of Representatives still does not have a clear majority caucus. The House has not yet selected committees. Patkotak will oversee the nomination and voting process to select a permanent House Speaker.

“I am humbled and honored to serve in this capacity during my first year in office, and I remain committed to the Bush Caucus as we work to achieve a permanent organization in the House. I thank God for this opportunity,” Patkotak said in a statement released by the House.

For the past two legislative sessions, the House has been led by a Coalition consisting of Democrats, Independents and Republicans. Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I - Dillingham, was the House Speaker leading the body for those four years. Edgmon is also a member of the Alaska Bush Caucus, with Patkotak and other rural Alaskan representatives.

Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer had been leading House sessions in the interim.

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