Mark Sabbatini

Folks at the Alaska State Capitol openly admit to plenty of fish tales, but to a large degree in ways intended to benefit residents and sometimes even the fish. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The bizarre bills other state legislatures are considering

Alaska’s Legislature isn’t mulling the headline-grabbers some statehouses have in the works.

 

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, stands in the well of the House Chambers with other Democrats, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to hear Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., deliver remarks shortly after becoming the new minority leader on Jan. 6. The speech came after a nearly weeklong stalemate by Republicans in electing a speaker after they won a narrow majority in November’s election. (Screenshot from C-SPAN video feed)

Peltola learning the House party is over

Distractions and inaction replace honeymoon headlines as Alaska’s new rep joins minority.

 

Alaska Supreme Court Chief Justice Daniel Winfree gets a standing ovation from the Alaska State Legislature as he enters the House chamber Wednesday to deliver his final State of the Judiciary speech. Winfree is stepping down next Monday when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Chief justice bids lawmakers a fervent farewell

Daniel Winfree, in State of Judiciary days before retirement, warns about mixing politics and courts

 

State Senators Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, right, who chairs the Senate Education Committee and Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, discuss a bill proposing a nearly 17% increase in per-student education funding Wednesday at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

17% boost in school funding sought by state Senate

Proposal would increase $5,960 per-student allocation by $1,000; first major change since 2017

State Senators Löki Tobin, D-Anchorage, right, who chairs the Senate Education Committee and Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, discuss a bill proposing a nearly 17% increase in per-student education funding Wednesday at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
This combination image shows former Alaska Office of Management and Budget Director Donna Arduin, left, and current director Neil Steininger presents portions of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budgets at the start of his first and second terms in 2019 and 2023, respectively. The two represent vastly different approaches the governor has taken in interacting with legislators at the start of those two terms. 
Michael Penn and Mark 
Sabbatini / Juneau Empire

A tale of two terms

Lawmakers say governor’s appointments, agenda vastly less confrontational this time.

This combination image shows former Alaska Office of Management and Budget Director Donna Arduin, left, and current director Neil Steininger presents portions of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed budgets at the start of his first and second terms in 2019 and 2023, respectively. The two represent vastly different approaches the governor has taken in interacting with legislators at the start of those two terms. 
Michael Penn and Mark 
Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Mitchell Haldane, Sealaska’s carbon offset administrator, surveys forest land owned by the Juneau-based Alaska Native corporation that has earned more than $100 million since 2016 by putting the property into California’s carbon credits markets, which is paying to keep the land unharvested for 100 years. (Screenshot from YouTube video by Sealaska Corp.)

Could it be easy being — and making — green?

State, Alaska Native corporations among those who see carbon market potential, but questions remain.

Mitchell Haldane, Sealaska’s carbon offset administrator, surveys forest land owned by the Juneau-based Alaska Native corporation that has earned more than $100 million since 2016 by putting the property into California’s carbon credits markets, which is paying to keep the land unharvested for 100 years. (Screenshot from YouTube video by Sealaska Corp.)
Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Juneau’s municipal and state legislative members, their staff, and city lobbyists gather in the Assembly chambers Thursday meeting for an overview of how the Alaska State Legislature and politicians in Washington, D.C., are affecting local issues.

Local leaders, lawmakers and lobbyists discuss political plans for coming year

Morning meeting looks at local impact of state, national political climates.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Juneau’s municipal and state legislative members, their staff, and city lobbyists gather in the Assembly chambers Thursday meeting for an overview of how the Alaska State Legislature and politicians in Washington, D.C., are affecting local issues.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy talks about his second-term agenda with members of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, which is doing a two-day legislative fly-in this week, before his speech during the Juneau Chamber’s weekly luncheon Thursday. The speech and subsequent question period was at the Baranof Hotel to accommodate the extra out-of-town guests spending much of their time at the Alaska State Capitol, rather than the usual location at the Juneau Moose Lodge Family Center. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Big carbon and ‘small nukes’ are state’s future, governor says

