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U.S. Congress 2019-2020: Bills that have passed the House & Senate and become Law

U.S. Congress 2019-2020: Bills Introduced (Over 5,000 in the House and over 3,000 in the Senate)

 

Alaska: Governor Dunleavy Gives FY21 Budget a Mixed Grade Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - Early Sunday morning, the 31st Alaska State Legislature recessed after finishing work on the FY 2021 Operating and Capital Budget, the FY 2020 Supplemental Budget, and extending the Public Health Emergency Disaster Declaration for COVID-19. 

Governor Mike Dunleavy stated in a news release that he appreciates the fact that lawmakers worked quickly to pass a budget and, that certain funding was included to combat aspects of the pandemic and the associated economic fallout. However, the Governor feels the legislature missed the mark by not including a cash infusion that many leading economists believe should be implemented as quickly as possible.  

“Thousands of Alaskans are out of work through no fault of their own, due to the government pausing most economic activity to slow the spread of the disease,” said Governor Dunleavy. “It would appear lawmakers missed the opportunity to create a cash infusion from the earnings reserve account into the hands of Alaskans, like hairdressers and restaurant workers, that could have happened in as little as two weeks. I am quite frankly puzzled why they would not do that.” 

“The vast majority of economists worldwide, as well as the President of the United States, and almost every member of congress understand how a quick injection of cash into the hands of workers will do more to stabilize the economy than any other approach at this time. My administration will continue to work closely with Alaska’s congressional delegation and the White House on how to maximize the benefit of the federal emergency relief package here in Alaska,” added Governor Dunleavy.

The Alaska Legislature Saturday evening passed the state’s capital and operating budgets, House Bill 205, with a 23-13 vote, and funded the bill with a supermajority (three-quarters) vote of 30-6. The three-quarters vote accessed the Constitutional Budget Reserve.The bill also provides a $1,000 Permanent Fund dividend for each eligible Alaskan this fall. However, the bill did not include a cash infusion or early PFD stimulus funds.

“As the number of Alaskans who test positive for the COVID-19 virus grows, the Senate worked feverishly to craft a budget that would provide statewide community assistance and a give the governor the resources his administration needs,” said Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “We saw the urgency and acted swiftly.

“This bill gives the governor broad authority to protect Alaskans,” said Senator John Coghill, (R-North Pole). “The Legislature is watching the situation closely and has made provisions for the next few months for assistance where we anticipated a need.” 

The legislation protects Alaska’s first responders and healthcare providers, establishes a temporary path to increase the number of licensed professionals, and helps Alaska’s small businesses weather the economic impacts.

“It’s been one heck of a year for Alaskans, and it’s only March,” said Senator Natasha von Imhof (R-Anchorage) co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “At a time when Alaskans are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table, this budget leverages nearly one billion dollars in federal funding for a capital budget that will provide good-paying jobs critical to our state’s economy.”

“This budget provides for the immediate needs of Alaska’s families and businesses,” said Senate President Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage). “I am proud of my colleagues in the House and Senate for their diligent work on this budget under challenging circumstances. The Legislature is committed to doing all we can to protect Alaskans from the health and economic impacts of this pandemic.”  

According to the Alaska House Republicans, in what they describe as a stunning late-night floor session on Saturday, the Alaska Senate and House Majorities forced a vote on the FY21 budget that risked emergency COVID-19 funding to protect their own political agendas.

“Folks are thinking about surviving,” said Rep. Ben Carpenter (R-Nikiski) as he questioned why the majorities would remove the stimulus package from the budget. “This bill fails to take care of our people…and I cannot support it.”

“Stimulus could have been one of the most important things we did for the people of Alaska all year,” Rep. Dave Talerico (R-Healy) added.

“Alaskans need aid NOW. The COVID-aid payment from the Permanent Fund would have been the fastest way to deliver that aid – cash that would help keep these families out of financial ruin,” said Rep. DeLena Johnson (R-Palmer), House Minority Whip. “But we didn’t do that."

“Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel famously said, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste'," said Rep. Cathy Tilton (R-Chugiak/Mat-Su). “Using the $75 million COVID response money as a leverage point is shameful. That money is intended to be used for venues like the Alaska Airline’s Center as triage facilities.”

