Flags lowered to honor Alaska’s last territorial governor, services Friday in Fairbanks

Flags lowered to honor Alaska’s last territorial governor, services Friday in Fairbanks

Michael “Mike” Stepovich dies at 94.

Was Alaska Territorial Governor 1957-58.


Photo & Video: Courtesy of Fairbanks Daily News Miner

Alaska flags are flying at half-staff this week to honor the last living territorial governor, Mike Stepovich.

Stepovich died last week at the age of 94. He was in a California hospital after suffering a bad head injury in a fall earlier this month. His services will be held in Fairbanks on Friday. Despite a home in Medford, Stepovich maintained his Alaska residency and returned each summer.

“Alaska has lost a true pioneer,” Governor Parnell said in a press release announcing the death. “Governor Stepovich was a strong, selfless figure. His love for our state is a great legacy that will endure for generations of Alaskan,” he said.

Anchorage Daily News columnist Mike Dunham said that in some ways, Stepovich was the John Kennedy of territorial Alaska. He was optimistic and constantly promoting Alaska and statehood Outside.

Stepovich’s constant promotion of statehood to the American public played an important role,” said Dunham. “No one could see the smiling, handsome young Alaskan charming the panel on “What’s My Line?” without liking him and, by extension, the people whom he represented….Here was proof that Alaskans weren’t just parky-clad hunters, whiskered sourdoughs or capitalist robber barons,” he said.

Stepovich was born in Fairbanks, and served three terms in the Alaska Territorial Legislature before serving as governor from 1957 – 1958. Following his state service, Governor Stepovich returned to his law practice in Fairbanks.

State flags were lowered to half-staff on Valentine’s Day and will remain lowered until Governor Stepovich’s funeral, which the Fairbanks Daily News Miner says will be Friday morning the 28th.  Flags will be raised to full-staff Saturday morning.

Stepovich on Cover of Time Magazine June, 1958. Photo by Mike Dunham ADN.


Anchorage Daily News, Mike Dunham Column

Press Release from Governor Sean Parnell’s Office

National Native News Coverage of Mike Stepovich’s Passing

Stepovich lived in Oregon much of year, still claimed residence in Fairbanks where his service will be

Alaska History Course Online


For a lot of fun and interesting material

on Alaska’s history and early legislators

go to the Alaska Humanity Forum’s


Alaska History & Cultural Studies website.


Governor Parnell: State must pay down pension debt

Alaska State of the State Address 2014

Photo from Gavel Alaska’s video of Alaska 2014 State of the State Address.

The LegHead Report Radio Show for Thurs. Jan 23 State Pension Funding


Alaska’s financial situation is secure, but there is one huge debt looming over Alaskans that must be dealt with. That was a key statement from Alaska Governor Sean Parnell in his State of the State Address to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature.

The big debt is unfunded state pensions and if it is not tackled soon Alaskan will struggle to keep up with an ever-growing burden that sucks more and more available funds from other budget items.

Gov. Sean Parnell’s comments in State of State Address 2014 courtesy of Gavel Alaska.

Governor Sean Parnell speaking during Wednesday’s State of the State Address to the Alaska Legislature. Thanks to Gavel Alaska for today’s audio.


360 North / Gavel Alaska video of Alaska State of the State Address 2014



Representative Beth Kerttula resigns office first day of new session

TLHR Jan 22 Tues Rep Beth Kerttula resigns Juneau SE Districts

 PHOTO Rep Beth Kerttula  from akdemocrats.org   House Democratic Caucus  BK-mug-totem-photo

                The first day of session for the Alaska Legislature saw the usual tradition and First Day formalities, but this year there was an unusual twist.

                House Minority Leader Representative Beth Kerttula announce her resignation from the Alaska House of Representatives to accept a position as Visiting Fellow at the Center for Ocean Solutions at Stanford University in California.

Kerttula’s resignation from the House iseffective Friday, January 24. She begins her new position February 3.

The short notice of her departure caught many off-guard. Not the least of which are her constituents in House District 31 which includes Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway.

At a meeting with reporters following Tuesday’s House Floor Session, House Speaker Mike Chenault, a Republican, praised his Democratic colleague…

Comments from House Press Availability courtesy of Gavel Alaska.

                Representative Beth Kerttula and House Speaker Mike Chenault speaking at a Tuesday Press Availability. Thanks to Gavel Alaska for today’s audio.


Press Release  on Kerttula accepting Stanford University fellowship.


According to Alaska law, the governor has thirty days from the date of the vacancy to appoint a new representative to serve House District 32 which includes downtown Juneau, Douglas Island, Petersburg, Skagway, Gustavus, Tenakee Springs, Excursion Inlet and Hobart Bay. It is longstanding Alaska tradition that the governor select from a list provided by officials of the local party organization for the same party as the departing legislator. In this case, the Tongass Democrats is the local party organization.

Until the governor appoints the new representative, constituents from District 32 can still contact Kerttula’s office for assistance with legislative or other state concerns.

Farewell note to constituents from Beth Kerttula.

VIDEO: House Majority Press Availability with House Speaker Mike Chenault and Rep. Kerttula courtesy Gavel Alaska.


New Session of Alaska Legislature begins Jan. 21

28th Alaska Legislature

Second Session

January 21, 2014 to April 20, 2014

Second Session means:

All bills from last year are still active
New bills can be introduced
ALL old and new bills will die at the end of this session.



The Alaska Legislature gavels into session on Jan. 21st. Legislators have 90 days to take care of business before the session ends on April 20th.

Let’s review how this legislative session stuff works, because it determines the fate of bills being considered this session.

We are heading into what is officially known as the second session of the 28th Alaska Legislature. There are two sessions to each legislature.

It can be confusing because two back-to-back sessions work together as one. Then everything stops and the next two back-to-back legislative sessions work together as one.

I like to think of the 2 sessions as Legislature with a Capital L and a Number. That way when I see it written or hear it the number mentioned I know they are talking about BOTH sessions as a unit.

Knowing what session the legislature is in at a given time, tells you a lot about strategy and politics for the coming session. That’s because of the way the two different sessions work together and how bills and legislation works before, during and after the two sessions.

Here’s how it works. Everything starts fresh first session. Things from the first session live on through the second session. Any measure that isn’t approved by the end of the second session dies. Gonzo. The slate is wiped clean and everything starts fresh again the following year, in year one of the next Numbered Legislature.

Since we are entering the second session of the 28th Legislature that means that all the bills and resolutions that were not approved last year are still there—right where they were left. If they have been heard in three out of five committees they were scheduled for then they still have two more to go.

If a bill was hustled along last year, it could still stall out this year and get stuck in committee while the legislature acts on items it feels is more pressing in these final 90 days of activity.

This also means that if a bill you are interested in is still on the table somewhere, it could be passed this session even if it didn’t see much action last year.

And conversely, if you’ve got a measure you want to see passed, you’d better hustle and get it going. If it doesn’t pass by April 20th, it will die at the end of the session. And you’ll have to start all over again from the beginning next year if you hope to see the measure become law in Alaska.

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