Cancel culture: Legislative committee chair halts flow of COVID funds to Alaskans - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, April 15, 2021
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Cancel culture: Legislative committee chair halts flow of COVID funds to Alaskans

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GAMESMANSHIP? REP. CHRIS TUCK WANTS SPECIAL SESSION

Rep. Chris Tuck, Democrat chair of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, made a game-day decision on Wednesday and canceled the committee meeting he had scheduled several days prior — it was a meeting in which he was likely to be outvoted on getting federal funding out to Alaska municipalities and businesses.

He had already blocked progress on Friday on things like $290 million for small-business relief, and $586 million for support of local governments.

The response from Republican lawmakers was shock. The Alaska treasury has had the funds and the governor’s plan to get it out to where it belongs for more than two weeks. Businesses are starting to close permanently because the aid is too slow in coming.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Wednesday said the funds came to the state on April 20, and he had the plan to distribute them in front of the legislative committee on April 21.

But Tuck wanted a more detailed plan for the business and municipal spending. The Office of Management and Budget gave it to him the next day — April 22.

But last Friday when the committee met, it only acted on the funds that would go to state agencies. The grants and loans to businesses and municipalities are being held up by Tuck, who wants the entire Legislature to convene, possibly to try to politicize the funding. Tuck is demanding that the governor call a special session, although the Legislature is technically still in session until May 21 because it has not gaveled out “sine die.”

Fifteen days have passed since the committee has had the plan.

House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt said the committee’s continued delays on COVID-19 and CARES Act relief funding is unconscionable.

“The laundry list of Alaskan businesses shutting down is growing every day. Governor Dunleavy has laid out a plan to get money into Alaskans’ hands as expeditiously as possible. The Legislative Budget & Audit Committee only needs to approve this distribution to get money to Alaskans immediately.”

“Businesses are shutting down, Alaskans are struggling, we don’t have weeks to figure this out. The RPL process is the fastest way to get relief into the hands of Alaskans,” Pruitt said. “LB&A can accelerate this process; we join other Legislators in calling for swift action.”

The Legislature is currently under the 24-hour rule, allowing LB&A to meet at any time to approve the funding, he said.

“Personal agendas need to be set aside, Alaskans need to know they are the priority. No more delays; approve the money now,” Rep. Lance Pruitt

“We need this money in the hands of these entities now. We’re asking that the Legislature, the LB&A committee, move quickly on this,” Gov. Dunleavy said during a press availability on Wednesday.

Other Republicans observed that this is a “consequence moment.”

“The reason Tuck has control over the funds is because Republicans like Representatives Jennifer Johnston, Gary Knopp, Chuck Kopp, and Louise Stutes, made Tuck powerful. Power is a dangerous thing,” said a legislative aide on condition on anonymity. “Tuck now has the lives of all Alaskans in his hands.”

Tuck represents District 23, Anchorage. Connie Dougherty, a Republican, has filed to oppose him in November.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • To paraphrase, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls…the bell tolls for YOU, Chris Tuck!” The bell is tolling for those who have not cared for the interests of ALL Alaskans.

  • Why would anyone be surprised? This is what they do. It’s ALL they do.

  • If the Governor doesn’t move boldly NOW he is a one term Governor. The legislators are playing him for a fool.

    • Agree

    • He does not have the authority to move. If he did, Alaska businesses would already have it. A wholesale cleaning in both the House and Senate in November needs to be priority.

    • I know, right? It’s like they know where the bodies are buried only there aren’t any. They just keep shaking an empty envelope. Do something Mike, whatever you can up to the limits of the law and we will back you.

    • Sad to hear this about Chris Tuck. I’ve gone out knocking on doors with him in the past on unrelated issues. He’s a union brother that I respected especially because of his support for the full pfd in the past. Now that and much more seems to have changed for the worse. What is it about being a legislator that seems to change a person for the worse? Josh Revak you’ve got some explaining to do to your constituents as well.

  • How did Tuck get elected in the first place? …..

    • Tuck is an IBEW hack and owned by the NEA and other govt unions. Need I say more?

    • Unions

  • The Governor, Lance Pruitt and all the Republicans and Democrats (if they care) need to be out EVERYDAY telling the people of Alaska that the Legislature is not convening to disperse the CARES Act funds to Alaska. Where is Cathy Giessel? Where is Bryce Edgmon? Alaskans need to demand their elected officials get off their collective a$$es and disperse the money given to the state from the Federal governments to help small business, local governments and health care.

  • No surprise here. The only surprise should be that these “Powerful” clowns will be back in Juneau in 2021 .C’mon Governor, STAND TALL!

  • He told Senator Hughes that the statute that gives the Governor power to allocate the funds, AS 26.23.050 (c) is un-Constitutional. Yet, just like they have done with the PFD, this statute, along with Article II, Section 16 are valid. It is up to legislature to repeal the statute or the courts find un-Constititutional, until then it applies! Yet Tuck could care less!

