Small businesses and municipalities wait for Legislature to act - Must Read Alaska
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Monday, October 18, 2021
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Small businesses and municipalities wait for Legislature to act

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Municipalities and businesses bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact are waiting for money that the federal government has sent to the State of Alaska to distribute as economic aid.

But the Legislature is taking its time getting the money out the door to its intended recipients.

After over 10 days of delay, the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee met on Friday, but only approved funding for state programs.

Small businesses — the ones that have struggled to qualify for federal loans — are in limbo because of legislative inaction and business closures have begun: In Juneau, the Art Sutch Photography studio is closing, and in Anchorage, the Last Frontier Bar has closed for good. In Soldotna, it took a GoFundMe campaign to save Ammo-Can Coffee Shop.

Nonprofits are also shaking money out of the sofa to help the tens of thousands of Alaskans who are out of work.

After the funds arrived in the State Treasury in two tranches two weeks ago, the Dunleavy Administration was ready with a plan, one that he quickly put in front of legislators within two days.

Some of the details included $586 million for communities; $290 million for small business loans; $50 million for nonprofits, $10 million for homeless interventions, and $337 million for public health. There’s also $29 million for public transit; $32 million for Anchorage and Fairbanks airports, and $100 million in aid for fisheries.

But it is up to the Legislature to make the needed appropriations.

The LB&A committee on Friday funded $125 million — a sliver of the monies the federal government sent. for schools, transportation, and public safety items. Funding went to State programs, and none was sent to the rest of the economy — none for municipalities, none for nonprofits, and none for the struggling small businesses.

The bulk of the funding is waiting for action, while legislative leaders first tried to convene and take control of the funds through an appropriations process, and then asked the governor to split out the municipal appropriations into 120 separate “RPL” items– one for each community.

Now, LB&A won’t meet again until Wednesday to take up those items.

Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday begged the committee to act quickly. He wants the funding out where it was intended, according to the plan submitted to the federal government. He’s especially concerned about small businesses that don’t have much, if any, cushion left.

If the Legislature does not act because of political tangles over the distribution of the funds, the governor would have to wait 45 days to release the money in accordance with his plans, which were crafted in cooperation with the Legislature, municipal leaders and nonprofit organizations. That’s how the Revised Program Legislative (RPL) process works.

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Written by

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

  • Let’s remember what our legislators think of us in November! They have nothing but contempt for we the people.

  • All of the Representatives and Senators need to have their feet held to the fire. If they do not move and move quickly there should be a wholesale change in Legislatures and Senators in the next election period in of story. The Legislative Body is a Joke while our Small Businesses are the ones suffering. THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW.

    • “All of the Representatives and Senators need to have their feet held to the fire.”
      Let me make a slight change (All of the entities who have bought and paid for our Representatives and Senators need to have their feet held to the fire.)
      “Citizens United” has destroyed our government process.

      • No truer statement has been made. Thank You!

  • Please all write or call your representative and the leaders. Tell them how you feel, and request the disbursement of the Federal monies swiftly!

    • So basically the the attitude is “it is urgent when we get around to it”.

      • Apparently, this from Giessel the weasel:

        Hello, Mr. (***),
        The Legislature is acting as quickly as possible to unravel legal issues related to the money.
        You are specifically interested in the small business monies.
        The Small Business money is complicated by the many banks and lending institutions that want to administer the program. In an effort to clarify who will administer, there are discussions going on. It takes time.
        Thank you for your message.

        Best regards,
        Senator Cathy Giessel, MS, APRN, FAANP
        Senate District N
        (House Districts 27 and 28)

        Senate President

        • Is seems as if Senator Giessel left her BS off her signature block. Oh wait! The BS is in the content!

  • Numbers have been revised and this Covid bull has been less dangerous than the flu,,, in fact most covid death certificates are fraudulent with take your pick of the true ailment. Gun shot yep there’s covid in there somewhere hook um up to a ventilator and the hospital gets 39 grand… Government is the bastard virus and they have shown their contempt at we the people. Their manipulation has been a fulfillment of never let a good crisis go to waste… Power has infected these weak kneed paid for by special interest prostitutes……Those who lose Businesses should seek lawsuits against the gutless shills.

    • Giessel, Edgmon and Berkowitz are looking for bailout monies because of their over spending and poor management. Oh! Forgot to mention they are Democrats.

  • Does it really surprise anyone that the left wing politicians driving the ‘political’ bus in Alaska, don’t care about the citizens or their businesses, especially if they’re not leftists. They have made that abundantly clear for a long time. You can be sure the “legislative majority” is receiving their ‘paychecks’ and benefits. They and the rest of the “public employees”, are sole beneficiaries of the Wuhan v and economic chaos that threatens every self employed, privately employed and self sufficient citizen. As much as I read, I haven’t found one instance of “public employees” being laid off or furloughed in Alaska, in order to abate spending. Instead, the “legislative majority” wants to take and squander the ’emergency’ federal funds, our PFD and spend the state savings to support their schemes, because they can. Citizen receive naught. The perfect opportunity to advance the leftist agenda. Keep the citizens cowed and locked down and “emergency” authority gets a free unconstitutional rein. In the meantime, ignore every detail that might help us in general, while whipping up a frenzy of “support” for their agenda. If Alaskans aren’t mad, they should be.

