Extend or expire? Governor asks Legislature whether it will extend disaster status - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, September 23, 2021
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Extend or expire? Governor asks Legislature whether it will extend disaster status

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Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s Chief of Staff Ben Stevens this week asked Senate President Cathy Giessel and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon if they plan to extend the health emergency declaration the Legislature passed in March.

The Declaration of Public Health Emergency Disaster, authorized by SB 241, ends on Nov. 15, and it takes legislative action to extend it.

The emergency powers allowed the governor to create orders that at times shut down parts of the economy, as he did early in the COVID-19 outbreak; enact safety measures, such as mobilizing resources to Bristol Bay for the fishing season; and move health resources where they need to go to meet the challenge of the highly contagious virus.

The Dunleavy Administration, for instance, was able to relax regulations so that people on public assistance health programs can access their doctors through telemedicine, something that is normally prohibited.

In a letter exchange between Stevens and the legislative leaders, Stevens reminded them that in two weeks the emergency declaration expire, and asked if they had polled their members to consider convening a Special Session on extending the declaration.

“If so, the Office of the Governor would like to know the outcome of that poll,” Stevens wrote.

They had not. But they shot a letter back immediately saying that that was only because he had not asked them to.

Giessel and Edgmon also wrote they would be “happy” to poll their members but would need the governor’s help to get to the 40-vote threshold needed to call the members back to Juneau.

That’s unlikely to happen. A number of Republicans are not interested in going back to Juneau to allow Democrats to use the time to try to override vetoes.

And it doesn’t appear the governor, by calling for a special session himself, would want to force legislators to travel to Juneau in the middle of November, with COVID-19 cases surging at numbers not seen before in Alaska.

That leaves another option: The governor can let the disaster declaration expire, and then issue a 30-day emergency declaration without the Legislature, which would extend his authority to mobilize resources on a month-to-month basis. This could continue for a while, or at least until the Legislature is back in session in mid-January.

In the original bill for the declaration of public health emergency disaster, the governor asked the Disaster Declaration be extended to March 12, 2021 — a full year. That didn’t fly with the Legislature. The Senate’s version of the bill, under Senate President Giessel, cut the emergency delegation short to Sept. 1, 2020. But Speaker Bryce Edgmon said there were too many unknowns, and the declaration was ultimately extended to Nov. 15.

A new disaster declaration, handled in 30-day increments, could help maintain what is currently in place to slow the spread of the virus, and allow the medical community to meet the needs of patients who need critical care. It would allow the governor to maintain the Emergency Operations Center, testing at airports, and getting testing kits, equipment, masks and gloves to where they are needed most.

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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

  • Isn’t the idea behind an “emergency declaration” to give the Executive Branch (Governor, Mayor, President) the ability to quickly respond to an emerging crisis *until the Legislative Branch can convene and draft legislation* to address the crisis?

  • Expire…the hospitals were never overwhelmed in ten months.
    If the Legislature votes to continue this “hands off” government approach to leadership, then we must all admit that any semblance of a representative Democracy has fallen in Alaska.
    I have spoken personally to my representative months ago and tried to make the case for ending the “emergency declaration”.
    Our country was not set up to run for long periods under this type of distress.
    If you study history, authoritarian regimes always rises during an extended “emergency measure”.
    Please contact your representatives and senators and say “enough is enough!”

  • What emergency?

    • ^^^This.

  • I think the people have had more than enough of these legislative special sessions, especially from this current legislature. The voters changed the landscape of the Legislature in the Primary Election and will make a few more adjustments next Tuesday….So if the governor can do this from his office that may well be the best choice to make.

  • It is time to end the madness of perpetuating imprisonment on a population under the guise of “saving” them. At the 10 month mark, I am confident the BS flag can be hoisted on this whole sham. End the suspension of the bill of rights and let us get back to living our lives.

  • Poor ball baby Bryce. Always willing to play the political card instead of doing what’s best for the people of Alaska. He is so full of hate for this governor, it really is affecting his job to be an effective leader. I wonder what he’ll do when his house of cards falls apart and implodes on him? When he can no longer afford to take PFD money to fund his socialist agenda. I think people are now beginning to wise up and to know truly just what kind of a man he is.

  • It is no longer an emergency. It’s not an emerging crisis. It has been handled as best as can be expected. It’s time to end the disaster declaration.

