Alaska Legislature

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
State Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, explains during Wednesday’s floor session how a bill she is sponsoring will add to the number of Alaska Native languages officially recognized by the state and expand the role of a Native language preservation council.

Alaska Native language expansion passes House

Bill by Juneau lawmaker adds more officially recognized dialects, expands preservation council’s role

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
State Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, explains during Wednesday’s floor session how a bill she is sponsoring will add to the number of Alaska Native languages officially recognized by the state and expand the role of a Native language preservation council.
`Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
James and Claudia Criss of Juneau testify Tuesday during a House State Affairs Committee meeting in opposition to a bill that would repeal ranked choice voting and open primaries in Alaska.

Will elections bills get a vote this session?

Repeal of ranked choice voting appears doomed to defeat, far-ranging procedural changes still viable

`Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
James and Claudia Criss of Juneau testify Tuesday during a House State Affairs Committee meeting in opposition to a bill that would repeal ranked choice voting and open primaries in Alaska.
State Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok, left, confers with Rep. Craig Johnson, during floor debate Wednesday about a bill prohibiting state and local governments from imposing firearms restrictions during disaster declarations. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Ban on gun limits during emergencies passes House

Supporters say it’s about hunting for food during crises, opponents call it reckless and dangerous

State Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok, left, confers with Rep. Craig Johnson, during floor debate Wednesday about a bill prohibiting state and local governments from imposing firearms restrictions during disaster declarations. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Rep. Andrew Gray, an Anchorage Democrat, speak to a crowd outside at the steps of the Alaska State Capitol in January. Gray introduced a bill Monday that would make short-term rental registration a requirement and limit operators to just one unit per person in Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/ Juneau Empire File)
Rep. Andrew Gray, an Anchorage Democrat, speak to a crowd outside at the steps of the Alaska State Capitol in January. Gray introduced a bill Monday that would make short-term rental registration a requirement and limit operators to just one unit per person in Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/ Juneau Empire File)
Members of the Alaska State House vote 35-3 to pass a bill Wednesday expanding Medicaid coverage for new mothers to 12 months instead of 60 days. The Senate has already passed the bill, but must concur with House changes before it is sent to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who introduced the bill. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Extended Medicaid coverage for new moms passes House

Bill providing one year of care is a proceedural step from being sent to Gov. Mike Dunleavy

Members of the Alaska State House vote 35-3 to pass a bill Wednesday expanding Medicaid coverage for new mothers to 12 months instead of 60 days. The Senate has already passed the bill, but must concur with House changes before it is sent to Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who introduced the bill. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, an Anchorage Democrat, speaks to members of the Alaska Senate about a bill she sponsored that would make Juneteenth a paid state holiday in Alaska. The senate passed the bill 16-4 Thursday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, an Anchorage Democrat, speaks to members of the Alaska Senate about a bill she sponsored that would make Juneteenth a paid state holiday in Alaska. The senate passed the bill 16-4 Thursday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, vows a bill boosting state employees pensions will pass “the 33rd Alaska Legislature” during a rally by about 70 union supporters on the steps of the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday. Kiehl is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which spent much of Tuesday hearing testimony about a pension bill, but Senate and union leaders acknowledge the proposal will likely have to wait until next year before it has a realistic chance of making it through the full Legislature. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

State pension reform not yet ready for retirement

Legislative and union leaders say boost for public employees unlikely this session, target next year

State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, vows a bill boosting state employees pensions will pass “the 33rd Alaska Legislature” during a rally by about 70 union supporters on the steps of the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday. Kiehl is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which spent much of Tuesday hearing testimony about a pension bill, but Senate and union leaders acknowledge the proposal will likely have to wait until next year before it has a realistic chance of making it through the full Legislature. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, left, addresses constituents during a town hall event on Saturday, April 15, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski senator’s bill ‘lumbers’ toward governor’s desk

Senate Bill 87 aims to make locally milled lumber more widely available for the construction of housing in Alaska

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, left, addresses constituents during a town hall event on Saturday, April 15, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
State Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, speaks in opposition to a bill allocating 75% of spendable Permanent Fund earnings to state programs and 25% to dividends during Monday’s floor session.

Senate passes $1,300 PFD bill despite dissension

Four majority members vote no on “75-25” bill, making it vulnerable to veto or other politicking.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
State Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, speaks in opposition to a bill allocating 75% of spendable Permanent Fund earnings to state programs and 25% to dividends during Monday’s floor session.
House Speaker Cathy Tilton, a Wasilla Republican, listens Monday morning to amendments to a bill she sponsored that seeks to bar the state and local governments in Alaska from mandating restrictions or closures to firearms and retailers in the event of a disaster. (Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire)
House Speaker Cathy Tilton, a Wasilla Republican, listens Monday morning to amendments to a bill she sponsored that seeks to bar the state and local governments in Alaska from mandating restrictions or closures to firearms and retailers in the event of a disaster. (Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire)
Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, listens to a procedural discussion by senators during Friday’s floor session about a bill modifying how Permanent Fund dividends are calculated. The bill, which reduce PFDs significantly from those under previously calculations unless the state has an abundance of revenue, is scheduled for further debate and a vote on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

‘75-25’ PFD plan reaches Senate floor

Change would drastically shrink dividends, allocate most Permanent Fund earnings to state spending

Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, listens to a procedural discussion by senators during Friday’s floor session about a bill modifying how Permanent Fund dividends are calculated. The bill, which reduce PFDs significantly from those under previously calculations unless the state has an abundance of revenue, is scheduled for further debate and a vote on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Teaser

State association considers transgender ban on student sports

Change would limit girls teams to birth-assigned sex; public meeting scheduled Monday

Teaser
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks during a news conference in which options for a long-range fiscal plan were discussed. Dunleavy said in the coming days, he expects a sales tax proposal to be drafted and that a special session to create long-term plan is possible. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks during a news conference in which options for a long-range fiscal plan were discussed. Dunleavy said in the coming days, he expects a sales tax proposal to be drafted and that a special session to create long-term plan is possible. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
2Rep. Andrew Gray, D-Anchorage, and Sarah Vance, R-Homer, of the House Judiciary Committee listen to Alaska State Commission for Human Rights Executive Director Robert Corbisier explain why his agency is seeking changes to its name and duties, including exempting religious and other nonprofit organizations from anti-discrimination workplace rules. A bill making those changes got its first hearing by the committee Wednesday about an hour after it was introduced on the House floor. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Bill seeks to allow workplace discrimination by religious, nonprofit organizations

State human rights commission seeking change after eliminating LGBTQ+ protections

2Rep. Andrew Gray, D-Anchorage, and Sarah Vance, R-Homer, of the House Judiciary Committee listen to Alaska State Commission for Human Rights Executive Director Robert Corbisier explain why his agency is seeking changes to its name and duties, including exempting religious and other nonprofit organizations from anti-discrimination workplace rules. A bill making those changes got its first hearing by the committee Wednesday about an hour after it was introduced on the House floor. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Rep. Jamie Allard, R-Eagle River, exchanges words with Rep. CJ McCormick, D-Bethel, before Wednesday’s House floor session. The two legislators were on opposite sides of a 4-3 House Education Committee vote earlier during the morning to advance a bill restricting references to sex and gender in public schools, with Allard supporting the bill and McCormick opposing.

‘Parental rights’ bill expanded to require parents’ OK for entire curriculum

Legislation restricting sex and gender references in schools advances out of first committee.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
Rep. Jamie Allard, R-Eagle River, exchanges words with Rep. CJ McCormick, D-Bethel, before Wednesday’s House floor session. The two legislators were on opposite sides of a 4-3 House Education Committee vote earlier during the morning to advance a bill restricting references to sex and gender in public schools, with Allard supporting the bill and McCormick opposing.
Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Senate Finance Committee co-chair Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, right, listens to Sealaska Corp. Board Chair Joe Nelson testify about the committee’s proposed budget during a hearing April 20.

Revised Senate budget contains smaller education increase, $1,300 PFD

Finance Committee proposing one-time $680 per-pupil boost in attempt to avoid deficit

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Senate Finance Committee co-chair Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, right, listens to Sealaska Corp. Board Chair Joe Nelson testify about the committee’s proposed budget during a hearing April 20.
Stripped sections of bark and hardened drops of tree sap are seen on May 24, 2018, on trees near Big Lake that are infested with bark beetles. That kind of damage kills infested spruce trees. (Yereth Rosen / Alaska Beacon)

House-passed bill would trim the time needed for Alaska loggers to cut state-owned forests

Measure could reduce wildfire risks, but critics worry about overuse by the state agency in charge.

Stripped sections of bark and hardened drops of tree sap are seen on May 24, 2018, on trees near Big Lake that are infested with bark beetles. That kind of damage kills infested spruce trees. (Yereth Rosen / Alaska Beacon)
Rep. Andi Story, a Juneau Democrat, talks with a guest page on the House floor Wednesday morning. Story, a member of the House Education Committee, was among the members in the minority who expressed concern a bill giving teachers end-of-year bonuses will be used by House leaders to avoid a larger and more general increase to public school funding this session. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A step forward for teacher bonuses, a step back for a BSA increase

House committee advances year-end educator payments, but outlook for school funding boost dims

Rep. Andi Story, a Juneau Democrat, talks with a guest page on the House floor Wednesday morning. Story, a member of the House Education Committee, was among the members in the minority who expressed concern a bill giving teachers end-of-year bonuses will be used by House leaders to avoid a larger and more general increase to public school funding this session. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Rep. Jennie Armstrong, D-Anchorage, and Tristin Walsh, a staff member for Armstrong, prepare to present her bill seeking to prevent LGBTQ+ discrimination to the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Rep. Jennie Armstrong, D-Anchorage, and Tristin Walsh, a staff member for Armstrong, prepare to present her bill seeking to prevent LGBTQ+ discrimination to the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, explains the provisions of his bill making confidential the addresses of law enforcement officers, their families, and victims of sexual assault and domestic violence during Monday’s floor session. The bill passed unanimously, as did a related bill making peer support programs for law enforcement officers confidential.

Confidential address registry for officers, victims passes Senate

Bill by Juneau’s Jesse Kiehl forwards mail from state P.O. box; confidential counseling bill also OK’d

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire 
State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, explains the provisions of his bill making confidential the addresses of law enforcement officers, their families, and victims of sexual assault and domestic violence during Monday’s floor session. The bill passed unanimously, as did a related bill making peer support programs for law enforcement officers confidential.