SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Potential Impacts of Shutdown of Alaska's Government


June 09, 2017
Friday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - To prepare for the crisis that an unprecedented government shutdown would impose upon Alaska, Governor Bill Walker ordered Thursday that the Walker-Mallott Administration set up an incident command structure to prepare for a potential government shutdown. Given the legislature’s failure to pass a budget, Alaskans are facing a shutdown of government services in 21 days. 

This year’s preparations for a government shutdown are different than in 2015, when the legislature had passed a partially funded budget. This year, money has not been appropriated for any government services. As a government shutdown in Alaska is unprecedented, Department of Law is examining what money could be spent to continue vital state services if the legislature has not fulfilled its constitutional obligation to pass a budget.

“I remain hopeful that both legislative bodies will come to a compromise in the next nine days of this special session,” Governor Walker. “However, my team and I must be prepared for a worst-case scenario. That is why I have ordered that an incident command structure be set up—much like we implemented to address the opioid crisis.”

Governor Walker will hold regular meetings with members of his Cabinet and those who are critical to addressing the potential impacts of the shutdown - many of which are not yet known. The Department of Law and the Office of Management and Budget have already begun analyzing the potential effects, and will continue to have leading roles under this new structure. 

Some of the services provided by the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s staff at risk of being shut down, delayed or interrupted if the legislature fails to pass a budget before July 1:

  • Responses to constituents’ requests for assistance and proclamations
  • Human Rights Commission investigations into human rights complaints
  • Authentication of signatures for Alaska companies doing business in foreign countries
  • Authentication certification of paperwork for Alaskans hoping to adopt children from other countries
  • Authentication paperwork to return the bodies of foreign nationals who die in Alaska

Alaska Department of Law:

Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth sat down Thursday with legislative leadership in both the Alaska House Majority and Senate Majority to brief them on the executive branch’s preparation for a potential shutdown of state government. If the legislature fails to pass a budget by June 30, 2017, the State will be in uncertain and unprecedented territory.

“A shutdown would put the State in a constitutional crisis,” said Attorney General Lindemuth. “Our constitution clearly says the power to determine where and how to spend money lies with the legislature. In the face of the legislature not upholding its constitutional duty, where does that leave state services and programs? That’s the question we are working to answer by evaluating every program or service provided by the State.”

Attorney General Lindemuth still believes the legislature can get the job done, but the executive branch also needs to start planning for the possibility that a compromise will not be reached in time. That was the purpose of her meeting today with legislative leadership. The Attorney General outlined the efforts that have been made so far to establish a tiered system to categorize services that can likely continue at some level during any potential shutdown as well as those that would need to be shutdown completely.

“Make no mistake - many state services will have to fully shutdown in order for us to remain in compliance with the constitution,” said Attorney General Lindemuth.

No matter how long the government is forced to shutdown there will be potential liabilities that accrue. There will be many contracts that are not paid or are otherwise breached, which may result in penalties and interest. There will be statutes that are not being fulfilled that will create additional legal liability.  It will require additional efforts by the Department of Law after a shutdown is over to unwind all of legal matters that had to be halted or delayed while a shutdown was occurring.

Attorney General Lindemuth also briefed legislators on the incident command structure that Governor Walker is implementing.

Alaska Department of Administration (DOA)

In response to the lack of a fully funded budget and the resulting threat of a government shutdown, the Alaska Department of Administration (DOA) sent out layoff notifications to all executive branch employees. DOA is obligated by contracts to provide employees with 30 days’ notice of possible layoffs when possible.

"This is the second time in three years we have had to send notification letters to employees warning of a potential shutdown. The time and energy spent preparing for this situation every year is a waste of resources,” stated DOA Commissioner Sheldon Fisher. “This uncertainty is bad for state employees and the public who depend on state services. I share Governor Walker’s hope that the Legislature will finish their work so we can continue with ours. "

The Alaska Department of Administration has the unique role of providing services to other state agencies and state employees as well as to the public. DOA is working with the Department of Law to analyze the impacts of a shutdown to determine which services we may be allowed to continue without a budget.