“We are in unprecedented times, and yet our budget is larger than ever,” added Rep. Sarah Vance (R-Homer). “Our spending is increasing as if nothing has happened to our revenues. That almost wipes out our savings account.”

“Until yesterday, this was just a budget,” said Rep. Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage). “This bill was intended as a quick-response measure to combat COVID-19, but it left the Senate prioritizing everything but COVID-19 emergency triage centers. For the first time, I was embarrassed to be a member of this body. We could have solved this with conversations, we could have listened to others’ concerns. Instead, we are jeopardizing lives for political gain. It didn’t have to be this way.”

The Alaska House Majority Coalition says the budget provides critical funding that will allow the State of Alaska to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis, ensures that essential services will continue operating uninterrupted in the upcoming fiscal year, and funds a $1,000 Permanent Fund Dividend this fall. An additional PFD stimulus was not included.

“Alaskans take care of Alaskans,” House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) said. “That’s never been truer than during the COVID-19 crisis, and we saw another example today as we set aside our differences and worked together as a unified Legislature to pass a budget in record time and ensure that essential services will continue without interruption.” - More...
Sunday PM - March 29, 2020

Ketchikan - Statewide: Alaska COVID-19 Cases To Date 114 ; Third Alaska Death Reported Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Sunday announced 12 new cases of COVID-19 in six Alaska communities – Anchorage (4), Eagle River (1), Fairbanks (4), North Pole (1), Juneau (1) and Ketchikan (1). Total case count as of Sunday evening is 114. Total case count to date in Ketchikan is 13.

As of Sunday, of the 13 Ketchikan positive cases, 2 are travel-related, 1 is non-travel related and 10 are close contact related according to the Alaska Department of Health.

DHSS also reported Sunday evening the third death of an Alaskan from COVID-19. The individual was a 73-year-old Anchorage resident. The patient was tested on March 23, 2020 and admitted to an Anchorage hospital and passed away on Saturday evening , March 28, 2020. 

Five of Sunday's new Alaska cases are older adults (60+); two are adults aged 30-59; four are younger adults aged 19-29 and one is under 18.  Six are female and six are male. Six of the cases are close contacts of previously diagnosed cases; one is travel-related and five are still under investigation. 

So far the communities in Alaska that have had laboratory-confirmed cases include Anchorage (including JBER), Eagle River/Chugiak, Girdwood, Fairbanks, North Pole, Homer, Juneau, Ketchikan, Palmer, Seward, Soldotna and Sterling. - More...
Sunday PM - March 29, 2020


 
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Ketchikan - Statewide: First In-state Alaskan Death from COVID-19; Statewide Total 89 Confirmed Cases; Ketchikan Total 12 Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) reported Friday afternoon the state’s first in-state death related to COVID-19. 

This is the second Alaska death. The first Alaska resident to have died from COVID-19 was a resident of Southeast Alaska who died on March 16 at a health care facility in King County, Washington, after a prolonged stay there.

 “Our hearts go out to the deceased's friends and family members,” said DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum. “We are also thinking of the health care providers who cared for this patient. We will continue to work tirelessly with our federal, state, local and Tribal partners to effectively respond to this crisis.”

The individual who died Friday was a 63-year-old person with underlying health conditions. The deceased was receiving treatment at an Anchorage hospital and had tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on March 25. 

“As we grieve this loss, we need to collectively resolve to do our part to prevent the spread of this virus,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. “This is an unfortunate reminder that COVID-19 is a life-threatening illness.”

In addition to the announcement of the second Alaska death, DHSS announced 16 new positive cases in six Alaska communities – Anchorage (9), Girdwood (1), Fairbanks (3), North Pole (1), Juneau (1), and Ketchikan (1). This brings Alaska's total case count to 85.

