Rep. Chris Tuck

Rep. Chris Tuck
Chris Tuck

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April 3, 2020

Legislative Update – Friday, April 3


The Alaska Legislature wrapped up its work last Sunday, and most lawmakers quickly flew home. I’m anxious to get home myself, but I needed to stay in Juneau and help wrap up a challenging legislative session cut short by the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Alaska.

I’m thankful that we were able to finish the session before anyone in the legislature tested positive for COVID-19. However, in my view, the Alaska Legislature came up short in providing the immediate relief many of you need as you struggle to provide for yourself and your family during this challenging time in our state’s history.

The kind of immediate relief I supported was the emergency $1,000 supplemental PFD that was, at one point, in the budget bill. However, politics won out, and the emergency PFD was removed from the budget bill. In my opinion, this was a mistake because putting cash into the pockets of Alaskans would have been the easiest and best way to provide immediate help. I will continue to advocate for the payment of an emergency PFD as soon as possible, and I will fly back to Juneau on a moment’s notice to cast such a vote.

I am flying back to Anchorage tonight, and I will immediately go into a fourteen-day quarantine to protect my family and friends. I’m going to have some time on my hands, so please reach out to me with your thoughts, issues, ideas, and concerns. Email me at

Please be safe,

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COVID-19 Update – Friday, April 3


The number of COVID-19 cases in Alaska is 157.

·      A total of 11 new cases.

6,016 COVID-19 tests have been taken in Alaska.

·      The cumulative number of cases hospitalized to date: 15

·      Cumulative number of deaths to date: 3

·      On Thursday, the first case at Fort Greely in Delta Junction was confirmed.

·       The State of Alaska has launched the AK COVID-19 Dashboard.

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1,097,909 COVID-19 cases. 

59,131 deaths. 

225,942 recovered.

  • The coronavirus has been detected in 205 countries and territories.
  • The State Department issued level 4 travel advisories for every country in the world. (Level 4 is the highest alert level possible)


United States

Over 276,995 cases in the U.S. with 7,392 deaths.

The mortality rate in the U.S. is 2.4%.

  • 18.9% of the tests taken in the U.S. come back positive.
  • Up to 25% of those infected with COVID-19 show no symptoms.

A national emergency was declared on March 13.

  • Nearly 3 out of every 4 Americans are under some form of “shelter in place” order.
  • The federal government’s guidelines for social distancing are extended until April 30.


New Information

RavnAir is Cutting Back

RavnAir is cutting service by 90%.

  • The company is Alaska’s largest rural air carrier serving over 115 communities.
  • The company will only fly 3 of its 30 planes.
  • The move will impact the ability for many communities to get mail and supplies.
  • RavnAir is discontinuing flights between Unalaska and Anchorage.

RavnAir will only serve the communities of Kenai, Homer, Valdez, King Salmon, Dillingham, St. Paul, Bethel, Aniak, St. Mary’s, McGrath, and Unalakleet.

The company plans to apply for financial support from the federal government through the CARES Act.

The air cargo company Ryan Air has agreed to fly essential passengers, freight, and mail to North Slope communities left without service.


Restaurants and Bars Will Remain Closed

Gov. Dunleavy extended the closure of bars and restaurants indefinitely.

The state has also extended the closure of all:

  • Theaters.
  • Gyms.
  • Fitness centers.
  • Bowling alleys.
  • Bingo halls.


Unprecedented Jump in Unemployment

13,774 Alaskans filed for unemployment for the week ending Saturday, March 21.

  • 11,173 continued unemployment claims.
  • The previous high was 4,901 claims in January 2010. (During the Great Recession)
  • Alaska’s shutdown began on Monday, March 16.
  • Alaskans are asked to file online.

Over 6.65 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 28.

  • 3.3 million people applied for unemployment benefits the week before.
  • 10 million layoffs in the past few weeks.
  • 8.7 million jobs were lost during the Great Recession.
  • Some economists are envisioning up to 20 million lost jobs by the end of April.

The federal stimulus package, the CARES Act, includes a 13-week extension in unemployment benefits.

·      Unemployed Alaskans would receive an additional $600 per week above the state unemployment rate for 4 months.

·      Unemployed Alaskans could receive an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits on top of the state maximum of 26 weeks.

·      The bill provides for 39 weeks of unemployment benefits for Alaskans not eligible for benefits. (Self-employed)

·      Includes furloughed employees, gig workers, and freelancers.

The State of Alaska has expanded unemployment benefits for Alaskans impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

·      The normal 1 week waiting period and the requirement that those affected be ready and able to work has been waived.

·      Cap on the number of dependents has been waived.

