Sen. Lyman Hoffman joins Senate majority caucus as lone Democrat

Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, during a Senate Finance Committee meeting, March 29, 2016. (Photo by Skip Gray, 360 North)

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta will have a voice in the new Senate majority.

Leaders announced the members of the majority caucus on Monday. Democratic Sen. Lyman Hoffman of Bethel will be in the caucus as the majority’s lone Democrat. Otherwise, the caucus is all Republicans. Sen. Hoffman will be a majority member of the Senate Finance Committee, though not as a co-chairman, a position he had held since 2007.

“Sen. Hoffman brings years of experience and is a strong advocate for rural Alaska,” said Senate President Cathy Giessel in a press release from the Senate majority. “I am pleased to welcome this esteemed member of the Alaska Senate to our ranks.”

The Senate majority has named “passing a responsible budget, on-time,” as its top priority. To do that, the Senate is expanding its finance committee from seven to nine seats. Republican Sen. Bert Stedman of Sitka and Republican Sen. Natasha Von Imhof of Anchorage will co-chair. Senate minority caucus members will fill the two added seats.

Majority members who do not vote for the majority budget will not be automatically removed from the caucus. However, according to a press release from the Senate majority, the caucus will consider consequences for dissenting members.