Gov. Mike Dunleavy at a press conference in Anchorage on Monday, March 30, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy at a press conference in Anchorage on Monday, March 30, 2020. (Courtesy photo | Office of Gov. Mike Dunleavy)

State suspends fees, regulations in effort to stabilize economy

Gov says measures meant to ‘freeze’ economy in place

The state is suspending a many regulations and requirements in an effort to stabilize Alaska’s economy during a time of mandated business closures and reduced economic activity, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said at a press conference in Anchorage Tuesday.

“We’re going to do everything we can to stabilize this economy,” Dunleavy said.

Dunleavy was joined by state department commissioners as well as Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink.

“State and federal legislation has given us the tools” to tackle unemployment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Tamika Ledbetter said.

The state received money from the federal government to help pay unemployment claims and some requirement provisions have been waived. Specifically, requirements a person must be actively looking for work and have been out of work for at least a week have been suspended, Ledbetter said.

Department of Labor was receiving an unprecedented number of unemployment claims, Ledbetter said, and its phone systems were currently overwhelmed. Department employees would contact individuals personally once they’ve filed claims online, she said.

[Juneau reports 4 new COVID-19 cases]

Certain business license renewals and fees for businesses were also being suspended, according to Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Commissioner Julie Anderson and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corrie Feige.

This was meant to help businesses struggling during a time of reduced economic activity, they said. Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Jason Brune said some fees were going to be waived so that businesses wouldn’t have to worry about making those payments.

“We are not lessening any requirements on environmental protection,” Brune said, but DEC will be exercising enforcement discretion, he said. Travel restrictions prohibited officials from traveling to certain areas but the department was still in communication with the regulated community, he said.

Dunleavy has suspended requirements for driver’s license and car and boat registration renewal requirements for the time being, said Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka. Additionally, the federal government has extended the implementation of REAL I.D. requirements.

“The reason we’re doing this is not as a ‘bailout’ as some would say, but as a stabilization,” Dunleavy said.

Federal money would come to the administration, Dunleavy said, and the governor’s office would be responsible for allocating those funds. Funds would be available broadly to areas affected by the coronavirus, the governor said.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnoEmpire.

Information on the coronavirus is available from websites for the City and Borough of Juneau, the State of Alaska at coronavirus.alaska.gov and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with flu-like symptoms are encouraged to contact their health care provider.

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