The following Alaska Department of Administration services are potentially at risk of being shut down, delayed or interrupted if the legislature fails to pass a fully funded budget before July 1:

  • Services to the Public
    • DMV offices statewide, along with Business Partners and Commission Agents who deliver DMV services such as driver’s licenses, commercial vehicle road tests, and registrations
    • Procurement services such as vendor purchasing directly impact small businesses that rely on an estimated $1.7 million daily in state contracts
    • Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) offices statewide provide oversight on elected officials and lobbyists
    • Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) inspectors, engineers, and other staff support industry work
    • Violent Crimes Compensation Board provides payments to victims of crime for recovery services
    • Alaska Public Broadcasting grant funding supports public radio and television services
    • Lease payments to private businesses for hundreds of state leases
    • Administrative appeals for issues such as child support, Medicaid and public assistance benefits, substantiation of child abuse and neglect, and other cases
    • Processing of retirement applications and delivery of retirement payments
  • Services to Employees and Agencies
    • Bargaining of labor contracts, including marine highway employee contracts currently under negotiation
    • Human resources services including training and recruitment assistance
    • Centralized mail services
    • Maintenance and management of state-owned buildings, parking lots, and other facilities
    • Accounting and other financial services, including required public reporting
    • Enterprise technology services such as IT support and telecommunications

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced they will be working with the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Law to analyze the impacts of a potential shutdown of government services. Individual programs are currently being reviewed, including an assessment of the impact of a shutdown on the commercial, subsistence, personal use fisheries, and sport fisheries; as well as hunting seasons.

Alaska’s multi-billion dollar salmon industry is primarily based on fisheries that occur between the months of June and September. These fisheries provide the sole means of subsistence and livelihood for many Alaskans. A government shutdown would coincide with the peak of the Bristol Bay sockeye season, which regularly occurs around July 4th. Not only would current season fisheries be potentially impacted, the department’s ability to forecast future escapement goal analyses and data collection could also be significantly compromised. Insufficient sampling could hinder assessment of the state’s performance for Pacific Salmon Treaty obligations, the department’s ability to manage allocations set by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, and impact the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s stock assessment program.

The issuance of subsistence and drawing permits could be delayed, interrupted or even not issued, creating food insecurity, cultural and economic impacts, as well as loss of hunting opportunities. Additionally, hunts with in-season management, permitting, or reporting could potentially be delayed or cancelled. This includes hunts managed by quota such as Nelchina caribou, most western Alaska moose hunts, and all goat hunts. Hunts for sheep could also potentially close or be delayed due to sealing requirements.

Alaska’s two state-owned hatcheries annually produce over 4.5 million salmon, rainbow trout, and Arctic Char. Although the department will take all actions within its authority to avoid adverse consequences for the hatcheries, a shutdown could threaten the 2.5 million fish currently housed at the hatchery, and prevent the collection of Chinook and Coho broodstock. These potential losses could be long-term, surpassing the three to four years required to rebuild the basic broodstock. 

Additional Fish and Game services potentially at risk of being shut down, delayed or interrupted if a fully funded budget is not passed before July 1 include:

  • Prevention of, and response to, encounters with wildlife such as moose, bears or musk ox.
  •  Issuing or amending Title 16 permits from the Division of Habitat, which could delay or halt many projects
  • Responding to emergency resource conservation situations
  • Timely release of the 2017-2018 proposal books
  • Timely meetings to inform the public to engage and participate in the regulatory process
  • Operation of state shooting ranges
  • Operation of McNeil River and Round Island wildlife viewing areas

Quoting a Fish & Game news release, the executive-branch still believes that the legislature will pass a budget before July 1, 2017. Therefore, the programs and services at Fish and Game will continue on their normal course through the month of June. Only if a shutdown occurs on July 1 will the Fish & Game department begin to pull their staff back from the field and begin working on any closures that need to occur.

Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Layoff notices were mailed last week to all Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development employees. Layoffs will occur on July 1, 2017 if the Alaska Legislature causes a shutdown of state government by failing to pass a budget. 

