Interview: Representative Louise Stutes on her appointment to House Speaker and local issues

Kodiak’s own State Representative Louise Stutes has been elected as Speaker for the Alaska State House. KMXT’s Dylan Simard spoke to her Thursday afternoon to discuss her appointment, local issues of import, and her plans for the legislative session.

D: What is your vision for the future of commercial fishing in Alaska?

LS: Well, it’s certainly changing. I don’t have a crystal ball… As everyone knows, I’m a huge supporter of commercial fishing. And I will remain a huge supporter of commercial fishing. But we also have sport fishing, subsistence fishing, personal use fishing, and when you’re the chair of fisheries, which I have been for six years, you have to take all the fisheries, all the different sectors into account, not just commercial fishing. Truly, though, as anybody that knows me knows, having a husband that’s commercially fished for 40 years, that is near and dear to me.

D: What are your thoughts on the Governor’s recent appointments to the the fish board? Do you think that those should have been brought to floor vote?

LS: Absolutely. Absolutely. To think that we have this year, we will have five Board of Fish members making decisions on the livelihood of many people, none of which have been confirmed by the legislature. There’s something wrong with this picture.

D: So coming off of fishing, what is your plan going forward on the issue of school bond debt reimbursements?

LS: I’m Speaker of the House. But there’s 39 other members that participate in this conversation. So speaking for myself, personally, it was a deal the state made. Obviously, it’s always based on an appropriation and it’s an annual appropriation. I think that it’s appropriate that the state hold up their fair share; I also am very cognizant of the deficit this state currently has. So it all plays in to one result and what that is, at this point, I can’t tell you what it’s going to be.

D: Okay, so what do you expect to accomplish during this upcoming and current legislative session?

LS: What I expect to accomplish is bringing the House together and moving forward as a unit to protect the services that Alaskans want and need, to have a sustainable budget that Alaskans deserve and to move forward.

D: Is there anything else in particular you’d like to say towards people in general or perhaps our local listeners here in Kodiak?

LS: I look forward to working with everyone. I have high hopes of being instrumental in bringing the House together. That’s that’s what I hope for the future of the State of Alaska and Alaskans… and moving forward.

….

Stutes’ election was decided on a 21-19 vote, with Rep. Kelly Merrick of Eagle River being the tie-breaker. Stutes will be the first Speaker of the House from the Kodiak district, and only the third woman.

 

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