·      The allowance for dependents has been increased from $24 to $75 per dependent per week.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development is anticipating a continued increase in the number of people filing for unemployment benefits.

·      Due to the anticipated increase in claims, the department is asking for people first to file a claim online.

·      Once on the homepage, click on “Unemployment Insurance Benefits.”

·      For assistance you can call toll-free 1-888-252-2557. In Anchorage call (907) 269-4700. In Fairbanks call (907) 451-2871. In Juneau call (907) 465-5552.

·      Unemployment assistance is available for anyone who is “unemployed through no fault of their own.”


Fees and Fines Suspended

On Tuesday, Governor Dunleavy signed an order suspending many fees and fines imposed by state government.

  • Fees will be deferred through May 11.
  • Driver license renewal fees are suspended.
  • Boat and vehicle registration fees are suspended.
  • Business license fees and professional license fees are deferred.


Help for Alaska Businesses

AIDEA’s “Sustaining Alaska’s Future Economy Guaranty Program” is up and running.

  • Businesses with existing loans or lines of credit with any lending institution in Alaska can apply for a loan increase up to $1 million.
  • The loans are guaranteed by the State of Alaska.


PFD Filing Deadline Moved

The deadline to file for a 2020 PFD has been pushed back to April 30.

·      The normal deadline is March 31.

·      File online at


Detailed Issues

Federal COVID-19 Legislation

To date, 3 major pieces of legislation have been passed and signed into law.

On March 5, an $8.3 billion emergency funding package passed.

The $105 billion Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18.

  • The act mandates paid sick and family leave from April 1 to December 31.
  • 2 weeks of emergency paid sick leave.
  • Paid family sick leave of 2/3 pay up to $200 per day. ($2,000 total)
  • 10 weeks of emergency family and medical leave.
  • 2/3 pay up to 10 weeks.
  • Does not apply to employers with fewer than 25 employees.
  • Refundable payroll tax credit to prevent companies from laying off worker.

The $2 trillion CARES Act was signed into law on March 27. (Largest stimulus package in U.S. history)

  • Alaska will receive $1.25 billion from the stimulus package.
  • Puts in place a foreclosure moratorium on federally backed mortgages for people who experience hardship as a result of COVID-19.
  • Provides relief to people with federal student loans. Payments and interest can be deferred for 6 months.
  • $9 billion for child nutrition program.
  • Defers the deadline to file federal taxes until July 15.

$1,200 in direct payments to taxpayers who have an income of up to $75,000 a year.

·      $2,400 for a married couple making up to $150,000 a year.

·      An additional $500 per child 16 or under.

·      Those that make up to $99,000 a year can receive a partial payment.

·      A family with 2 children with an income over $218,000 would not receive any stimulus payment.

·      Total cost is $250 billion.

·      The payment should arrive within 3 weeks.

13-week extension in unemployment benefits.

·      Unemployed Alaskans would receive an additional $600 per week above the state unemployment rate for 4 months.

·      Unemployed Alaskans could receive an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits on top of the state maximum of 26 weeks.

·      The bill provides for 39 weeks of unemployment benefits for Alaskans not eligible for benefits. (Self-employed)

·      Includes furloughed employees, gig workers, and freelancers.

$349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program.

  • The program will help small businesses make it through the COVID-19 outbreak and keep employees on the payroll.
  • Loans are available through June 30. (100% federally guaranteed)
  • Employers will have their loans forgiven if they maintain employment for 8 weeks after the start of the loan. (Rehire employees by June 30)
  • Job retention loans are available to cover 8 weeks of payroll.
  • The program is run by the Small Business Administration.
  • The loans can be applied for at most banks and credit unions.
  • All loan payments will be deferred for 6 months.
  • The loan program is retroactive to February 14 to allow employers to rehire laid-off employees.
  • Small businesses are defined as those that employ fewer than 500 people. (Includes 501(c)3 and religious organizations)
  • More information available at

Creates a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for state, local and tribal governments. (Alaska will get $1.2 billion)

$30 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and institutions of higher education for costs related to the coronavirus.

An additional $4.3 billion, thorough the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to support federal, state and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.

$400 million in election security grants to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus in the 2020 federal election cycle.

·      States must provide an accounting to the Election Assistance Commission of how the funds were spent within 20 days of any 2020 election.


Travel Restrictions

All visitors to Alaska are required to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Travelers are required to sign a form with their contact information and the address where they will self-quarantine.
  • Violators are subject to a $25,000 fine or jail time.
  • The order goes into effect on Wednesday, March 25.


Schools Closed

Governor Dunleavy ordered all schools closed through May 1.

  • The health mandate notes that students will receive instruction through distance delivery methods.
  • All after school activities are suspended.
  • It’s estimated that 50 million students nationwide have been impacted by school closures.