“Shutting down the department could limit Alaskans’ access to services that help them find good jobs, protect them from unsafe working conditions, and provide them with economic stability when they are unemployed, injured, or disabled,” said Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas. “The legislature must pass a fully funded budget so we can continue providing these important services Alaskans rely on.”

Quoting a news release, the failure to pass a budget would have significant impacts on the Alakska Department of Labor’s ability to perform important responsibilities, including resolution of labor disputes and elections, workers’ compensation adjudications and appeals, and resolution of wage and hour violations. A closure could also result in a lack of employment and training grants and services that help Alaskans get good jobs, and assist disabled Alaskans in securing employment. It could also require closure of the Alaska Vocational Technical Center (AVTEC) – the state’s post-secondary career and technical education school located in Seward. A shutdown could also impact mechanical inspections that protect public safety and worksite inspections that ensure safe working conditions.

The Labor Department is encouraging State employees facing layoff to engage in the Unemployment Insurance (UI) process early. State employees may apply for UI at The processing and payment of UI claims may be delayed.

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities:

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) Commissioner Marc Luiken announced Thursday that ADOT&PF is working with the Department of Law (DOL) to analyze the potential effects of a government shutdown.

Quoting a news release from ADOT&PF, the following programs and services are potentially at risk of being shut down, delayed or interrupted if the legislature fails to pass a fully funded budget before July 1:

  • Alaska Marine Highway System: There are 10 AMHS vessels that provide passenger service to 35 communities. Residents in these communities may not be able to travel and receive needed groceries and supplies. A variety of industries that rely on AMHS services, such as fishing, could also be impacted.
  • Construction: This year, there are almost $1 billion in construction contracts in 45 communities across the state managed by ADOT&PF staff. Without staff, the state could lose millions in federal funding and construction activities will stop. Any delays could potentially result in damage claims from contractors as state construction companies will cease work, putting thousands of Alaskans out of work.
  • Whittier Tunnel: The longest combined vehicle-railroad tunnel in North America provides access to Whittier, Alaska. In 2015, approximately 240,000 vehicles traveled through the tunnel.
  • Planning and Design: ADOT&PF planning section is responsible for identifying and designing future road, airport and ferry facility projects.  Without continued design work, millions of future federal funding could be at risk.  Approximately 55 percent of planning and design functions are contracted out to private companies across Alaska. Without staff this work could not continue.  
  • Weights and Measures: Responsible for ensuring fairness in the marketplace by certifying the accuracy of weighing and measuring devices used in commerce. An interruption in these services could impact commerce across the state.
  • Road Maintenance and Operations: Crews could potentially not complete bridge maintenance, remove brush, repair potholes and rutting, road striping and crack sealing on over 5,600 miles of state-maintained highway.
  • Aviation Leasing: Responsible for leasing property at rural state-owned airports to private businesses. Leases would not be renewed, potentially causing businesses to close.
  • Public Facilities: Responsible for operating and maintaining 720 public facilities throughout the state. All contracted work could stop and buildings would not receive regular maintenance. This could result in costly repairs that are preventable.

 “I am hopeful that the legislature will pass a fully funded budget before July 1 so that ADOT&PF can continue to support safe transportation and provide important services Alaskans rely on,” said Commissioner Luiken.

Alaska Department of Public Safety:

Commissioner Walt Monegan announced yesterday that the Alaska Department of Public Safety is working with the Alaska Department of Law to analyze the potential effects of a government shutdown on DPS.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety has a responsibility to protect the citizens of Alaska and as such, the Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers would continue to fully enforce Alaska’s laws and respond to emergency calls. However, it is not fully known how a reduction in support services would affect some services provided by DPS.