Dunleavy sells business leaders on greenhouse gas cash, greenhouses with mini nuclear power plants

Gov. Mike Dunleavy talks about his second-term agenda with members of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, which is doing a two-day legislative fly-in this week, before his speech during the Juneau Chamber’s weekly luncheon Thursday. The speech and subsequent question period was at the Baranof Hotel to accommodate the extra out-of-town guests spending much of their time at the Alaska State Capitol, rather than the usual location at the Juneau Moose Lodge Family Center. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Alaska Department of Health Commissioner Heidi Hedberg explains why there is a major backlog of food stamp and Medicaid applications to the Senate Health And Resources Committee on Tuesday at the Alaska State Capitol. Part of the reason, shown on the slide during her presentation, is a computer system that uses 1959 technology and only one employee is currently qualified to program. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Food stamp, Medicaid backlogs still loom large

State lawmakers conduct first hearing into state’s struggles processing public assistance applicants.

Alaska Department of Health Commissioner Heidi Hedberg explains why there is a major backlog of food stamp and Medicaid applications to the Senate Health And Resources Committee on Tuesday at the Alaska State Capitol. Part of the reason, shown on the slide during her presentation, is a computer system that uses 1959 technology and only one employee is currently qualified to program. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire file 
A sign marks the road entrance to the Mendenhall Glacier area of the Tongass National Forest. The Biden administration on Wednesday announced the Roadless Rule preventing logging and roads in about nine million acres of the 16.7-million-acre forest has been reinstated after former President Donald Trump repealed it in 2020.

Biden administration reinstates Tongass Roadless Rule

Miners and timber interests upset, environmentalists thrilled, Sen. Sullivan vows retaliation

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire file 
A sign marks the road entrance to the Mendenhall Glacier area of the Tongass National Forest. The Biden administration on Wednesday announced the Roadless Rule preventing logging and roads in about nine million acres of the 16.7-million-acre forest has been reinstated after former President Donald Trump repealed it in 2020.
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Katie Botz, a Juneau school bus driver honored by Gov. Mike Dunelavy for her advocacy on behalf of abuse victims, stands to applause during his recognition of her during the State of the State speech Monday night at the Alaska State Capitol.

‘A victory for all of us’: Juneau woman recognized among Resilient Alaskans for her advocacy

Katie Botz’s presence — and brief absence — as a victims advocate led to a big win and governor’s honor.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Katie Botz, a Juneau school bus driver honored by Gov. Mike Dunelavy for her advocacy on behalf of abuse victims, stands to applause during his recognition of her during the State of the State speech Monday night at the Alaska State Capitol.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy addresses state lawmakers and guests attending his State of the State speech Monday night before a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature at the Alaska State Capitol. The 50-minute speech was praised by many legislators are more positive and less confrontational than his first address four years ago. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Dunleavy urges cooperation to change course of state’s history

War on fentanyl, resilient Alaskans and “most pro-life-state” vow among State of the State highlights.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy addresses state lawmakers and guests attending his State of the State speech Monday night before a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature at the Alaska State Capitol. The 50-minute speech was praised by many legislators are more positive and less confrontational than his first address four years ago. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
A by-mail ballot asks voters in 2020 to approve a measure calling for rank choice voting, which was approved. A petition is now circulating calling for another ballot measure to repeal rank choice, with the second-place candidates in both of Alaska’s most recent Congressional races among the most prominent supporters of the repeal. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Ranked choice repeal petition begins circulating

Kelly Tshibaka joins Sarah Palin as election losers leading effort to return to traditional voting

A by-mail ballot asks voters in 2020 to approve a measure calling for rank choice voting, which was approved. A petition is now circulating calling for another ballot measure to repeal rank choice, with the second-place candidates in both of Alaska’s most recent Congressional races among the most prominent supporters of the repeal. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Gov. Mike Dunleavy poses for a photo with Gladys Castaños during an inaugural celebration for the governor and Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom on Friday night at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

All’s a ball for reelected governor

Dunleavy celebrates “peaceful transfer of power…to myself” at inaugural party Friday

Gov. Mike Dunleavy poses for a photo with Gladys Castaños during an inaugural celebration for the governor and Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom on Friday night at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
State Senate Finance Committee Chair Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, left, discusses the state’s revenue forecast following a presentation of the report Friday at the Alaska State Capitol.