    • Well stated!

    • How do you get to the “left wing politicians driving the ‘political’ bus” when the governor and the senate are in the thrall of the GOP?
      Were things better when the GOP had the whole state wrapped up? I think not. That is how we got ourselves into this fine mess, Ollie.

      • Greg,
        Surely your head hasn’t been in the sand for the last 7 or 8 years. Left wing politicians have the majority in the state house and enough rino’s to swing the state senate too. The Governor is trying to straighten out the fiduciary mess that the left has Alaska in. He’s being fought at every turn by the leftist idiots that would rather break Alaska and Alaskans than do their job. That job would be “guiding” Alaska and Alaskans along the best path to cure our financial woes. Saving Alaska’s bacon, not eating it. Instead, the leftists insist on spending every dollar they have and a multitude of dollars they don’t have. Where are those ’emergency’ federal dollars going, “for the people”? Where is our PFD? As long as leftists have their hands in the state pocket, Alaskans are receiving nothing but BS. Blaming this mess on the GOP is simply another dem/socialist/liberal attempt to dodge their own fault/responsibility in causing it. You wouldn’t happen to be one of them, would you?

  • Time for President Trump, Senator Sullivan and Congressman Young to step up and help Governor Dunleavy out, the people’s governor. Alaska is in desperate need of a course correction.

  • I was told by Rep. Johnson that part of that money OK’d was for the arts! Sen. Cathy Giessel and her buddies don’t care about us.

    • Johnston should resign, racist. She should have told You that federal dollars will be used to Bail Out the Democrats and RINOs. Namely, Edgmon, Giessel, Von Imhoff, Kopp, Stedman and herself. Johnston should resign now.

      • Forgot-name Governor want-to-be Berkowitz and that Representative from Kodiak.

  • When did non-profit organizations become part of the government?

    Why do they even have a chair at the table?

    Small business makes the State click.

  • It should be recognized that many of the powers being exercised by the Governor are powers that the Legislature has delegated to him. In SB 241, now known as Chapter 10 SLA 2020, the Legislature extended the emergency declared by the Governor. Oddly, the legislation provides that unless the DHSS certifies that an emergency DOES NOT exist, the powers delegated to the Governor will, apparently continue indefinitely. I think this is fundamentally backwards: IMO, the emergency should extend until a time certain or the Governor declares that the facts no longer support the emergency.

    The role of the Legislature in a Constitutional government of limited powers is more than to appropriate money. The Legislature, through the passage of laws, should set fundamental policy — not just delegate those policy-making powers to the Governor. The current situation needs to be repaired fairly quickly if we are regain the footing essential to a limited Constitutional government. In 1933, Germany enacted the “Enabling Act” which delegated most law-making powers to Chancellor Adolf Hitler. This was a mistake. Fortunately, Mike Dunleavy has little in common with Hitler and I personally trust him. Other states and cities may not be so fortunate.

    COVID 19 does not repeal either the US Constitution or the State Constitution. People cannot be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The limitations we have endured so far can only be temporary unless there a whole lot more due process. The Legislature must wake up and perform their Constitutional obligations.

    • J,
      God help us if this “legislature” sets policy, of any kind. The Governor’s job, like the President’s, is to set policy, not the ‘”legislature”. The “legislature” and senate is obligated to oblige, accept and promote those policies, especially when they have none better or as good, not set their own. This is not 1933 Germany and our Governor/President is not Hitler (BTW, Hitler’s political party was NSDP, or National Socialist Democrat Party. Sound familiar?) Comparison is foolish and demeaning. Leftists have an unconscionable hold on much of America and most of Alaska, currently. Our first move should be to vote these imbeciles out. From there, common sense, fairness and acceptance of our elected gov’t and rightfully enacted laws should be the political goal. There are many ways for those that refuse to agree to forward their opinions. Not what is currently happening with the left refusing to legitimatize our elected officials. There are many isolated locations that the left could move to (Antarctica, for instance) and establish their own “utopia” at their own expense, not leech off everyone else.

    • To correct the record: Much of Chapter 10 SLA 2020 is repealed on November 15, 2020, or the Governor can declare it over before then, provided he sets forth sufficient evidence. Regardless, this is a long, long time to cede virtually unlimited power to the Executive. My point remains the same: We need to return to regular constitutional government as soon as possible.

  • The Legislature is awake and doing exactly what they want to do!

  • Would it be rude to suggest, kindly of course, that municipalities which are members of the $650M Alaska Municipal League, whose stated purpose is “strengthening local governments” wait until hell freezes over, or perhaps longer?
    As for small businesses, if you’re not mentioned in Alaska’s Lobbyist Directory as having bought or leased a legislator, your prospects seem dim, but it was nice knowing you.

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