Nine of Friday's new cases are male; seven are female. Eight of the new cases are adults, seven are aged 19-29 and one is a child. Nine of the cases are close contacts of previously diagnosed cases, one is travel-related and six are still under investigation.  - More...
Saturday AM - March 28, 2020

Alaska: Governor Issues COVID-19 Health Mandates on Social Distancing, Limiting Intrastate Travel – Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) on Friday issued the State of Alaska’s 11th and 12th COVID-19 Health Mandates to protect the public health of Alaskans and disrupt the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 Health Mandate 011: Social Distancing: “All persons in Alaska, except for those engaged in essential health care services, public government services, and essential business activities, are mandated to remain at their place of residence and practice social distancing,” effective March 28, 2020 at 5:00pm. The mandate will be reevaluated by April 11, 2020.

Mandate 011 orders individuals to practice social distancing, orders closure of non-essential businesses, and orders employers to take reasonable precautions.

COVID-19 Health Mandate 012: Intrastate Travel: “All in-state travel between communities, whether resident, worker, or visitor, is prohibited unless travel is to support critical infrastructure; or for critical personal needs,” effective March 28, 2020 at 8:00am. The mandate will be reevaluated by April 11, 2020. - More...
Saturday AM - March 28, 2020

Fish Factor: US seafood industry gets $300 million in COVID-19 relief, hopes for more protections By LAINE WELCH - The U.S. seafood industry received a $300 million assist from the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress on March 27, and a wide coalition of industry stakeholders is hoping for more. 

Fishery recipients in the relief bill include tribes, persons, communities, processors, aquaculture and other related businesses. SeafoodNews.com reports that those eligible for relief must have “revenue losses greater than 35 percent as compared to the prior 5-year average revenue, or any negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial fisheries.”

The funds will be provided on a rolling basis within a fishing season through September 30, 2021. Two percent can be used for administration and oversight activities.

The package follows a bipartisan letter sent on March 23 to Congress by Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markie of Massachusetts and Alaska’s Republican Senators Murkowski and Sullivan.. They asked, among other things, that fishermen be able to collect unemployment insurance, get help with vessel loan payments and ensure that the global pandemic does not compromise management of U.S. fisheries.  - More...
Saturday AM - March 28, 2020


 

Alaska - National: President Trump Signs $2 Trillion Emergency Spending Bill Posted/Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN . - President Trump signed the historic $2 trillion economic relief package into law Friday afternoon amounting to the largest emergency spending measure in U.S. history. The CARES Act was signed by President Trump after the House of Representatives passed the historic $2.2 trillion economic relief package by an overwhelming voice vote Friday. The Senate approved the measure Wednesday evening with a 96-0 vote.

President Trump thanked Republicans and Democrats for coming together, setting aside their differences, and putting America first.

What does it mean? 

American families, healthcare workers, and small businesses will get the economic support they need to get through this challenging time. That includes $1,200 payments to qualifying Americans, $100 billion in direct support for hospitals, and over $370 billion to small business owners to keep their employees on the payroll.
 
Alaska Congressman Don Young (R-AK) was on the House Floor earlier Friday for the quorum call and the subsequent passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

 "The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact families across our country, not only in terms of their physical wellbeing, but also their financial health. Countless families in Alaska have been forced to stay home or laid off, but the bills continue piling up. Today [Friday], I went to the House Floor and was present for the quorum call as we passed the CARES ACT. The legislation passed out of the House [Friday] is crucially needed, and will help our nation's most vulnerable make ends meet," said Congressman Don Young (R-AK).

Young said, "Too many families have found themselves suffering from unemployment or underemployment through no fault of their own. [Friday's] bill takes necessary steps to support Americans through this challenging time. Individuals and families will receive direct cash payments; grants and loans will be available to help our small businesses meet payroll and rent; unemployment insurance will be temporarily expanded, and distressed industries that employ thousands of Americans will receive support. The CARES Act also provides needed support for our Native communities by providing funding to help health care providers, schools, and communities mitigate the impacts of COVID-19." - More...
Saturday AM - March 28, 2020

Southeast Alaska: Changes to the Inter-Island Ferry Authority Schedule in Response to COVID-19 - Starting on March 28th, the Inter-Island Ferry Authority (IFA) will implement a 4-day per week schedule. Ferry service between Prince of Wales and Ketchikan will operate on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays only, and passenger service will be limited to essential travel.

