Alaska Legislature confirms all of the governor’s commissioners, board appointees

The Alaska Legislature confirmed all of the governor's cabinet and board appointees, but some attracted debate.
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 3:41 PM AKDT
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Legislature has confirmed all of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s appointees to lead state departments, and for boards and commissions.

In a joint session on Wednesday, the Legislature unanimously confirmed the governor’s three picks for his cabinet who were up for a vote. Commissioners Paula Vrana of the Department of Administration, Ryan Anderson of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and Julie Sande of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, were all confirmed quickly and without debate.

There were 70 other appointees who needed to be confirmed by a majority of the 60-member Alaska Legislature. The vast majority sailed through on unanimous votes.

The most heated debate, and closest vote, was for Ramsey Bell, an appointee to the Board of Pharmacy. Legislators spoke about Bell’s support for ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. Legislative committees received opposition testimony to her confirmation from several other pharmacists.

Alaska Public Media reported in October that the Board of Pharmacy had become a battleground over COVID-19 treatments and ivermectin, in particular, which the Food and Drug Administration says should not be used to treat COVID-19.

Rep. Ken McCarty, R-Eagle River, spoke in favor of Bell’s ability to “think outside the box.” Sen. Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, was opposed to her appointment, arguing that she had been spreading misinformation on COVID-19. Bell was confirmed on a 33 -24 vote, which is two votes more than is needed to be confirmed to a state board or commission.

Last year, an appointee to the powerful Board of Fisheries was rejected over objections from Bristol Bay commercial fishermen. This year, three appointees were unanimously confirmed to serve three-year terms on the seven-member board.

Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, initially objected to the three appointees, saying that Bristol Bay again does not have representation on the board in charge of allocating fisheries resources across Alaska. He said that was “a grave oversight.”

There was some debate over the governor’s choices for who should sit on the Board of Game, the regulatory body in charge of making allocation decisions for the state’s wildlife resources.

There were three appointees chosen by the governor and some concerns expressed that all three had guiding licenses and may not represent other groups that hunt in Alaska. All three were confirmed with only a handful of legislators voting against their appointments.

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