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development have launched a website with online learning resources.

The Alaska Statewide Virtual School project is being rolled out.

  • It’s a new distance learning program.
  • It was developed in cooperation with the Florida Virtual School, which was created in 1997.
  • Florida Virtual School operates as a school district in Florida.
  • 1-year contract at $525,000.

Feeding children.

  • Currently there are 253 food distribution sites and meal delivery routes across Alaska.
  • 5 Head Start and afterschool programs have set up an additional 20 food distribution sites.
  • Alaska is also participating in a USDA pilot project that allows meals to be mailed directly to families.


Anchorage Response

Anchorage officials are asking for donations of protective equipment.

Needed Equipment.

  • Non-contact medical grade thermometers.
  • Nitrile exam gloves. (NO LATEX GLOVES)
  • N95 masks.
  • Surgical masks.
  • Medical gowns.
  • Face shields.

Donations accepted at CrossFit Alaska, 9191 Old Seward Highway, Anchorage.

  • Hours of donation: 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM 7 days a week.

The Alaska Airlines Center will be used as a medical alternate care site for COVID-19 patients if the hospitals get overwhelmed. (150 beds)

  • The temporary facility can house patients in stable condition who need observation and basic support.
  • The overflow site is supported by Providence Alaska Medical Center, the Alaska Native Medical Center, and the Alaska Regional Hospital.

A medical alternate care site at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. The site was set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The space set up in the Alaska Airlines Center to accommodate COVID-19 patients in stable condition.


The Ben Boeke Ice Arenas has been turned into a temporary shelter for the homeless. (The shelter is being overseen by Bean’s Café)

The emergency “hunker down” order has been extended through April 14.

·      All municipal employees have been ordered to work from home if they can. 

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says utility shutoffs will be suspended for Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility and Municipal Light and Power.

·      Anchorage residents are advised to continue paying utility bills.

Mayor Berkowitz signed an emergency order temporarily suspending enforcement of the paper bag fee of 10 cents.

The Municipality of Anchorage has moved its COVID-19 emergency operations center to the 3rd floor of the Loussac Library.

Visit for updated information about the Municipality’s actions regarding COVID-19.


Anchorage Municipal Election

Election Day in Anchorage is Tuesday, April 7.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Municipal Clerk is extending the deadline to issue replacement ballots or ballots to be mailed to a temporary address.

  • The new deadline is today at 5 p.m.
  • Replacement ballots can be obtained at the vote center at Anchorage City Hall.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Municipality of Anchorage has closed all but 1 of the vote centers.

Closed vote centers.

·      Muldoon Mall

·      O’Malley’s on the Green

·      MOA Election Center

·      Loussac Library (location is closed by Emergency Order through March 31), and

·      Eagle River Town Center (location is closed by Emergency Order through March 31). 

The vote center at the Anchorage City Hall is open.

·      Monday-Friday, March 30–April 6, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

·      Tuesday, April 7, 7 a.m.–8 p.m.

Anchorage residents are encouraged to vote at home as soon as possible.

Voters are encouraged to return ballots in one of the 18 secure drop boxes in Anchorage.

Call the voter hotline at (907) 243-8683 between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. if you need a replacement ballot or didn’t receive a ballot.


Small Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration is mobilizing to help small businesses across the country.

The $2 trillion stimulus package called the CARES Act included $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program.

  • Small businesses can apply for small business job retention loans to provide eight weeks of payroll to keep workers employed.
  • The program should be up and running by Friday, April 3.
  • Most banks and credit unions can handle the loan applications, which can be approved on the same day.
  • The loans are available without collateral requirements and payment swill be deferred for 6 months.
  • The SBA “will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first eight weeks of payroll costs, rent, utilities, and mortgage interest.”

Visit for more information on the Paycheck Protection Program.

The Small Business Debt Relief Program provides immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans.

  • The SBA will cover all loan payments on the loans for 6 months.

Emergency Economic Injury Grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits that apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans

  • The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstances.

Small businesses can earn a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • The credits are available to businesses whose operations have been fully or partially suspended due to government orders.
  • The credits are not available to those receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans.

·      The loans are available to small businesses and non-profit organizations.

·       Loans can be up to $2 million to over obligations and expenses, “which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.” (Fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills)

·      The interest rate for small businesses is 3.75%.  The interest rate for non-profit organizations is 2.75%.

·      The loan term can be up to 30 years.

·      The deadline to apply is December 21, 2020.

Apply online at or call 1-800-659-2955.

I’m here for you, so please keep in touch on matters important to you and your family!

Be safe,

[signed] Chris Tuck
      Chris Tuck
      Alaska State Representative
      District 23 - Anchorage


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