Rep. Knopp holding out for broader coalition caucus

Dec 11, 2018

Kenai’s representative to the State House shocked the political establishment over the weekend by announcing he would not serve in a majority caucus unless it was a coalition with House Democrats.

Rep. Gary Knopp says a caucus with a slim or one-vote majority is essentially doomed.

“Them simple majorities like that simply don’t work. And therefore lies the need for a bi-party coalition,” Knopp said. “And what we want to do is create a true, a true bi-party coalition, evenly balanced. Leadership will be three Republican and three Democrat, and the rest of the configuration will be about as equal as you can possibly get.”

Knopp’s actions stem from frustration at the lack of organization, with the session about a month away.

“Recognizing that we’re less than 30 days away from going to Juneau, with two major holidays in front of us, we’ve hired no staff, background checks have not been done, no office assignments have been done, floor assignments haven’t been done,” he said. “Everything that has to happen prior to going to session hasn’t happened.”

Knopp says his minimum size for a majority coalition caucus is 24 members, though he would like it to be even larger.

“The coalition comes with some guiding principles, things we will not address, such as oil and gas legislation, broad-based taxes. Things we will address: crime reform, Permanent Fund Dividend, the budget,” Knopp said. “And then, minimal personal legislation, so we can take care of the very important stuff and move forward.”

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Knopp says talks are underway, privately among State House members, and that many are awaiting an Alaska Supreme Court ruling on the outcome of House Dist. 1 in Fairbanks to speak openly about a coalition.