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Nikiski Rep. Carpenter challenged while 'chairing' a 'hearing'

Alaska State Legislature

  House District 29 Rep. Ben Carpenter of Nikiski, just a few weeks into his first term, is feeling pretty comfortable at the head of the table.

Since there is no formal organization yet in the Alaska House, informal meetings are being held, such as one held last week, led by Carpenter. The informal meetings resemble formal hearings quite a bit, but they are not the same, as Carpenter found out when Dist. 21 Rep. Matt Claman of Anchorage ignored a rebuke by the chair, because, well, he said there wasn’t really a chair.

It started as Claman chided Corrections Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom for not having budget figures at the ready.

“I’m a little concerned when the commissioner hasn’t seen a budget nine days before the budget is gonna get released. I would just say there’s like four or five departments…,” said Claman. 

“Please be careful to not impugn the guests here,” Carpenter said, interrupting.

“I don’t think anyone’s being impugned,” said Claman.

“Well, I believe you are,” said Carpenter.”)

Claman persisted, prompting Carpenter to interject again.

“I’m sure once the budget is out we will have that discussion. I am sure,” Carpenter offered.

“I’ll finish my question and comment and then I’ll let you know when I’m done,” Claman replied. 

“Excuse me,” said Carpenter, “I think I am the Chair and you are done.” 

“No I don’t think there is a Chair of this committee,” said Claman. 

“I am a Chair of this committee and you are done,” said Carpenter. “You are done.” 

“At ease, Mr. Chairman?” requested Rep. Tammie Wilson. 

“A brief at-ease,” agreed Carpenter.

The break allowed Carpenter to walk around the table to where Claman sat to have a minute-long face-to-face, after which, Claman continued and the meeting soon wrapped up.

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