Essential travel includes people returning home, traveling for critical medical care, and those transporting essential goods and services. The total number of passengers permitted on board has been reduced by 75% to allow for sufficient social distancing. With ferry capacity limited, reservations are recommended and can be secured online at interislandferry.com. Ferry departure and arrival times remain unchanged. While terminals will be closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, IFA agents remain available by phone at 866-308-4848 seven days a week.

The IFA has taken additional measures to ensure the health and safety of onboard passengers. In addition to continual disinfection of surfaces, ship crew will be deep cleaning the ferry on non-sailing days. Galley food service will have a limited menu and will serve only “take-out” foods. Passenger screening measures have been implemented, and the IFA requests that people check-in early. The IFA will continue to monitor the situation and will provide more updates as additional changes are implemented.

“These are unprecedented times and we are committed to our employees, elders and passengers for their safety and essential travel.” explains Ron Curtis General Manager of the Inter-Island Ferry Authority. “We are working diligently to preserve the health of our communities, customers, and staff.” - More...
Saturday AM - March 28, 2020


jpg A male red fox returns to a den with a snowshoe hare in spring 2019.

The secret life of a red fox family
By NED ROZELL
A male red fox returns to a den with a snowshoe hare in spring 2019.
Photo By NED ROZELL


 

Alaska: The secret life of a red fox family By NED ROZELL - One year ago, in a world with the same mountains and valleys but feeling very different, we made a discovery.

My wife, daughter, two neighbor kids, three dogs and I were out enjoying the freedom of crust skiing, when cold overnight temperatures freeze a melting snow pack. A hard top layer allows skiing anywhere, not just the trail system.

We skated between spruce trees to a cold spot about a mile from home, where a small hill of poplar trees and rose bushes rises from surrounding low tundra plants. There, we noticed a hole in the hill at knee level. The snow at the entrance to the opening was dirty, with tracks we couldn’t identify.

At that moment, I found a use for the trail camera my wife had just given me for my birthday. The next morning, we returned. I strapped the camera to a skinny spruce, aiming it at the hill.

Less than three hours later, the motion-sensitive camera snapped its first image: A red fox had emerged from the hole, sniffing at the ground where humans and dogs had shuffled the day before.

It felt like the woods had just whispered a secret. I hoped our many-legged presence there would not make the fox abandon its den site.

t did not, and over the next year, we saw the secret life of a red fox family.

At the beginning, in late March 2019, there were two characters in the drama: the dark-eyed female, smaller of body, her sides black as well as orange; and the dashing male. He was larger, his coat a brilliant orange, with black highlights on his flowing tail, feet and ears.

Both foxes were small by dog standards, with the female probably about the same weight — 12 pounds — as our Chihuahua mix, Pepe. The foxes’ flowing tails make them seem much larger.

One day after I installed the camera, the handsome male appeared. In his mouth was a ball of white fluff — a snowshoe hare. Hares became a common site on the still images, with both foxes returning to the den with one about every other day. Red squirrels were often in the foxes’ mouths, too. They probably returned with many voles, but they were too small to see.

That the foxes were returning to the den, especially with food, was a hint that the female was pregnant. - More...
Saturday AM - March 28, 2020


Alaskan Solace

Alaskan solace
By MARY CATHARINE MARTIN
Salmonberries hang fat from a bush on a recent summer.
Photo by Mary Catharine Martin
 

 

Alaska:
Alaskan solace By MARY CATHARINE MARTIN - So many Alaskans are in crisis this month. Villages closed to outside travel. Restaurants and “non-essential” business shut down. People who have lost their jobs, who can’t find work. The growing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. And one of the most difficult things about this time of necessary social distancing is that if we, or our loved ones, are suffering, it’s harder, or impossible, to be with them and support them — except at a distance.

One of the biggest helps for me, in all of this, is the vast outdoors and clean air, water and land we have all around us in Alaska. I’ve spent too much time recently staring at my computer, reading news articles and worrying about people I love. So this last weekend, during an incredibly welcome blue sky day in Southeast Alaska, my partner, our baby, our dog and I set out on a walk into some sunlit, snowy alpine meadows in the Tongass National Forest.