Below are some of the Alaska Department of Public Safety services "potentially" at risk of being shut down, delayed or interrupted if a budget compromise cannot be reached within the legislature before July 1:

  • Plan Examiners for building and construction, the Office of Rural Fire Protection, and the Training Bureau could potentially be affected.
  • Alaska Fire Standards Council provides fire training and certifications across the state.
  • Alaska Police Standards Council could suffer severe backlog of law enforcement officer approvals that would directly affect upcoming scheduled training academies.
  • Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault could see delays in the ability to complete FY2018 grant award processes to mostly nonprofit organizations, which could potentially hinder victim service program operations.
  • State Crime Detection Laboratory will determine sufficient staff to retain high-profile/high priority analysis. However, the backlog of requests for analysis could potentially grow. Delivery of results could be greatly delayed. This could also significantly affect court cases where analysts are needed for testimony. Furthermore, training provided for breath-alcohol operation and evidence and sexual assault kit collection could potentially be impacted.
  • Statewide Information Technology Services provide critical support programs to all of DPS, including law enforcement. An extended shutdown could prove crippling to the IT support of DPS and cause auditing to fall out of regulatory compliance.
  • Additional items that may be affected within DPS are the Sex Offender Registry, as well as the ability to obtain background checks necessary for employment, concealed handgun permits, and security guard licenses could all be directly affected by even a partial government shutdown.
  • Fiscal instability may also hurt DPS’ ability to attract and retain qualified applicants for troopers and other essential personnel.

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

In anticipation of a potential Alaska government shutdown, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is warning Alaskans of services that might not be available next month. According to the Department of Health & Social Services, because the Legislature has not passed an operating budget for fiscal year 2018, services not directly linked to life, health and safety needs could be delayed, interrupted or shut down beginning July 1, 2017. This includes the issuance of birth and marriage certificates, grant payments to health care providers, and health facility licensing for small businesses.

“While I am hopeful that the legislature will pass a fully-funded budget before July 1, we are working closely with Department of Law and the Office of Management and Budget to determine what a government shutdown would look like for our department,” said DHSS Commissioner Valerie Davidson. “Shutting down the government could mean delayed certificates for Alaskans who are getting married this summer. We could also see delayed processing of birth certificates, which is often a minimum requirement for applying for other state and federal services. DHSS touches the lives of so many Alaskans. A shutdown would cause unnecessary burden to individuals and private businesses alike.”

Services that could be shut down, delayed or interrupted if the legislature fails to pass a fully funded budget before July 1 include, but are not limited to:

  •  marriage and birth certificates issued by the Bureau of Vital Statistics;
  •  investigation of all but the most serious reports of abuse in state licensed residential and healthcare facilities;
  • assuring follow-up of abnormal newborn health screenings;
  • support for the state’s opioid crisis response;
  • services provided through private organizations and businesses that receive DHSS grant funding;
  •  residential and health facility licensing; and
  • analyses of federal healthcare legislation and federal budget proposal impacts in Alaska

Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)

Education Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson announced Thursday that the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) is also working with the Department of Law to analyze the potential effects of a government shutdown, and is developing a contingency plan for a shutdown of its services if a fully funded state budget is not passed before July 1.

“I am hopeful that the legislature will pass a fully funded budget before July 1 so that DEED can continue to provide valuable and important services to support our state’s students and their families,” said Commissioner Johnson.

Quoting a news release from the Education Department, Governor Walker is hopeful the legislature will reach a compromise so this shutdown does not occur. But out of an abundance of caution, he wants Alaskans to understand how services provided by DEED would be potentially at risk.

The following services are potentially at risk of being shut down, delayed, or interrupted if the legislature fails to pass a fully funded budget before July 1:

  • Early learning and Head Start programs, and federal Title programs and grants that support the state’s most vulnerable students;
  •  Processing of teacher certifications;
  • The operation of Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Professional Teaching Practices Commission, the Alaska State Library, the Alaska State Archives, the Alaska State Museum, and the Sheldon Jackson Museum;
  • Operation of the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff Building in Juneau, which includes the Alaska State Museum. The summer season is the busiest time for visitors, and closure of the facility would result in a reduction of fees collected as well as affect scheduled events and standing agreements with tourism companies;
  • State and federal data reporting, including statewide assessment results; implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); and Alaska’s Education Challenge timelines would be negatively affected.

According to the Alaska Department of Education, minimal staff would likely continue to work to meet constitutionally and federally mandated requirements, such as payments to formula funding and summer food programs for children, and administrative and fiscal support to ensure essential services of DEED and the State Board of Education continue, such as closing out fiscal year 2017 obligations and state facilities maintenance. The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and the Alaska Student Loan Corporation would also likely maintain minimal staffing to meet federal and bond trust loan requirements.

