Alaska Legislature

Reps. Jesse Sumner, R-Wasilla, and Jamie Allard, R-Eagle River, talk to Speaker of the House Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, during a break in the Alaska House of Representatives floor session on Monday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Entering their final two regular weeks, Alaska legislators are narrowing their focus

Dozens of firefighters protested outside the Alaska Capitol last week, waving signs and chanting as they urged the Alaska House of Representatives to advance a… Continue reading

Reps. Jesse Sumner, R-Wasilla, and Jamie Allard, R-Eagle River, talk to Speaker of the House Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, during a break in the Alaska House of Representatives floor session on Monday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Debris from a home that partially fell into the Mendenhall River sits on its banks on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023, after record flooding eroded the bank the day before. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)

Alaska Senate unanimously OKs increasing maximum state disaster relief payments and eligibility

Bill by Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, raises limit to $50K instead of $21K, makes condo residents eligible

Debris from a home that partially fell into the Mendenhall River sits on its banks on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023, after record flooding eroded the bank the day before. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Rep. Sarah Vance, a Homer Republican, discusses a bill she sponsored requiring age verification to visit pornography websites while Rep. Andrew Gray, an Anchorage Democrat who added an amendment prohibiting children under 14 from having social media accounts, listens during a House floor session Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

House passes bill banning kids under 14 from social media, requiring age verification for porn sites

Key provisions of proposal comes from legislators at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Rep. Sarah Vance, a Homer Republican, discusses a bill she sponsored requiring age verification to visit pornography websites while Rep. Andrew Gray, an Anchorage Democrat who added an amendment prohibiting children under 14 from having social media accounts, listens during a House floor session Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Bert Stedman chairs a Senate Finance Committee meeting in 2023. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska Senate panel approves state spending plan with smaller dividend than House proposed

Senate proposal closes $270 million gap in House plan, but further negotiations are expected in May.

Sen. Bert Stedman chairs a Senate Finance Committee meeting in 2023. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Public safety officials and supporters hold signs during a protest at the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday afternoon calling for the restoration of state employee pensions. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Protest at Capitol by police, firefighters calls for House to pass stalled pension bill for state employees

Advocates say legislation is vital to solving retention and hiring woes in public safety jobs.

Public safety officials and supporters hold signs during a protest at the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday afternoon calling for the restoration of state employee pensions. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, and Speaker of the House Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, speak to legislators during a break in the March 12 joint session of the Alaska House and Senate. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska Senate plans fast action on correspondence problem, but House is ‘fundamentally divided’

State judge considering delay in ruling striking down program used by more than 22,000 students.

Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, and Speaker of the House Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, speak to legislators during a break in the March 12 joint session of the Alaska House and Senate. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Rep. Andrew Gray, D-Anchorage, turns to listen to a proposed amendment to the state budget on Monday, April 3, 2023, at the Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska House panel removes proposal to raise the state’s age of sexual consent to 18

Rep. Andrew Gray, author of the idea, says he will introduce a revised and updated version.

Rep. Andrew Gray, D-Anchorage, turns to listen to a proposed amendment to the state budget on Monday, April 3, 2023, at the Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska Senate considers plan that would allow teens to independently seek mental health care

Amendment by Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, would lower the age for behavioral health care to 16

Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Rep. George Rauscher, R-Sutton, speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, March 28, at the Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

House approves tougher route for environmental protections on Alaska rivers, lakes

HB95 would require lawmakers approve any “Tier III” labeling, the highest level of federal protection.

Rep. George Rauscher, R-Sutton, speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, March 28, at the Alaska State Capitol. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Rep. Andi Story (left, wearing gray), Rep. Sara Hannan (center, wearing purple) and Sen. Jesse Kiehl (wearing suit) talk with constituents following a legislative town hall on Thursday at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

All three members of Juneau’s legislative delegation seeking reelection

Reps. Andi Story and Sara Hannan, and Sen. Jesse Kiehl unopposed ahead of June 1 filing deadline

Rep. Andi Story (left, wearing gray), Rep. Sara Hannan (center, wearing purple) and Sen. Jesse Kiehl (wearing suit) talk with constituents following a legislative town hall on Thursday at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Rep. Sara Hannan (right) offers an overview of this year’s legislative session to date as Rep. Andi Story and Sen. Jesse Kiehl listen during a town hall by Juneau’s delegation on Thursday evening at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Multitude of education issues, budget, PFD among top areas of focus at legislative town hall

Juneau’s three Democratic lawmakers reassert support of more school funding, ensuring LGBTQ+ rights.

