Alaska Legislature

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.
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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.
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)
Juneau poet Lin Davis reads a poem at a demonstration in Dimond Court Plaza across from the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Dozens of protestors gathered to support strong actions by the state to combat climate change. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Juneau poet Lin Davis reads a poem at a demonstration in Dimond Court Plaza across from the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. Dozens of protestors gathered to support strong actions by the state to combat climate change. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Staff, lawmakers and members of the press gather for the first Senate Judiciary Committee meeting of the 32nd Legislature on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. While Senators moved ahead with work, the House of Representatives was once again unable to organize. (Peter Segall/Juneau Empire)
Staff, lawmakers and members of the press gather for the first Senate Judiciary Committee meeting of the 32nd Legislature on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. While Senators moved ahead with work, the House of Representatives was once again unable to organize. (Peter Segall/Juneau Empire)
Members of the Alaska House of Representatives take their oaths of office on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 in the Alaska State Capitol at Juneau, Alaska. Members were allowed to remove their COVID-19 masks as they took the oath. (James Brooks/Anchorage Daily News, Pool)
Members of the Alaska House of Representatives take their oaths of office on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 in the Alaska State Capitol at Juneau, Alaska. Members were allowed to remove their COVID-19 masks as they took the oath. (James Brooks/Anchorage Daily News, Pool)
The Juneau Police Department and other law enforcement agencies say they are prepared for the possibility of political violence at the Capitol building on the day of the presidential inauguration. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

No known threats of violence, but police say they’re prepared

“The Juneau Police Department and our partners have not received any specific threats,” the agency said.

The Juneau Police Department and other law enforcement agencies say they are prepared for the possibility of political violence at the Capitol building on the day of the presidential inauguration. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Even as coronavirus numbers are going down and vaccines are being distributed, pandemic-related facilities like the testing site at Juneau International Airport, seen here in this Oct. 12 file photo, are scheduled to remain for some time, according to city health officials. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)

Vaccines are coming, but pandemic facilities will remain

Testing sites and other COVID-19 operations will continue, officials say, but infections are trending down.

Even as coronavirus numbers are going down and vaccines are being distributed, pandemic-related facilities like the testing site at Juneau International Airport, seen here in this Oct. 12 file photo, are scheduled to remain for some time, according to city health officials. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Staff pass through a COVID-19 screening checkpoint set up on the ground floor of the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The new session of the Alaska State Legislature starts Jan. 19, and some lawmakers and their staff have already arrived in Juneau. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

New Legislature, same issues, says Juneau’s delegation

Alaska’s perennial problems are likely to dominate the session that starts next week, lawmakers say.

Staff pass through a COVID-19 screening checkpoint set up on the ground floor of the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The new session of the Alaska State Legislature starts Jan. 19, and some lawmakers and their staff have already arrived in Juneau. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage, gets her temperature taken as she enters the Alaska State Capitol on Monday, May 18, 2020. New policies will require all staff and legislators to wear masks in chambers. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Legislative Council sets mask policy for upcoming session

Only one representative out of twelve legislators voted against the mask policy.

Rep. Jennifer Johnston, R-Anchorage, gets her temperature taken as she enters the Alaska State Capitol on Monday, May 18, 2020. New policies will require all staff and legislators to wear masks in chambers. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File
The U.S. Flag and Alaska state flag fly on the roof of the Alaska State Capitol on Oct. 17. With just over a month before legislative session is set to begin, some lawmakers are waiting to lock down digs. One factor: uncertainty about how — and for how long — lawmakers plan to meet.
Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File
The U.S. Flag and Alaska state flag fly on the roof of the Alaska State Capitol on Oct. 17. With just over a month before legislative session is set to begin, some lawmakers are waiting to lock down digs. One factor: uncertainty about how — and for how long — lawmakers plan to meet.
The Alaska State Capitol on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. The state’s emergency declaration for COVID-19 ends Nov. 15, and lawmakers have asked Gov. Mike Dunleavy to call a special session to extend it. Dunleavy issued a second emergency declaration Friday but some lawmakers have said that violates state law. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
The Alaska State Capitol on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. The state’s emergency declaration for COVID-19 ends Nov. 15, and lawmakers have asked Gov. Mike Dunleavy to call a special session to extend it. Dunleavy issued a second emergency declaration Friday but some lawmakers have said that violates state law. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, expresses his sadness about the effect the budget will have on his community during a Joint Session of Alaska Legislature at the Capitol on Thursday, July 11, 2019. A recount has affirmed Cohhill lost a tight primary race. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, expresses his sadness about the effect the budget will have on his community during a Joint Session of Alaska Legislature at the Capitol on Thursday, July 11, 2019. A recount has affirmed Cohhill lost a tight primary race. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Primary results suggest likely Legislature leadership shakeup
Primary results suggest likely Legislature leadership shakeup
Lawmakers dive back into work
Lawmakers dive back into work