The area we chose to hike isn’t the most pristine in the Tongass. It was heavily logged and mined more than a hundred years ago, and lower down, many trees are small and sickly looking. But the trail leads up into vast, open, snowy meadows. For that reason, it’s a favorite of cross country skiers, snow machiners, and us — walkers who carry snow shoes. To the right are views of Grandchild Ridge, a line of mountains where we camped one of my recent birthdays. To the left is Lynn Canal and the perpetual view of islands and water that any Southeast Alaska hiker knows.

As we walked, I thought about a few things, but foremost among them was how lucky we are to live in Alaska, where this kind of outdoors experience is even a possibility. Down south and in some more crowded locations, people are being advised to avoid trails — so many people are flocking to them that it’s the opposite of social distancing.

The calendar may say it’s spring, but here in Southeast Alaska, we’re only just starting to see and hear the signs of it. Crocuses emerging from frozen soil. Flocks of pine siskins twittering overhead. The call of the varied thrush, which a Juneau poet I know once referred to as “the rusty gates of spring re-opening,” is something that fills me with contentment to hear. I keep waiting for the hooting of a sooty grouse; each year, I look forward to walking up into the forest in search of them and making grouse soup and grouse stock — a wilder and healthier version of chicken soup.

We Alaskans, Americans and the rest of the world face uncharted waters in the months ahead. Hardworking Alaskans whose businesses, and jobs, are suddenly uncertain. Fisheries that might not be able to find essential workers for canneries and processors, and who face challenges trying to sell their fish once they catch it. Tourism-focused businesses that might not have clients. And that’s thinking only of the economic consequences of the pandemic, not the health consequences, which are very real and are growing. I’m worried for the elderly people I love. I’m worried for the many, and incredibly selfless and brave, family and friends who work in Alaska hospitals. - More...
Saturday AM - March 28, 2020


 
COLUMNS
jpg RICH MANIERI

RICH MANIERI: REASSURANCE IN THE MIDST OF CORONAVIRUS CRISIS - One of my many bosses in TV news once told me the media’s job is to reassure the public. I can’t remember the context, though I do remember dutifully nodding my head.

What did I know? I was 22 and reassurance sounded like a good thing.

Today, I’m not sure if reassurance is or has ever been the media’s responsibility. If it is, we’re doing a lousy job of it. I feel a lot of things when I turn on CNN or Fox News for the latest coronavirus update. Reassured isn’t among them.

In fact, if I look back at my own career of covering snowstorms, hurricanes and various other emergencies, I don’t recall being very reassuring. Of course, in my defense, it’s difficult to be reassuring when you can’t feel your feet or you’re dodging a flying a stop sign.

However, here and now, as you scour the countryside for toilet paper and biscuits, I am going to honor my news director of long ago and do my very best to reassure you.

While COVID-19 needs to be taken seriously, we’re not going to run out of food or other essentials. Sure, there’s a burgeoning black market for Charmin and hand sanitizer but I’m reasonably confident the shelves will be restocked and Americans will, once again, return to the good ol’ days of practicing shoddy hygiene. - More...
Saturday AM - March 28, 2020

jpg RAY HAYNES

RAY HAYNES: CONSUMERS SPARED AS LIBERAL PROVISIONS FAIL TO MAKE CORONAVIRUS RESCUE PACKAGE- Consumers who need access to credit during coronavirus crisis and other emergencies faced a very close call this week when some in Congress tried to sneak a provision into the COVID-19 economic rescue package that would have limited options for consumer cash and credit at the worst possible time. Policymakers who understand the devastating impact so-called rate caps have on workers and families ensured the coronavirus rescue package did not include one.

While consumers were spared for the moment, as Congress considers additional initiatives to rescue the U.S. economy, it’s clear Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House progressives will not, to paraphrase Rahm Emanuel, let the global COVID-19 crisis go to waste.