Alaska Department of Revenue:

Commissioner Randall Hoffbeck also announced Thursday that the Alaska Department of Revenue (DOR) is working with the Department of Law to analyze the potential impacts of a government shutdown on Department of Revenue services. Quoting a news release, the Alaska Department of Revenue will continue limited functions that ensure the life, health, and safety of Alaskans. These functions include certain services by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to oversee public housing units, processing of child support payments to custodial parents, and the work of the Long Term Care Ombudsman’s Office on emergent medical and care issues. Although likely operational, these services could be delayed based on reduced staffing.

With reduced staffing, the Alaska Department of Revenue will also continue minimal functions to preserve the state’s financial assets such as those managed by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation and the Alaska Retirement Management Board.  The State will miss out on investment opportunities and growing these funds if a shutdown occurs. All other services provided by DOR will be reduced or cease entirely pending passage of a budget.

The following Alaska Department of Revenue services will likely not be available for the duration of a shutdown:

  • The Permanent Fund Dividend Division – Dividend application processing and review will cease, as eligibility technicians will not be available to work with applicants.  Depending on the length of a shutdown, the dividend payment timeline may be delayed for 2017.
  • The Child Support Services Division - All new and active child support casework will likely cease.  Customer service centers will likely be closed and unable to address phone questions or respond to written correspondence.  While limited services will be maintained to collect and process payments for custodial parents, the division will be unable to accept in-person cash payments.
  • The Tax Division – Pending system availability electronic tax payments will be accepted into state accounts, however there may be no staff available for processing those electronic deposits or handling of cash deposits.  Auditing of taxes related to Oil & Gas, Corporate Income, Alcohol, Fisheries, Charitable Gaming, Tobacco, and others will likely cease.  New tax licensing and processing for mining, alcohol, tobacco, fisheries, and charitable gaming would not be available.  In the event of a prolonged shutdown, the division will be unable to issue cigarette tax stamps or pull tabs and those items could not legally be sold.
  • Criminal Investigations Unit – Current investigations into suspected PFD and Tax fraud would be suspended. 
  • Unclaimed Property - All services will cease. The public will be unable to access information regarding suspected missing money or property that they may be entitled to.

Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation:

Chief Executive Officer Angela Rodell announced Thursday that the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC) is taking steps to ensure that the Alaska Permanent Fund and money managed on behalf of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority are prudently managed in the event of a government shutdown.  

The Chief Executive Officer and her staff have been diligently working to ensure that a business continuity plan is in place to protect the assets, should there be a government shutdown. This includes, ensuring that protocols with the Fund’s custodial bank are in place and that the ability to transfer money and make payments under existing agreements are secured.

It is important to note that this plan does not provide for the active forward looking investment of the Fund that the Corporation engages in on a day to day basis. Based on the advice received from the Department of Law, it is anticipated that during a shut-down no new investments will be pursued. There can be no assurance that a government shutdown will not have a material impact on the earnings and performance of the Fund for Fiscal Year 2018.

The APFC staff manages and invests the assets of the Alaska Permanent Fund and assets on behalf of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority; they are among the many state employees who got lay-off notices. Ms. Rodell is hopeful that the legislature will reach an agreement and fully fund a budget prior to July 1, so that the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation can continue to strive for excellence in the management and investment performance of the Fund. 

According to a news release from the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, the unaudited market value of the Fund is currently $59.8 billion, an all-time high. In the past five years, active management of the Fund’s assets by APFC staff has generated an additional $4.1 billion in value for Alaska’s Future.

Alaska Natural Resources Department

Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack announced Thursday that the Alaska Department of Natural Resources is working with the Alaska Department of Law to prepare for a potential government shutdown, which would likely require the suspension of all agency functions and services not essential to the life, health and safety of Alaskans according to Commissioner Mack.

“I am very hopeful that the Legislature will pass a fully funded budget before July 1 so the Department of Natural Resources can continue to generate revenue for the State of Alaska, support Alaska’s resource-based economy, and facilitate public enjoyment of our state lands,” Commissioner Mack said.

