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]

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 […]

A man stands next to an electric bike

Alaska Legislature votes to deregulate e-bikes

By: - May 8, 2023

Low-power electric bicycles would be exempted from regulation under a bill passed by the Alaska Legislature. The state Senate approved House Bill 8 by an 18-1 vote Monday; the House previously voted 39-1 to approve the bill on April 17. The bill now returns to the House for a procedural vote; the bill’s sponsor, Rep. […]

Alaska House and Senate leaders say they don’t have a final budget solution yet

By: - May 6, 2023

With a week and a half remaining in Alaska’s regular legislative session, leading lawmakers say they still haven’t reached agreement on a deal to finish the state budget and end the session on time. “We are meeting daily with the Senate … just working on finding some way to come together to put this kind […]

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is seen on Sept. 19 in Fairbanks. This portion of the pipeline, 450 miles south of Prudhoe Bay, has been transformed into a visitor pullout and is a tourist attraction. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

State-owned corporation asks for $5.6 million to keep Alaska gas pipeline quest alive

By: - May 5, 2023

Alaska’s quest to build a gas pipeline from the North Slope to its southern shore needs additional cash from the state treasury, the president of the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corp. said this week. In a pair of hearings at the state Capitol, corporation President Frank Richards asked state lawmakers for $3.1 million in funding. […]

Alaska Senate approves ‘textbook’ consumer protection law affecting UA students

By: - May 5, 2023

Under legislation newly approved by the Alaska Senate, the University of Alaska will be required to warn students if a class requires expensive textbooks. Senate Bill 13 passed the Senate on a 19-1 vote and now advances to the House for consideration. Sen. Robert Myers, R-North Pole and the bill’s sponsor, punningly called it “a […]

With public testimony phone lines clogged, Alaska legislators consider different options

By: - May 4, 2023

The Alaska Legislature is changing some procedures after Capitol phone lines became overloaded by public testimony for a record fifth time this year.  The Capitol’s phones reached capacity on Tuesday, during a hearing about a bill that intends to repeal the state’s new ranked choice voting law. The phone lines have filled more times this […]

Alaska House votes to keep shooting ranges open during most disasters

By: - May 4, 2023

The Alaska House of Representatives has approved a bill that allows gun stores and shooting ranges to stay open during most state-declared disaster emergencies. If approved by the state Senate and Gov. Mike Dunleavy, House Bill 61 would forbid government-declared disaster declarations from limiting the sale or transfer of firearms during a disaster unless “all […]

Alaska Legislature passes bills boosting mothers’ health care and renewable energy fund

By: - May 3, 2023

Thousands of new mothers will receive extended Medicaid coverage under legislation proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy and passed by the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday. The Alaska House of Representatives voted 35-3 to approve Senate Bill 58, which now returns to the Senate for a procedural vote before being sent to Dunleavy’s desk for final approval. […]

Heidi Hedberg, then-interim commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health, speaks at a news conference on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022, at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. She has since become the commissioner-designee. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska health department pledges to halve 10,000-person food-stamp backlog within six months

By: - May 3, 2023

After a lawsuit from Alaskans in need of food aid, the Alaska Department of Health has agreed to cut the waiting list for the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by half in six months. The action was among several conditions in an agreement announced Tuesday between the state and 10 plaintiffs who filed a class-action […]

Alaska pension bill, facing deep scrutiny, won’t advance this year, lawmakers say

By: - May 3, 2023

As public employees prepared to rally in front of the Alaska Capitol on Tuesday, demanding the reinstatement of a public pension system, leading members of the state Senate said their request was unlikely to be fulfilled this year. Members of the 17-member bipartisan Senate majority said at the start of this year’s legislative session that […]

Dunleavy administration wins billion-dollar revenue dispute against Alaska Legislature

By: - May 2, 2023

A billion-dollar financial issue flagged since 2018 by the Alaska Legislature’s auditor is not a problem, an Anchorage Superior Court judge ruled Friday. In a five-page decision, Judge Andrew Guidi said the state is not required to deposit the the money it received as a result of an oil pipeline tariff decision into the state’s […]

Alaska Senate approves new Permanent Fund dividend payout formula, but final action remains distant

By: - May 1, 2023

The Alaska Senate has approved a new formula for the annual Permanent Fund dividend, but the idea remains a long way from becoming reality. On Monday, the Senate voted 12-7 to approve Senate Bill 107, which calls for three-quarters of the annual transfer from the Alaska Permanent Fund to be reserved for services and the […]