Speaker Pelosi and her followers doubled down on legislative proposals full of billions of dollars of handouts and subsidies, despite intense criticism for their previous bloated, bailout-rich coronavirus “relief” packages, now known as #coronapork. Members of Congress, analysts, watchdog groups and many others sounded the alarm about giveaways to special interests and progressive pet projects such as the Green New Deal, the USPS, student debt forgiveness and financial “reform” wish list items that would hurt the very consumers their supporters claim they want to help. - More...
Saturday AM - March 28, 2020

jpg Political Cartoon: Stimulus checks to Americans

Political Cartoon: Stimulus checks to Americans
By Dave Granlund ©2020, PoliticalCartoons.com
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


      

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jpg Opinion

Alaska Revenue Update By Rep. Dan Ortiz - The State of Alaska has been operating at a deficit. This is nothing new and has been the primary challenge for the Legislature over the past five years. However, this year, some new wrenches were thrown into the equation: decreasing oil prices and the stock market. Unfortunately, the State of Alaska revenue comes almost solely from those two sources.

For decades, oil covered over 80% of our budget until oil prices and production decreased and we began relying on savings and the Percent of Market Value (POMV) draw. Now, oil accounts for approximately 20% of our revenue. Despite that decrease, oil price and production are still vitally important to our revenue. Our original Fiscal Year 2020 Revenue Forecast assumed $63 per barrel for oil, but that is no longer the case. We have been hovering under $30 per barrel for multiple days, which impacts our current budget (FY2020). We are now assuming a reduction of about $300 million for FY20. If prices stay low, which we expect, it will also impact the budget we are currently working on for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2021. The original forecast for FY21 was $59 per barrel, but we now assume $40 per barrel, which is a decrease in revenue of about $550 million. Those are optimistic numbers, and I expect our loss of revenue to actually be much more. - More...
Monday PM - March 23, 2020

jpg Opinion

Ketchikan Borough Mayor's Message By Rodney Dial - As many of you know, yesterday a confirmed COVID-19 case was discovered in Ketchikan. As a result, several individuals who had contact with this individual, including myself, are now in a 14-day quarantine. Many more are choosing to self- isolate at home out of an abundance of caution.

As such, many people in our community will be in quarantine until early April. Based upon available information regarding this virus, it is very possible that others in our community had/have the virus before the confirmed case was known. We knew this was coming and there will be few, if any, locations in the world that will not be impacted before this is over. We are also likely to see additional cases in Ketchikan in the future.

Ketchikan citizens should take comfort in the following: - More...
Thursday PM - March 19, 2020

jpg Opinion

Through it all Alaskans prevail together By Governor Michael Dunleavy - As our nation and the world experiences the life-altering impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to take a moment to speak to you directly. If you’ve followed our many press conferences this week, you know that Alaska is rapidly preparing for an outbreak, and that an emergency was declared prior to our first confirmed case.

Now that the inevitable first case has occurred, our schools are safely closed, testing requirements have been liberalized, and steps have been taken to protect our seniors. Visitation has been suspended or limited at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, Alaska Military Youth Academy, Department of Corrections’ facilities, and the Alaska Pioneer Homes.

But ultimately, we know that this virus will spread. For America, experts believe the worst is yet to come. While we will undoubtedly slow the rate of infection with our diligent mitigation efforts, many Alaskans will be infected.

Most will recover, but others, despite our best preventive efforts, will suffer life-threatening complications. It’s vital to acknowledge that each of our decisions in the coming days and weeks will directly affect these numbers. Follow Dr. Zink’s guidelines, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and do not put vulnerable populations at risk. These small, albeit inconvenient changes, will save lives.

As I’ve said many times this week, it’s equally important that we do not live in fear of the virus. Our response should be steady and practical. I’m confident Alaskans will approach this challenge as we’ve always done – with determination, ingenuity, and compassion for our neighbors. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 17, 2020

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Coronavirus Update By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Last week, Alaska had its first case of the Coronavirus: a cargo pilot traveling through Anchorage. With the amount of travel that Alaskans have done over the last month, it is likely that there are more untested and unverified cases already here.

There is certainly no need to panic, but let’s err on the side of caution. One thing you can do is stay informed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website updated multiple times per day. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has a webpage dedicated to the virus in Alaska that is updated daily.

You know the drill - wash your hands! If you are able, please stay home, especially if you are showing any symptoms. Do not unnecessarily overstock toiletries, and be willing to share or donate if you bought in bulk. Practicing ‘social distancing’ will slow down the spread of the virus, putting less immediate pressures on our health care system.