Alaska Natural Resources manages the State of Alaska’s land, water and mineral resources. These resources supply most of the revenue for the state's General Fund, endows the Permanent Fund, and supports thousands of private sector jobs. Even a temporary shutdown could disrupt routine activities on state lands and collection of fees and royalties according to the department.

Quoting a news release, iIn the event of a government shutdown, Alaska Natural Resources would likely continue wildland firefighting operations and operation of the Alaska Volcano Observatory. Alaska Natural Resources is looking at the possibility that virtually all other DNR programs and activities involving state land, water, forestry, agriculture, geological and natural hazard research, oil and gas leases, pipeline right-of-way oversight, and state parks, could be suspended or experience significant interruptions.

The following list describes potential impacts to Alaska Natural Resources’ functions, which could be shut down, delayed or interrupted if a fully funded budget is not passed before July 1:

  • Issuance of DNR permits and authorizations 
  • Field inspections, timber and land sales, agricultural certifications, and DNR participation in planned research activities
  • Operation of all Recorder’s Office locations, which record documents necessary to complete real property sales and other commercial transactions
  • Operation of public restrooms and state park visitor centers
  • Park rangers, campground hosts or other personnel to assist visitors
  • Operation of state park fee stations, water pumps and other systems that require routine maintenance
  • State park lands and campgrounds could remain open for public use but without services
  • Reservations for state park cabins via the Reserve America website
  • Operation of public information center locations in Anchorage and Fairbanks, which handle customer service calls, visits, and payments

Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA):

The Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA) has identified the following potential risks to services provided to the public if an Alaska government shutdown occurs.

  • Alaska National Guard - Uniformed Guard members will continue their duties as normal. Some state personnel may remain on duty to provide required services and repairs for National Guard facilities, but most will likely be laid off.
  • Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHS&EM) - During duty hours, phones for the State Emergency Operations Center will be forwarded to the Joint Operations Center.  After duty hours, calls will be forwarded to a contractor answering service. If a disaster event necessitates response activities, essential DHS&EM and other state government emergency response personnel will be recalled to address the immediate life, health, and safety needs of affected Alaskans. The recalled staff will be funded through the Alaska Disaster Relief Fund. During the course of a shutdown, DHS&EM will likely have to cease disaster mitigation and preparation activities and would no longer process recovery grants for individuals and communities.
  • Office of Veterans Affairs - All Office of Veterans Affairs staff will likely be laid off. Additionally, grants to veteran organizations for 17 Veterans Service Officers could be impacted. If that happens, Alaska’s approximately 75,000 veterans and their 120,000 family members will have no professional assistance in negotiating the complex processes to claim the benefits they have earned.
  • Division of Administrative Services - The Division of Administrative Services will likely retain staff sufficient to support ongoing operations by the Alaska Military Youth Academy while it has a class in progress and likely recall necessary staff for federal reimbursement processing and emergency procurements for facility repairs.  

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is also working with the Alaska Attorney General’s office to identify those services being provided by DEC that may continue even if the legislature does not pass a fully funded budget before July 1, 2017. 

Based on analyses to date, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation anticipates a limited number of services would continue at some level during a shutdown to meet constitutional obligations to protect life, health, and safety. The Division of Spill Prevention and Response would maintain a level of preparedness to respond in the case of an oil or hazardous substance release in Alaska. There are, on average, about 2,000 reported spills each year, and the majority of spills are to land, surface water, and groundwater where the State is the lead responder.

Other programs impacting public life, health, and safety that will likely continue at a reduced level are certain air quality advisories, disease prevention duties, and ensuring clean drinking water. 

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has additionally identified a number of services potentially at risk if there is a government shutdown:

  • Issuance of permits, including air, wastewater, and retail food programs. This could potentially impact new resource development projects as well as small food service businesses looking to get up and running for the summer visitor season.
  • Loans and grants to municipalities for water and sewer infrastructure projects during construction season.
  • Oversight of cruise ships in Alaska waters.
  • Retail food inspections and complaint response.

