Alaska Legislature

Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold sits in a Senate gallery on Friday, March 12, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The Alaska Senate voted Wednesday to allow leadership to restrict access to the Capitol by Reinbold, an Eagle River Republican, over violations of protocols meant to guard against COVID-19. (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer, Pool)

State Senate leaders accommodate member over virus rules

The senate president on Friday called the standoff a distraction.

Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold sits in a Senate gallery on Friday, March 12, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The Alaska Senate voted Wednesday to allow leadership to restrict access to the Capitol by Reinbold, an Eagle River Republican, over violations of protocols meant to guard against COVID-19. (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer, Pool)
Alaska Senate Secretary Liz Clark, right, holds a copy of the Alaska Legislature's uniform rules as she talks to Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, center, while Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna and Senate Majority Leader Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, in the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau, Alaska, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Reinbold was excluded from most spaces in the Alaska State Capitol until she follows the Legislature's anti-COVID policies. (James Brooks / Anchorage Daily News via AP, Pool)

State Senate takes action against member over virus rules

An 18-1 vote allows leadership to enforce COVID-19 mitigation policies.

Alaska Senate Secretary Liz Clark, right, holds a copy of the Alaska Legislature's uniform rules as she talks to Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, center, while Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna and Senate Majority Leader Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, in the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau, Alaska, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Reinbold was excluded from most spaces in the Alaska State Capitol until she follows the Legislature's anti-COVID policies. (James Brooks / Anchorage Daily News via AP, Pool)
A bill from Gov. Mike Dunleavy would rework the Marine Transportation Advisory Board to help the Alaska Marine Highway System with long-term planning to provide better service for passengers like the ones seen here at the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal on May 16, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
A bill from Gov. Mike Dunleavy would rework the Marine Transportation Advisory Board to help the Alaska Marine Highway System with long-term planning to provide better service for passengers like the ones seen here at the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal on May 16, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
The Department of Health and Social Services, its headquarters seen here in Juneau on Monday, March 8, 2021, could be split into two departments by an executive order from the governor. However, some lawmakers have raised concern about the legality of the order, saying it could lead to costly litigation. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Lawmakers question whether proposed department split is legal

Governor maintains executive order is within his powers, others are less sure.

The Department of Health and Social Services, its headquarters seen here in Juneau on Monday, March 8, 2021, could be split into two departments by an executive order from the governor. However, some lawmakers have raised concern about the legality of the order, saying it could lead to costly litigation. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
From left to right: Alaska state Reps. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, Zack Fields, D-Anchorage, and Sara Rasmussen, R-Anchorage, speak on the Alaska House floor on Friday, March 5, 2021. The House passed a Sense of the House on Friday, condemning as inappropriate and objectifying comments Fields had made toward Rasmussen last month. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
From left to right: Alaska state Reps. Chris Tuck, D-Anchorage, Zack Fields, D-Anchorage, and Sara Rasmussen, R-Anchorage, speak on the Alaska House floor on Friday, March 5, 2021. The House passed a Sense of the House on Friday, condemning as inappropriate and objectifying comments Fields had made toward Rasmussen last month. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, chairs a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Stedman, who’s chaired the finance committee through multiple legislatures, said time is running out to fix the state’s finances. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

‘Time is running out’ lawmaker warns of state finances

The longer it takes to fix this, my concern is the smaller the dividend will be for the people.”

Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, chairs a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Stedman, who’s chaired the finance committee through multiple legislatures, said time is running out to fix the state’s finances. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, holds a press in front of the doors to the Senate chambers on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Reinbold called the conference to respond to a letter from Gov. Mike Dunleavy saying he would no longer participate with her as chair of the Senate Judicairy Committee. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, holds a press in front of the doors to the Senate chambers on Thursday, March 4, 2021. Reinbold called the conference to respond to a letter from Gov. Mike Dunleavy saying he would no longer participate with her as chair of the Senate Judicairy Committee. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Members of the Alaska House of Representatives gather for a Finance Committee meeting on Monday, March 1, 2021 even after a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. Meetings were canceled last week after Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok, tested positive. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Members of the Alaska House of Representatives gather for a Finance Committee meeting on Monday, March 1, 2021 even after a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. Meetings were canceled last week after Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok, tested positive. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold, an Eagle River Republican, holds a copy of the Alaska Constitution during a committee hearing in Juneau, Alaska. Reinbold has been a vocal critic, along with other lawmakers, of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s disaster declarations while the Legislature was not in session. She has used her committee to amplify voices of those who question the effectiveness of masks and the usefulness of the government’s emergency response. In a scathing letter that included references to her Facebook posts, Dunleavy accused Reinbold of misrepresenting the state’s COVID-19 response and deceiving the public. “The misinformation must end,” the governor wrote. (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer)

Some GOP state lawmakers help spread COVID-19 misinformation

Republican state lawmakers are using their platform to promote false information about the virus.

Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold, an Eagle River Republican, holds a copy of the Alaska Constitution during a committee hearing in Juneau, Alaska. Reinbold has been a vocal critic, along with other lawmakers, of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s disaster declarations while the Legislature was not in session. She has used her committee to amplify voices of those who question the effectiveness of masks and the usefulness of the government’s emergency response. In a scathing letter that included references to her Facebook posts, Dunleavy accused Reinbold of misrepresenting the state’s COVID-19 response and deceiving the public. “The misinformation must end,” the governor wrote. (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer)
A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released by the state last year sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. A shortened session last year meant the bill, announced by Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy, didn't make it through the last Legislature. But there's a new bill, nearly the same as the old bill, working its way through the Senate. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire file)
A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released by the state last year sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. A shortened session last year meant the bill, announced by Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, D-Anchorage, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy, didn't make it through the last Legislature. But there's a new bill, nearly the same as the old bill, working its way through the Senate. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire file)
Meetings at the Alaska State Capitol, seen here in this December 19, 2020 file photo, were canceled Thursday after a member of the House of Representatives tested positive for COVID-19. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Meetings at the Alaska State Capitol, seen here in this December 19, 2020 file photo, were canceled Thursday after a member of the House of Representatives tested positive for COVID-19. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold, an Eagle River Republican, holds a copy of the Alaska Constitution during a committee hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, sent Reinbold a letter on Feb. 18, 2021, saying she has used her position to “misrepresent” the state’s COVID-19 response. Reinbold said the letter was “full of baseless accusations and complaints.” (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer)

Dunleavy says Reinbold misrepresents virus response

Dunleavy said his administration will no longer participate in hearings led by Sen. Lora Reinbold

Alaska state Sen. Lora Reinbold, an Eagle River Republican, holds a copy of the Alaska Constitution during a committee hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, sent Reinbold a letter on Feb. 18, 2021, saying she has used her position to “misrepresent” the state’s COVID-19 response. Reinbold said the letter was “full of baseless accusations and complaints.” (AP Photo / Becky Bohrer)
Speaker of the House Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, speaks with reporters on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021 after lawmakers were able put together enough of a coalition to organize itself and begin legislative work. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

House organizes, speaker promises to make up for lost time

Both Juneau’s representatives will chair committees for the first time.

Speaker of the House Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, speaks with reporters on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021 after lawmakers were able put together enough of a coalition to organize itself and begin legislative work. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Some buildings, like Centennial Hall, seen here on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, have been converted into facilities to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. If the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration lapses on Feb. 15, health officials are saying it could make combating the pandemic more difficult. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

With deadline looming, some say disaster order no longer needed

Health officials say extension would help effort against ongoing pandemic.

Some buildings, like Centennial Hall, seen here on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, have been converted into facilities to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. If the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration lapses on Feb. 15, health officials are saying it could make combating the pandemic more difficult. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
This Jan. 8, 2021, photo shows the Alaska State Capitol. The Alaska Senate on Wednesday OK’d a resolution that would allow remote voting, if necessary, during the pandemic. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

State senate approves remote voting resolution

Presiding officers could OK attending session via videoconference.

This Jan. 8, 2021, photo shows the Alaska State Capitol. The Alaska Senate on Wednesday OK’d a resolution that would allow remote voting, if necessary, during the pandemic. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
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This still image from a Gavel Alaska livestream shows Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum as he speaks to a Senate committee on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. Lawmakers questioned Crum on the legality of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s emergency disaster declarations and extensions.
Screenshot 
This still image from a Gavel Alaska livestream shows Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum as he speaks to a Senate committee on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. Lawmakers questioned Crum on the legality of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s emergency disaster declarations and extensions.
Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, chairs the Senate State Affairs Committee on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, during a review of a bill he submitted. Shower says the bill would strengthen Alaska’s election security while critics say it will make it harder for Alaskans to vote. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, chairs the Senate State Affairs Committee on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, during a review of a bill he submitted. Shower says the bill would strengthen Alaska’s election security while critics say it will make it harder for Alaskans to vote. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)