Our local government officials are doing great things to help contain the virus and protect the people. School Districts across the state have extended spring break an additional week until March 27th. The City and Borough of Wrangell closed the Nolan Center (including the Theater), the Public Library, and the Swimming Pool and Recreation Center for at least two weeks. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 17, 2020

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The Healing Power of Soldier’s Heart By Major Andrew Greenstreet, Alaska State Troopers - When a toddler went missing one evening nearly 30 years ago, the Sitka Police Department was called to canvas the neighborhood with the family and volunteers. On scene, a police officer entered the family’s home to comb every closet, every corner; and, soon he found her. She’d walked across a Jacuzzi soft cover, fallen in, and drowned. 

An ambulance whisked the little girl away; but of course, it was too late. Then, abruptly, everyone left.

The 24-year-old officer found himself in his patrol car, alone with the horror he’d just experienced. He thought about his daughter asleep in her bed at home – she was the same age as the child in the Jacuzzi. Later that night, when his shift was over, he would go home and hug his daughter. Everything would be good then, right? In the meantime, his therapy would be finding a dark, winding road and spending 10 or 15 minutes driving, just driving, until he could put on a good face and go back to work.  - More...
Tuesday AM - March 17, 2020

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Thank You By Michele Zerbetz Scott - On behalf of the Museum Advisory Board and the museum staff, thank you to the community of Ketchikan for your tremendous response to the exhibit, “Into the Wind”, at the opening reception March 6. Your enthusiasm for and recognition of the importance of aviation to our town is greatly appreciated.

Our thanks to the Kayhi Culinary class, led by Cameo McRoberts, who provided the delicious food. Their careful research helped us eat our way through the years of airplane food service. It was a delicious reminder of days gone by of feasting on shrimp salad and filet of beef.

Thank you to the museum staff who brought together this piece of our history and all the volunteers who contributed their expertise and valued historic items. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 17, 2020

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The Hoarding Public By Donald Moskowitz - The coronavirus outbreak has panicked people into hoarding food, paper products and sanitizing compounds. Consumers across the country are conducting binge purchases of these products and most supermarkets are reporting bare shelves and difficulty in restocking these products. The binging activity is very un-American.

There is no need for people to be stocking up on food and other supplies that will last for a year or more. It is reported consumers are purchasing large quantities of toilet paper. Maybe they should be eating less so they can cut back on their defecation and use less toilet paper. 

My wife and I shopped twice last week and we went through the express line of 12 items or less both times, which is typical food shopping for us. - More...
Tuesday AM - March 17, 2020

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Reform? Reshape? Really....? By Percy Frisby - In regard to the recent press conference with Governor Dunleavy and Commissioner of DOT John Mackinnon... - More...
Monday PM - March 09, 2020

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The House Passes a Budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Earlier last week, the Alaska House of Representative passed the operating budget. It took the House 43 days of session to pass the budget, which is the fastest we have passed one since 1993. I am proud with how quickly, efficiently, and cooperatively we worked to get it done. - More...
Monday PM - March 09, 2020

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Seniors Park Your Money Now By David G Hanger - Rick Santelli was his usual obnoxious self when on CNBC he suggested exposing everyone to the coronavirus, so that the effect on the markets and the economy would be short-lived; and he did in hindsight apologize for his bluntness; but the very clear point he has made is that the impact on the markets and on the economy is unpredictable and apparently long-lasting. The trend on the markets is down, and there is no identifiable bottom currently discernible. - More...
Monday PM - March 09, 2020

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House Bill 62 By John Suter - The state should put in HB 62.  HB 62 is the bill that says when a person calls in another person to the authorities and says that person has guns and you think that person could be a danger to society, then the authorities come in and takes those guns away.  - More...
Monday PM - March 09, 2020

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Reject recall, Keep Gov. Dunleavy By Cynthia Henry- We need your help. Alaska is facing an important political issue that could change the course of our great state. I have followed state and local government in Alaska for more than four decades and have never been more dismayed by the actions of some political activists who didn’t get their way. We need the help of good men and women. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 03, 2020

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