Author

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]

Alaska legislators say abortion-related legislation is unlikely to advance in the Capitol this year

By: - January 5, 2023

Two weeks before the Alaska Legislature convenes in Juneau, members of the state House and Senate say they don’t expect much work this year on legislation involving controversial social issues like abortion and transgender rights. “I think it’s safe to say that the social issues along those lines probably will not get a lot of […]

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Monday, May 2, 2022, at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

No appeal to Alaska Supreme Court in disloyalty-clause case that confirmed Eastman’s eligibility

By: - January 3, 2023

The Alaska Supreme Court will not have a chance to rule on the case of a legislator accused of violating the state constitution’s disloyalty clause, clearing the way for him to take office. On Tuesday, Matanuska-Susitna Borough resident Randall Kowalke said he will not appeal a lower-court defeat to the state’s high court, citing the […]

University of Alaska will gain land under new federal budget law

By: - December 30, 2022

An obscure clause in the just-passed $1.7 trillion federal omnibus budget law has awarded the University of Alaska a plot of land half the size of the state of Rhode Island. The clause begins on page 2,819 of the 4,126-page law and calls for the university to receive 360,000 acres of federal land within the […]

Historic neighborhood, once envisioned for new Alaska Capitol, is given away by the state

By: - December 29, 2022

The State of Alaska is returning to the City and Borough of Juneau a multimillion-dollar plot of land once envisioned for a new Capitol building. On Tuesday, acting Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Vasilios Gialopsos signed an order transferring Telephone Hill, a historic residential area overlooking downtown Juneau, to the capital city. The transfer was […]

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge sprawls to the shoreline of the Beaufort Sea, seen here in 2006. Oil development has been proposed for the refuge's coastal plain. (Photo by Steve Hillebrand,/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Alaska development bank approves more spending as it seeks to open ANWR for drilling

By: - December 28, 2022

Alaska’s state-owned development bank is continuing its efforts to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Directors of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority voted unanimously this month to spend $6.2 million on a second year of legal fees, lease payments and pre-development work related to […]

The Alaska Department of Corrections advertises its $10,000 hiring bonus during a July Fourth parade in Juneau on July 4, 2022.

Alaska’s top-earning state employees include investment managers, troopers and two psychiatrists

By: - December 28, 2022

Alaska’s top-grossing public employee during the last fiscal year was a forensic psychiatrist for the state prison system, according to a report released after a public records request by the Alaska Beacon. Dwight Stallman received $415,500 in gross pay during fiscal year 2022, which ran from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. That was […]

Alaska Gov. Dunleavy announces new legislative director ahead of 2023 session

By: - December 27, 2022

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy named Laura Stidolph as his legislative director, his office says. Stidolph is set to take office Jan. 2. A Juneau resident, Stidolph will be the chief liaison between the executive branch and the legislative branch, and several returning legislators praised the choice, predicting she will be a good fit for the […]

This screenshot from the website of the Alaska Court System shows Representative-elect Jennie Armstrong testifying Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, during an evidentiary hearing. Armstrong is defending against a lawsuit that alleges she is ineligible to serve in the Alaska Legislature. (Screenshot)

Judge hears arguments challenging Anchorage Democrat’s legislative eligibility

By: - December 24, 2022

In an Anchorage courtroom on Thursday, Democratic Representative-elect Jennie Armstrong and her husband described a romantic trip to Chena Hot Springs and a tarot reading in May 2019 that convinced her to stay in Alaska. Facing a lawsuit that alleges she failed to live in Alaska long enough before running – and winning – an […]

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Monday, May 2, 2022, at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Oath Keepers seek to overthrow government, judge says, but First Amendment protects Eastman

By: - December 23, 2022

An Anchorage Superior Court Judge has ruled that Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman’s membership in the Oath Keepers does not violate the Alaska Constitution’s disloyalty clause because of First Amendment protections for free speech. The decision, which may be appealed, means Eastman may continue serving in the Alaska Legislature. Eastman was re-elected in November. In […]

The Assembly Building is seen on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022, in downtown Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska Legislature votes $6.6 million for legislative housing near Juneau Capitol building

By: - December 22, 2022

A House-Senate committee of the Alaska Legislature has approved spending $6.6 million to renovate a downtown Juneau office building into 33 apartments for legislators and staff. During a Monday vote on the proposal, lawmakers said the state-owned building will help alleviate a chronic shortage of housing in the capital city during the legislative session. “One […]

Alaska Legislature files ‘friendly’ lawsuit over billion-dollar accounting dispute

By: - December 21, 2022

The Alaska Legislature’s budget and audit committee sued Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state departments of revenue and natural resources on Wednesday, alleging that the executive branch has incorrectly handled the proceeds of a tax dispute since 2018. Success by the legislature could reduce the amount of revenue available for ordinary spending and add to […]

Eastman eligibility trial concludes after a week of testimony on Oath Keepers’ views

By: - December 21, 2022

The weeklong legislative eligibility trial of Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman ended Wednesday with attorneys delivering their closing remarks and Judge Jack McKenna pledging to deliver a verdict as soon as possible. Eastman and the Alaska Division of Elections were sued in July by Randall Kowalke, a Matanuska-Susitna Borough resident who claims that Eastman’s life […]