Alaska child care providers say funds approved by Legislature are crucial to staying open
By: Claire Stremple - May 27, 2023
The Legislature put an additional $7.5 million towards grants for child care providers in this year’s budget. The funding is half the amount advocates say it would take to boost wages and stabilize the industry. Some lawmakers say they have more work to do.
A bill to get nurses licensed more quickly in Alaska faces pushback from unions
By: Claire Stremple - May 26, 2023
Alaska’s nurse shortage is widely acknowledged, but there’s less consensus on how to manage solutions. A bill that aims to get nurses licensed and working faster by joining Alaska in a 40-state nurse licensure coalition is mired in pushback. Hospitals and the state’s nursing board support the legislation, but nursing labor unions oppose it.
Department of Education names Alaska’s 2024 Teacher of the Year
By: Claire Stremple - May 22, 2023
Catherine Walker planned to be a surgeon. She took pre-med classes, interned with a surgeon and was an EMT in college. But after two years teaching in the Peace Corps in Mali, she was hooked. Now, nearly two decades later, the Anchorage science teacher is Alaska’s 2024 Teacher of the Year.
Alaska Legislature fails to pass election reform this year
By: Claire Stremple - May 19, 2023
Alaska legislators say that election reform is a top priority, but changes to state policies failed to pass this year. That’s despite compromise and consensus between lawmakers from both parties on an issue that’s known for dividing them.
Alaska Senate passes major one-time education funding increase
By: Claire Stremple - May 18, 2023
The Alaska Senate passed what lawmakers described as the largest one-time education funding increase in state history on Wednesday night. It will cost the state roughly $175 million in a $6.1 billion budget.
Alaska Legislature unlikely to pass major education policy changes in session
By: Claire Stremple - May 17, 2023
A bill to increase broadband access in rural schools and a major school funding bill were combined in the final days of the session, likely leaving neither in a position to pass.
Legislature votes to allow Alaska prisons to issue state IDs
By: Claire Stremple - May 16, 2023
The state’s prison system could soon issue state IDs to prisoners who don’t have one. A newly passed bill is intended to ease prisoners’ reentry into society after incarceration. The House passed Senate Bill 119 on Saturday with a unanimous vote. The Senate passed it last week. Valid ID is required for everything from getting […]
Alaska food banks still ‘inundated’ as state works to fix food stamp backlog
By: Claire Stremple - April 29, 2023
Southeast Alaska Food Bank patrons have doubled since last November. Director Chris Schapp said demand continues as high as it’s ever been. A major driver has been the months-long backlog for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps, in the Division of Public Assistance. “We’ve just been inundated with people needing help,” he […]
Bill setting rules for ‘forever chemicals’ advances in Alaska’s Legislature
By: Claire Stremple - April 27, 2023
There are hundreds of “PFAS sites” in Alaska—places where the state has documented contamination from a group of chemicals linked to ill health effects like cancer and high cholesterol. They’re called “forever chemicals” because they accumulate in human bodies and don’t break down in the environment. Many of the sites are at and around state-owned […]
Alaska requires change to bar trans girls from girls teams, school sports head says
By: Claire Stremple - April 26, 2023
At the direction of the state’s governor-appointed board of education, the state’s high school sports association is poised to change its bylaws to exclude transgender girls from girls’ sports teams next week. But some state lawmakers and legal observers say the board is overstepping its authority. The change would divide contact sports into divisions based […]
Months-long backlog for Alaska’s aid programs triggers second lawsuit
By: Claire Stremple - April 20, 2023
An Anchorage resident filed a class action lawsuit this week seeking to force the state Division of Public Assistance to get cash assistance to vulnerable Alaskans in a timely manner.
Alaska communities scramble to keep unhoused people sheltered
By: Claire Stremple - April 20, 2023
At 10:30 p.m. on a misty Thursday night, dozens of people streamed into the basement of Resurrection Lutheran Church in downtown Juneau for a late dinner and a place to sleep. The temperature hovered around freezing. This is an emergency “warming shelter,” a seasonal, stopgap solution to keep the city’s unhoused population from freezing to […]