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]

Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, speaks on the floor of the Alaska Senate on Monday, May 2, 2022 at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. (James Brooks / Alaska Beacon)

Alaska Legislature votes to criminalize abusive 911 calls

By: - May 13, 2023

The Alaska Legislature has voted to criminalize the harassment of 911 dispatchers and threats against them. The Alaska House voted 37-1 on Thursday to approve Senate Bill 38, a measure previously passed 19-0 by the state Senate on March 17. Rep. Zack Fields, D-Anchorage, and Rep. Jamie Allard, R-Eagle River, were absent from the House […]

Legislature votes to repeal Alaska law including veterinarians in opioid monitoring

By: - May 12, 2023

The Alaska Legislature has reversed a seven-year-old law that requires veterinarians to participate in the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.  The state Senate voted 19-0 on Friday to approve the repeal measure, House Bill 56. The House previously voted 35-1 to approve the bill, which now returns to the chamber for a procedural vote before […]

To help a rural town, Alaska’s Legislature approves a path to scale back municipal power

By: - May 12, 2023

The Alaska Legislature is offering help to the Yukon River town of Tanana as it seeks to dissolve its local school district and join the larger Yukon-Koyukuk Rural Educational Attendance Area. The Alaska Senate voted 19-0 on Friday to approve House Bill 69, which allows cities with shrinking populations to more easily switch away from […]

Rep. Julie Coulombe, R-Anchorage, speaks on an amendment during committee debates over the draft state budget on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska Legislature seeks to drop one-year waiting period for commercial driver’s licenses

By: - May 12, 2023

Ukrainian refugees and others newly arrived in Alaska would have an easier way to get a commercial driver’s license under a bill passed by the Legislature. In a 40-0 vote on Friday, the Alaska House approved Senate Bill 123, which would repeal the requirement that someone hold an Alaska driver’s license for one year before […]

Sen. Bert Stedman speaks about the budget at a news conference on Thursday. Pictured with him are Senate President Gary Stevens and Sen. Bill Wielecowski. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska Senate prepares ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ budget in attempt to finish session on time

By: - May 12, 2023

In what is likely the Alaska Legislature’s final attempt to pass a state budget on time, members of the Senate Finance Committee crafted a budget “turducken” and called Thursday on the state House to prepare for a straight up-or-down vote on the proposal. In a brief meeting Thursday, committee members inserted the state’s annual capital […]

Alaska senators approve permanent increase to public school funding, with House support in question

By: - May 11, 2023

Alaska’s public schools will receive their largest-ever funding increase if the Alaska House and Gov. Mike Dunleavy agree with a bill passed Thursday by the state Senate. In a 16-3 vote on Thursday, the chamber approved Senate Bill 52, which permanently increases the state’s per-student funding formula, known as the base student allocation, by $175 […]

Alaska Senate approves new rules for subscription-style health care plan

By: - May 11, 2023

Alaskans would be able to more easily get subscription-style health care from their doctor or dentist if a bill passed by the Alaska Senate on Wednesday becomes law. The Senate voted 18-2 to approve Senate Bill 45 from Sen. David Wilson, R-Wasilla, sending the bill to the House for further consideration. The House Labor and […]

Alaska Legislature votes to repeal five defunct programs, including one left from the Exxon Valdez oil spill

By: - May 10, 2023

Several defunct state programs, including a fund established as a result of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, would be scrubbed from state law under a bill that passed the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday. The Alaska House of Representatives voted 40-0 to approve Senate Bill 25, authored by Sen. James Kaufman, R-Anchorage. The bill previously […]

Alaska Gov. Dunleavy reappoints Bethany Marcum to state redistricting board

By: - May 10, 2023

As the Alaska Redistricting Board prepares to consider whether to change the map used in last year’s state legislative elections, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has reappointed Alaska Policy Forum CEO Bethany Marcum to the board. Marcum, one of the board’s original five members, resigned from the board to take a seat on the University of Alaska […]

Alaska Federation of Natives membership ‘doesn’t feel as necessary,’ tribal president says

By: - May 9, 2023

The day after Alaska’s largest tribal organization announced that it will be leaving the Alaska Federation of Natives, President Richard Peterson of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska said he doesn’t see it as a divorce. Rather, Peterson said, Tlingit and Haida’s decision to leave Alaska’s largest Native organization […]

Alaska Legislature rejects governor’s pick for university board; all other nominees accepted

By: - May 9, 2023

The Alaska Legislature approved all but one of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s picks for state boards and commissions in a once-per-year joint session of the state House and Senate on Tuesday. The lone person who did not get the Legislature’s approval was Bethany Marcum, who had been nominated for a seat on the University of Alaska’s […]

Legislature approves bill to improve home care for seniors and Alaskans with disabilities

By: - May 8, 2023

Seniors and people with disabilities who need extra care would be able to get help at home under a bill passed by the Alaska Legislature. The state House voted 39-1 to approve Senate Bill 57 on Monday, following 17-0 approval by the Senate on April 24.  “One of the hallmarks of a society is the […]