ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE
JOINT PRESS RELEASE
Prompt action needed as disaster declaration set to expire, COVID-19 cases rapidly increasing
ANCHORAGE – Leaders of the Alaska Legislature today held a telephonic meeting with Gov. Mike Dunleavy to discuss the extension of the emergency disaster declaration enacted by the state in March in response to COVID-19.
Without action by policymakers, the declaration will expire on November 15, potentially impacting the State’s ability to receive future federal disaster funds as well as the authority of hospitals to practice telemedicine, conduct off-site testing, and operate alternate care centers for people infected with COVID-19. Every state in the country has a current disaster declaration due to the pandemic.
Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham), Senate President Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage), and Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich (D-Anchorage) all participated in today’s meeting with the governor and released the following joint statement:
“Communities across Alaska are experiencing alarming rates of COVID-19 transmission. As policymakers, we are eager to work together to reverse this trend and provide certainty to hospitals, businesses, municipalities, and all Alaskans. One key step we need to take for that happen is to extend the emergency declaration.
We are encouraged by our conversation with the governor today, and are fully committed to holding a special session that is narrow in scope yet sufficient to give our healthcare team what they need to confront the pandemic.
Convening the Legislature and promptly passing a bill gives the disaster declaration strong legal standing and lets the State focus on the ongoing public health and economic emergency.”
Rep. Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage), House Minority Leader, also participated in today’s meeting.
ATTACHMENT: A September 29 memorandum from the nonpartisan Legislative Legal Division stating that a decision by the governor to issue a second disaster declaration without legislative action likely violates Alaska law.