Quoting a news release, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's management remains optimistic the department will have a budget approved by the legislature by July 1, but believes it is prudent to start making contingency plans for a shutdown.

Alaska Department of Corrections

Corrections Commissioner Dean Williams said yesterday that the Department of Corrections is working with the Department of Law to analyze the potential effects of a government shutdown, which would occur if the legislature fails to pass a budget by July 1.

"Any interruption in routine operations of the Department will add risk and uncertainty.  While high security functions remain intact, ancillary operations of a correctional system are still important to safety and security," Commissioner Williams said.  

Although it is uncertain exactly which programs, services, and jobs would be affected during a full government shutdown, Commissioner Williams says any interruption in services could be detrimental to DOC institutions, rehabilitation programs, inmates, staff and communities across the state.

Shutting down offender programs or re-entry programs could lead to increased offender recidivism, an issue DOC has been working to combat. Any interruptions, delays or shutdown of inmate programming or community re-entry coalition work could create significant difficulties for re-entrants upon release. Many rely on these services to successfully transition back into Alaska communities.  These programs reduce the likelihood of offender’s recidivating (inside and outside the prisons), as treatment in prison enhances success upon release.

Below is a list of some programs and services potentially at risk of being shut down, delayed or interrupted if a fully funded budget is not passed before July 1:

  • Victim services, which provide information and support
  • Centralized electronic monitoring program oversight
  • Institutional domestic violence programming
  • Institutional education and vocational programming
  • Institutional and community substance abuse treatment programming
  • Institutional and community recidivism reduction programming
  • Institutional and community re-entry services and support
  • Institutional chaplaincy programming
  • Inmate population research projects, which provides updated information
  • Security and maintenance of Palmer Correctional Center property
  • Transitional housing efforts
  • System development (Pretrial, EHR, ACOMS) and automated systems development     necessary for successful program implementation or continuation
  • Timely responses to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaints and grievances
  • Timely responses to entities such as the Alaska State Human Rights Commission, Ombudsman, American Civil Liberties Union, legislature, public complaints and the media

Alaska Department of Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development

Due to the ongoing state budget impasse, Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development Commissioner Chris Hladick is also working with the Department of Law to evaluate the potential effects on business and community services during a government shutdown. 

“While I am hopeful the legislature will reach a compromise, I feel obligated to provide Alaskans with as much advance notice as possible about potential disruptions in services that they rely upon,” said Commissioner Hladick. “We encourage Alaskans, if you depend on one of these services—if your professional license is going to lapse soon, if you are seeking a commercial fishing loan, if you need technical assistance regarding a local boundary issue—consider whether it is something we can help you with before the potential shutdown occurs.”

Should a government shutdown occur, Alaskans would likely experience significant disruption in services provided by the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, which would impact local governments and the private sector. The following services are potentially at risk of being shut down, delayed, or interrupted if the legislature fails to pass a budget before July 1:

  • Licensing of businesses and professionals that allows them to work in Alaska
  • Licensing and regulation of the insurance, banking, and securities industries
  • Licensing and inspection of commercial marijuana cultivation, testing, retail and alcoholic beverage sales
  • Seafood marketing
  • Issuance of commercial fishing loans 
  • Distribution of revenue sharing and community assistance funding to local governments
  • Administration of the loan program that assists communities with the purchase bulk fuel to generate power or supply rural communities with fuel
  • Processing of applications and notices of utility rate changes
  • Onsite technical assistance of rural water and wastewater utilities
  • Technical assistance regarding local government or boundary issues
  • Action on ANCSA shareholder complaints about false and misleading proxy statements in pending ANCSA corporate board elections 


On the Web:

Alaska Department of Law Fact Shutdown Sheet


Reporting & Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Office of Governor Bill Walker

Alaska Department of Law

Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation

Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities

Alaska Department of Revenue

Alaska Department of Public Safety

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

Alaska Natural Resources Department

Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA)

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)

Alaska Department of Corrections

Alaska Department of Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development

Alaska Department of Administration (DOA)




Representations of fact and opinions in comments posted are solely those of the individual posters and do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.


Submit A Letter to SitNews

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2017
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

 Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews may be protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper sources.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.