  • I am hoping that there are a number of Anchorage Republicans who are in favor of voting this bozo out of the State Legislature. This is just unacceptable, downright plain insane and truly immoral. Vote these yahoos out of office!!!

    • I agree Jeff, the only way things change is if some or all of the “we ain’t doing anything” group gets voted out. They need to be held accountable for their inaction on behalf of all Alaskans.

  • I would suggest that some saying he can’t review AS26.23.050. He does have the authority. Walker used it while in office. It’s time for the Governor to either show that he is a leader or a follower.

  • Our legislature is a disgrace. They are not for the Alaska public, they are for themselves and for the people who lobby them. It is time for the Alaska public to vote these people out.

  • I am sorry to say this but business owners and their employees who are suffering have in no small part themselves to blame for allowing people like LeBon, Kopp, Knopf, Johnston, Stutes and their ilk to be elected. Those legislators put this bastardized Majority in place and it is for that reason we have Alaska being the worst state in the nation for getting these federal dollars out to small businesses right now. There are deadlines for getting this money out and those deadlines are fast approaching, but you can see for yourself the misplace priorities of LeBon and company. Honestly, I do not blame Tuck; he is a big union guy and no one expects him to look out for small Alaska businesses as they tend to be nonunion. Nor do I really blame Edgmon as he is completely about looking out for indigenous people, grants and the like. Edgmon knows nothing about Alaska businesses and the Alaska economy, and nothing he has ever said gives anyone an expectation he does know anything, but the districts that elected LeBon, Stutes, etc. have business people who put Edgmon and Tuck in their leadership positions. All Alaska is in fact suffering because of the poor performance of the bastardized Majority. If those traitors to the brand are re-elected then the Alaska recession of 2020 will become the Alaska depression of 2021. Is that plain-speaking enough?

  • Call your legislator, or call all of them, or send them all and email at [email protected] let them know how horrible of a job they are doing at representing the people who elected them.

  • I have understood the fact that “elections have consequences” for a long time and I remember that former President Obama reminded us all when he disregarded everything that the Congressional Minority Republicans wanted when bargaining with him on legislative issues.

    I find it interesting that a bunch of commenters are blaming a group of Republicans for joining the Democrats in January of 2018 thus giving them control of the House of Representatives and putting Representative Chris Tuck in the position of chair of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee. Bi-partisian majorities have ruled the Alaska Legialature in the past so this is nothing new. Legislative organizing “log jams” need to be broken up so that the business of the state can get done.

    As I remember, there was almost a tie in the number of Republicans and Democrats elected to the 40 member Alaska House of Representatives in November of 2018. Even thought there were more Republican House members elected, Republican Representative Gary Knopp’s refused to join up with the Republicans in January of 2019 and Republican Representative Gabrielle LeDoux was another outlier. Neither party could organize a majority for about a month. So, who is really to blame for a bi-partisian Alaskan House of Representatives? I say Alaskan voters, this is what we wanted. Elections have consequences.

  • Keep those eyes open, conservatives. I do not think we have seen all of it yet. If ‘commoners’ do not get the message before the ‘vote’, they never will. The leftist democrats are determined to excrete on us in every situation. Citizens mean nothing to them. The left agenda is not the health and wellbeing of Alaska and Alaskans. It’s expanding leftism into every nook and cranny of our lives. At our expense. These supposedly “representatives” of the people represent nothing but their own leftist, socialist cronies and programs, not the people.

  • Elections do have consequences and I would hope that we vote to defeat every legislator that has voted to reduce the PFD, fail to support the budget cuts, allow Tuck and legislators both Republicans and Democrats fail to get this money ? to the people in Alaska. The Governor has done an exceptional job and was going to send the money out until the legislature leadership said “you have no authority to do so”. They wrote to the Feds accusing the Governor of planning to spend it illegally. They threatened to go to court to stop him.

    The Governor facing a recall vote for doing his job as the people who elected him wanted him to do it. Wisely would think twice about stepping out and doing his job again only to be criticized by the liberals and power hungry legislature and courts. But he has done his best to give the legislature a chance to help Alaskans. But they would rather stay home and criticize the Governor while Alaskans suffer.

    It is now past time for him to act and send the money out and count on the support of Alaskans he helps and his supporters. Act Now Governor “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!! We will have your back.

    The legislative leadership which is still in session so they can play games with the Governor’s proper vetoes should remove Tuck for cause and replace him with someone that will act to help Alaskans!!! Do it now! No excuses or winning!!!

    Unfortunately we have people that will have seats that as incumbents will not be voted out because of the demographics of their districts, strength of their money supporters, no one willing or able to raise the money and support to challenge the incumbents. Term limits would give us better government but will never happen unless it can be done by voters and forced on incumbents.

  • If you want Bryce Edgmon as the House Speaker and Democrats like Harriet Drummond and Matt Claman chairing key committees, don’t run as a Republican. Be honest with the voters and yourself and run as a Democrat or Green or Socialist. Have some integrity. You know who you are.

  • I agree! It seems to be their recent election tactic talk like a conservative, get elected and walk like a liberal Democrat!

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