  • The governor can veto any emergency order-this period of disorder is on him.

    just saying

    Guess he is just another pawn of Soros. Follow the money.

  • Why do we think it’s okay for the government to impose a “state of emergency” for an entire year? An emergency is “an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action.” Nine months into this situation, the only thing possibly unforeseen about this situation is that it is NOT a revisit of the black plague, but rather just another viral respiratory disease on the order of seasonal flu. After nine months, it seems like the hospitals should be able to provision themselves, not rely on the governor to “get testing kits, equipment, masks and gloves to where they are needed most.” (If the legislature or governor was talking about getting actual treatments that are being withheld – hydroxychloroquine, for instance – it *might* make a little more sense.) And the testing at the airport – $250 a pop! – is a racket. We should probably be able to supply a lifetime supply of masks and gloves with what they’re raking in at the airport.
    The rising number of “cases” without symptoms is a big smokescreen. As others have noted, when have we ever obsessed about any other viral respiratory illness like this? The hospital numbers, even being inflated as they are by listing “hospitalized WITH covid” are not scar…but why are we NOT told how many have been hospitalized BECAUSE OF covid? Even including in the “with covid” numbers, people like mothers in for c-sections that test positive for the virus, we are still not seeing alarming epidemic-level numbers.
    Dunleavy should be calling the legislature alright – to tell them NO MORE EMERGENCY.
    Alaskans should be able to figure this out themselves instead of relying on Big Brother. Those who would give up basic liberty for a little safety, deserve neither.

    • A little “perceived safety” that is!

      • Amen!

    • Exactly ! There is no emergency and thus no reason to extend anything. The CDC guidelines didn’t work at all, so saying that they want again to flatten the curve based on the results of massive and sometimes false testing is ridiculous. End the Mandates, and the Emergency NOW !

  • Easy way to stop this, Big Mike is put out this executive order:
    Any and all public salaries/contracts and benefits will be suspended during future lockdowns.

    Done, solved, moving on with life.

  • The governor has violated your civil liberties the ruling both case law and case precedence is set if you own a business and have lost monetarily you can go after him and the mayors! And you will win if you do it right get all you business partners together if you are serious drop me a line.

  • No more emergency declarations for a phony disease!

  • Ordinarily, I would prefer that the Legislature legislate. Rule by Executive decree is a fundamentally bad idea for a democracy. That said, if there is a way through the current situation without putting power back into the hands of Cathy Giessel and Bryce Edgmon that may be a better short term answer. Both are corrosive leaders, neither can be trusted. I’m with Big Mike.

  • Bad results from following the CDC guidelines and Bad Policy shutting down “non-essential” business, schools, churches and places where people gather, nothing could have been worse, and they want to continue this ? I would call it insanity, but this the New World Order at work. What part of Masks Don’t Work does the Governor not get ? The Governor needs some new advisors ! Try listening to the truth about COVID as expressed by America’s Frontline Doctors…

    americasfrontlinedoctors.com/ (Must Read should try it too.)

    Stop following the Agenda of the Rockefeller Foundation, which is the blueprint for the Globalist takeover… It’s not a secret… And it’s not a conspiracy theory …


  • Business can only take so much, and then it’s time to close down! 9 Months is long enough for this emergency . It up to the people of this state, and country to do as they wish. We do live in America, and of course we are supposed to be free. So wear a mask if you wish, sanitize your hands if you wish, social distance if you wish, and please everyone get on with your lives. Thank you? and God bless.

  • Dunleavy cancels 2021 tourist season while ignoring the science. His lack of understanding will send the State into a death spiral. Tourists start making their plans right after the holidays. As long as we are in the news as a state with a fast rising infection rate, people will avoid the State this summer. Sure open it all up, then nobody comes. Better save some cash for the next year ahead will be worse under this governor.

    • Great point. So sad that our politicians believe in fear, power and money from Big Brother rather than reality and the ability of Alaskans to manage their own lives.
      Dunleavy has been a resounding disappointment. We need to find someone who really *will* stand for Alaskans, tall or not.

  • Until Alaskans grow a pair and pull up their boot straps this criminal in southeast will continue the. Violations, if you business owners are ready to unite and fight. I will gladly show you how to win and put him and the mayors in their place.

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