Fiscal forecast both calm and stormy

Lawmakers told mid-case scenario for state is smooth, but global events may again shake things up.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
State Senate Finance Committee Chair Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, left, discusses the state’s revenue forecast following a presentation of the report Friday at the Alaska State Capitol.
Moving boxes are stacked outside the offices of state Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, and former House Speaker Louise Stutes, a Kodiak Republican, on the second floor of the Alaska State Capitol on Wednesday morning following their demotion to minority status after a Republican-led majority excluding Stutes was named Tuesday. As minority members, they will have no official say on the location of their new offices. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Moving day for House as committees set

Hannan, Bush Caucus get prized finance seats as Republican-led majority shakes up status quo.

Moving boxes are stacked outside the offices of state Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, and former House Speaker Louise Stutes, a Kodiak Republican, on the second floor of the Alaska State Capitol on Wednesday morning following their demotion to minority status after a Republican-led majority excluding Stutes was named Tuesday. As minority members, they will have no official say on the location of their new offices. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Gov. Mike Dunleavy talks with local residents and people involved with this year’s legislative session during an annual welcoming reception hosted by city government and business leaders Tuesday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. Dunleavy is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the State address, the first of his second term, to a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature at 7 p.m. Monday.

Rallies and State of the State set for Monday at the Capitol

Dunleavy to deliver annual address following two big-issue demonstrations.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Gov. Mike Dunleavy talks with local residents and people involved with this year’s legislative session during an annual welcoming reception hosted by city government and business leaders Tuesday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. Dunleavy is scheduled to deliver his annual State of the State address, the first of his second term, to a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature at 7 p.m. Monday.
State Rep. Cathy TIlton, R-Wasilla, takes to gavel from State Rep. Josiah Patkotak, I-Utqiaġvik, after she is elected speaker of the Alaska State House on Wednesday. She was elected by a 26-14 bipartisan vote, but the initial majority consists of 19 Republicans and four members of the Bush Caucus. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Tilton elected House speaker in unusual vote

Wasilla Republican elected by 26-14 bipartisan vote, but initial majority has 23 members

State Rep. Cathy TIlton, R-Wasilla, takes to gavel from State Rep. Josiah Patkotak, I-Utqiaġvik, after she is elected speaker of the Alaska State House on Wednesday. She was elected by a 26-14 bipartisan vote, but the initial majority consists of 19 Republicans and four members of the Bush Caucus. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, right, listens to an overview of Alaska’s past and projected oil production by Department of Natural Resources Commissioner John Boyle during Kiehl’s first meeting as a member of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Business as usual underway in the Senate

Key committees meetings start with optimistic tone about working with House, governor

State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, right, listens to an overview of Alaska’s past and projected oil production by Department of Natural Resources Commissioner John Boyle during Kiehl’s first meeting as a member of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
State Rep. Josiah Patkotak, left, an Utqiagvik independent, accepts the gavel from Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom after he’s elected speaker pro tem of the House during the opening day of the 33rd Alaska State Legislature on Tuesday. Patkotak, who has served as president pro tem during a previous stalemate in determining a House majority, is among the members Republicans are trying to lure to join a coalition controlled by their party. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Session starts sans House speaker, smooth in Senate

Temporary House leader elected as another majority stalemate looms; Senate slights its minority.

State Rep. Josiah Patkotak, left, an Utqiagvik independent, accepts the gavel from Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom after he’s elected speaker pro tem of the House during the opening day of the 33rd Alaska State Legislature on Tuesday. Patkotak, who has served as president pro tem during a previous stalemate in determining a House majority, is among the members Republicans are trying to lure to join a coalition controlled by their party. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)