JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold was removed as Senate Judiciary Committee chair Monday, 91 days into a legislative session in which she has frequently clashed with fellow Republicans, including other Senate majority members and Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
Reinbold said she told leadership she could not “pinpoint a specific concern from the random and isolated thoughts expressed by caucus members that would support a legitimate reason” to remove her as chair. She suggested the Dunleavy administration played a role and pleaded with senators to reject what she called an unnecessary action.
The committee change was approved 17-1, with Reinbold the lone no. She was replaced as chair by Anchorage Republican Sen. Roger Holland and is no longer on that committee.
Senate President Peter Micciche told reporters the decision had nothing to do with Dunleavy’s administration and was unrelated to the COVID-19 protocols at the Capitol that Reinbold has bristled against and fought over with members of leadership.
“This is entirely based on decorum and the mutual respect that’s expected as we operate in this building,” Micciche said. He did not detail any specific incidents but said the “vast majority” of the Republican-led caucus has had concerns.
Reinbold remains part of the majority caucus, and the caucus is “proud to have her as a part of our team,” Micciche said. He likened the change at committee chair to sometimes having to pull a “star pitcher” from a game, “and you look forward to the point where they’re back on the mound. That is our position.”
Micciche said he hopes the change at committee chair is temporary. Reinbold retains other committee posts, including serving as vice chair of the Legislative Council.
Jeff Turner, a Dunleavy spokesperson, in an email said Monday’s Senate action “was an internal legislative matter that did not involve the Dunleavy administration.”
Dunleavy in February accused Reinbold of misrepresenting Alaska’s COVID-19 response and said members of his administration would not participate in hearings she led. Reinbold called Dunleavy’s reaction “outlandish” and demanded an apology.
Turner in March said there was a lot of legislative work to get done and the administration “would work with any committee chair to provide the information they need.”
Dunleavy’s nominee for attorney general, Treg Taylor, has since appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation hearings.