James Brooks

James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected]

The front of the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau is seen on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.

Alaska Gov. Dunleavy signs bill granting free fur-trapping licenses to disabled veterans

By: - May 26, 2023

Ahead of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has signed legislation that allows disabled military veterans to receive a free fur-trapping license. Senate Bill 10, by Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, is intended to fix a gap in state law, Kiehl said. Disabled veterans were eligible for free hunting and sportfishing licenses, but they […]

Research biologists pause among the wetlands of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, with the Brooks Range in the background. During the short field research season, the biologists live and work in this remote camp at the edge of the continent. (Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS)

Alaska has more than half of America’s wetlands. A new ruling could change how they’re managed

By: - May 25, 2023

A new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court likely exempts large areas of wetlands in Alaska from federal regulation under the Clean Water Act, a decision that has alarmed environmentalists and could speed road construction, mining and other development projects here. The decision, in a case known as Sackett v. EPA, means that the Environmental […]

The U.S. Capitol Building is seen on Oct. 22, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

What happens in Alaska if the United States defaults on its debt next month?

By: - May 25, 2023

As soon as June 1, Alaskans may go without Social Security checks, food-stamp payments and even their basic paychecks unless members of Congress agree to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. The consequences of America’s first modern debt default aren’t fully known, but the details are slowly becoming apparent, and Alaska is likely to be particularly […]

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, signs Senate Bill 48, allowing the state to use state land from carbon credits, at the Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference on May 23, 2023, in Anchorage, Alaska. Behind him, from left, are Rep. Alyse Galvin, I-Anchorage; U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk; Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom; Alaska Revenue Commissioner Adam Crum, partially obscured; Rep. Jesse Sumner, R-Wasilla; Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok; Rep. Kevin McCabe, R-Big Lake; Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner John Boyle; Rep. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage; Rep. George Rauscher, R-Palmer; House Speaker Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla; Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski; Sen. Cathy Tilton, R-Anchorage; and Rep. Genevieve Mina, D-Anchorage. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska Gov. Dunleavy signs bill allowing state land to be used for carbon-offset credits

By: - May 24, 2023

Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Tuesday signed new legislation that allows the state of Alaska to use state land for carbon credits, purchased by companies to offset the greenhouse gases they emit. Senate Bill 48, drafted by Dunleavy’s office and modified by the Alaska Legislature, passed through the Capitol with bipartisan support this spring; only Republican […]

Rep. Josiah Patkotak, I-Utqiagvik, demonstrates the fur hood of his coat while serving as speaker pro tempore of the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, at the Alaska Capitol in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

America’s farthest-north state representative is planning to leave the Alaska Capitol

By: - May 23, 2023

Independent Rep. Josiah Patkotak of Utqiagvik is running to become the next mayor of the North Slope Borough and said he’s prepared to resign his seat in the Alaska Legislature if he wins the October municipal election. Paktotak’s decision was made public via a Monday filing with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. The municipal election […]

The front of the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau is seen on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.

Provision of Alaska budget bill would boost 2024 dividend, depending on oil price

By: - May 23, 2023

A section of Alaska’s newly passed state budget could turn into a windfall for state residents. Called a “waterfall provision” by legislators, it calls for a payment of up to $500 for eligible residents in 2024 on top of the year’s Permanent Fund dividend. Inserted by members of the Senate Finance Committee and modified at […]

Alaska House approves state budget, Legislature adjourns special session after one day

By: - May 18, 2023

The Alaska Legislature has adjourned for the spring after approving a $6.2 billion state budget less than 24 hours into a special session called by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Legislators failed to finish the budget during the state’s 121-day regular session, but after an all-day session of negotiations behind closed doors, the leaders of the House […]

Speaker of the House Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, talks to fellow members of the Alaska House shortly before adjournment on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska House adjourns legislative session without budget vote; special session to begin

By: - May 17, 2023

The Alaska House of Representatives failed to vote on the state’s budget bill Wednesday night and abruptly ended the state’s regular legislative session Wednesday night, defying a “take-it-or-leave-it” offer from the Alaska Senate. The failure to pass a budget, the Legislature’s central constitutional duty, caused Gov. Mike Dunleavy to order a 30-day special session beginning […]

Alaska’s legislators and top executive-branch officials will receive pay increases by 2024

By: - May 17, 2023

Alaska legislators, Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom and the commissioners in charge of state agencies will see pay raises after the Legislature missed the final deadline for a bill needed to block the increases. Starting July 1, Alaska’s governor will be paid approximately $176,000 per year, the lieutenant governor about $140,000, and commissioners […]

Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, listens to Senate Rules Committee Chair Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, and Senate Majority Leader Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, during a Tuesday, May 16, 2023, session of the Alaska Senate. At right is Senate Secretary Liz Clark. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

No budget deal yet as Alaska Legislature prepares for the end of its regular session

By: - May 16, 2023

The Alaska Senate ended the penultimate regular day of the state’s legislative session without advancing work on the operating budget needed to avoid a government shutdown on July 1. Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, said the session may end on Wednesday without a vote on the Senate’s proposed $6.2 billion “take-it-or-leave-it” budget.  The Senate will […]

Alaska Legislature continues on track for last-day vote on the state budget

By: - May 15, 2023

The Alaska Senate made no significant changes on Monday to a $6.2 billion proposed state budget for the coming year, and the Legislature remains on schedule for the Senate to present the state House with a final “take it or leave it” proposal on Wednesday, the final day of the regular legislative session.  If House […]

Filipino Americans in Alaska have included Larry Itliong, a national labor leader who organized Alaska cannery workers; Alaska Rep. Thelma Buchholdt, the first U.S. Filipino American legislator; and current Rep. Genevieve Mina, who sponsored a bill to establish October as Filipino American History Month in Alaska. (Itliong photo courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University; Buchholdt photo from Alaska Blue Book (Third edition), Alaska Department of Education, Division of State Libraries; Mina photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Legislature votes to honor Filipino Americans in Alaska

By: - May 15, 2023

October will be Filipino American History Month in Alaska if Gov. Mike Dunleavy approves a bill that passed the state Senate unanimously on Friday. House Bill 23, from Rep. Genevieve Mina, D-Anchorage, is largely ceremonial — it does not declare an official holiday or require schools to teach lessons on Filipino American history — but […]