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Legislature swiftly approves CARES Act funding
On Tuesday the Alaska House convened in Juneau and swiftly approved the release of emergency federal CARES Act funding through the passage of House Bill 313.
The Legislative Budget and Audit Committee had originally used emergency powers to accept and distribute the emergency funding. However, there were serious constitutional concerns about the committee’s authority to issue a blanket approval of all of these funds. In an effort to head off a sudden lawsuit which could have held up the funds indefinitely, members of the Alaska House returned to Juneau and specifically authorized the Administration to distribute the money as quickly as possible.
HB 313 CARES Act funding details:
Lessons from North and South Dakota
Yesterday the Governor announced that on Friday, May 22, Alaska would enter Phase 3 of reopening the state. This will include lifting all state restrictions on private businesses such as shops and restaurants.
I hope Alaskans will continue to be extra careful and continue to practice social distancing and use face coverings when in public. We need only look to the examples of North Dakota and South Dakota to understand the consequences of letting our guard down.
While Alaska was quick to issue a “hunker down” order and has had relatively low numbers of coronavirus cases, North and South Dakota, states with similar populations to Alaska, did not.
To date Alaska has 400 reported COVID-19 cases with 10 deaths, the lowest numbers, and the flattest curve in the U.S. Whereas North Dakota has 2,000 cases with 45 deaths and South Dakota has 4,000 cases with 46 deaths. What we are doing in Alaska is working, so let’s not let our guard down yet!
COVID-19 Alaska Help Line
Alaskans who need help or connection to information about services, including those related to COVID-19 impacts, can dial 2-1-1 from their phones. You can also reach out via email to Alaska211@ak.org or dial 1-800-478.2221.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns.