Gov. Mike Dunleavy                                        Credit: Matt Buxton, The Midnight Sun blog

Alaska judge refuses to invalidate Dunleavy appointments

Associated Press

January 11, 2021

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A judge has refused to invalidate more than 90 appointments made by Gov. Mike Dunleavy who haven’t been confirmed by Alaska lawmakers.

The Legislative Council, composed of House and Senate leaders, argued appointments presented by Dunleavy early last year lapsed in December after lawmakers failed to act on them. The council asked Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg to block Dunleavy from continuing with those appointments and from reappointing people to posts until the start of the next legislative session on Jan. 19.

Pallenberg on Friday ruled the requirements for an injunction had not been met. The underlying case remains active.

House and Senate lawmakers typically consider confirmations during a regular legislative session but amid COVID-19 concerns last year passed a law allowing them to adjourn and take up confirmations later.

The law said if lawmakers didn’t act on the appointments either a month after an initial pandemic disaster declaration expired or by Jan. 18 — whichever was first — that amounted to them declining to confirm those people. The declaration ended Nov. 15.

Attorneys for the state raised constitutional concerns with that provision.

Megan Wallace, director of Legislative Legal Services, said her side remains confident the court will ultimately rule in the Legislature’s favor.