JUNEAU – Today, the governor’s House Bill 76, extending the public health emergency in response to COVID-19, passed the House Finance Committee on a 6-5 vote.
The extension will afford the State of Alaska numerous tools lost when the previous declaration expired February 14, including the loss of off-site testing and vaccination, and waivers to care for patients telephonically. It will also ensure Alaska receives the roughly $8 million a month in federal SNAP benefits available.
Speaker Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) said, “Simply put, this bill will provide critical tools needed to help end the pandemic. While there has been an active disinformation campaign about what this bill does, the measures it contains are not at all controversial. We will not allow opportunist politics to get in the way of good policy.”
“HB 76 will help keep our restaurants, bars, and businesses open and restore Alaskans’ confidence that we are taking significant steps toward resuming life as normal,” added Rep. Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks).
“Extending the disaster declaration will not require mask mandates, business and school closures, or hunker down orders. Instead, it will help accelerate the recovery phase faster by injecting federal dollars into the state and preventing outbreaks by facilitating more efficient vaccine distribution,” said Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan).
HB 76 will now go to the floor for a vote of the House of Representatives.
Alaska House Coalition