Rep. Sara Hannan (right) offers an overview of this year’s legislative session to date as Rep. Andi Story and Sen. Jesse Kiehl listen during a town hall by Juneau’s delegation on Thursday evening at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 13. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska House members propose constitutional amendment to allow public money for private schools

After a court ruling that overturned a key part of Alaska’s education correspondence programs, members of the state Legislature have proposed a constitutional amendment that… Continue reading

Rep. Sarah Vance, R-Homer, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 13. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Danielle Brubaker shops for homeschool materials at the IDEA Homeschool Curriculum Fair in Anchorage on Thursday. A court ruling struck down the part of Alaska law that allows correspondence school families to receive money for such purchases. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)

Lawmakers to wait on Alaska Supreme Court as families reel in wake of correspondence ruling

Cash allotments are ‘make or break’ for some families, others plan to limit spending.

Danielle Brubaker shops for homeschool materials at the IDEA Homeschool Curriculum Fair in Anchorage on Thursday. A court ruling struck down the part of Alaska law that allows correspondence school families to receive money for such purchases. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
A troller plies the waters of Sitka Sound in 2023. (Photo by Max Graham)

Alaska Senate proposes $7.5 million aid package for struggling fish processors

The Alaska Senate has proposed a new aid package for the state’s fish processing companies — some of which have been teetering among a crash… Continue reading

A troller plies the waters of Sitka Sound in 2023. (Photo by Max Graham)
Members of the Alaska House of Representatives watch as votes are tallied on House Bill 50, the carbon storage legislation, on Wednesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska House, seeking to boost oil and gas business, approves carbon storage bill

Story votes yes, Hannan votes no as governor-backed HB 50 sent to the state Senate for further work.

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives watch as votes are tallied on House Bill 50, the carbon storage legislation, on Wednesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Snow falls on the Alaska Capitol and the statue of William Henry Seward on Monday, April 1. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska’s carbon storage bill, once a revenue measure, is now seen as boon for oil and coal

Last year, when Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposed legislation last year to allow companies to inject carbon dioxide deep underground, he billed it as a way… Continue reading

Snow falls on the Alaska Capitol and the statue of William Henry Seward on Monday, April 1. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Students leave the Marie Drake Building, which houses local alternative education offerings including the HomeBRIDGE correspondence program, on April 4. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)

Educators and lawmakers trying to determine impacts, next steps of ruling denying state funds for homeschoolers

“Everybody wants to make sure there’s a way to continue supporting homeschool families,” Kiehl says.

Students leave the Marie Drake Building, which houses local alternative education offerings including the HomeBRIDGE correspondence program, on April 4. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
An outdoor basketball hoop is seen in Bethel in October 2022. Alaskans will be able to play only on sports teams that match their gender at birth through college if a new bill becomes law. (Photo by Claire Stremple)

Alaska House committee advances, expands proposal to bar trans girls from girls sports

Bill adds elementary, middle school and collegiate sports to limits in place for high school.

An outdoor basketball hoop is seen in Bethel in October 2022. Alaskans will be able to play only on sports teams that match their gender at birth through college if a new bill becomes law. (Photo by Claire Stremple)
TJ Beers holds a sign to advocate for the rights of people experiencing homelessness outside the state Capitol on April 9. Beers was homeless for four years and in three states. “I don’t know how I survived,” he said. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)

Lawmakers weigh whether to reduce or acknowledge rights of growing Alaska homeless population

As cities try to house people, Dunleavy’s protest bill would further criminalize them, advocates say.

TJ Beers holds a sign to advocate for the rights of people experiencing homelessness outside the state Capitol on April 9. Beers was homeless for four years and in three states. “I don’t know how I survived,” he said. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, speaks to members of the Senate majority caucus’ leadership group on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Schools, university and projects across Alaska are set to receive money from new budget bill

Alaska Senate sends draft capital budget to House as work continues on a state spending plan

Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, speaks to members of the Senate majority caucus’ leadership group on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)