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. Dan Sullivan asks Alaska Legislature to rally in defense of Arctic oil project

By: - February 7, 2023

In his annual address to the Alaska Legislature, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan called on the Legislature and ordinary Alaskans to speak in defense of the Willow project, a long-planned oil development awaiting federal permission on the North Slope. “The battle is going to be ferocious over the next 30 days until the record is finalized,” […]

Alaska’s governor, lieutenant governor and top officials are in line for a pay increase

By: - February 7, 2023

Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom and the commissioners of the state’s cabinet-level agencies will automatically receive inflation-driven raises in July unless the Alaska Legislature passes legislation by March 25 to block the increase. The State Officers Compensation Commission, which sets the pay of the governor, lieutenant governor, department heads and the Legislature, has […]

Alaska Gov. Dunleavy proposes extending Medicaid coverage for new mothers

By: - February 4, 2023

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed extending Medicaid coverage for new mothers from 60 days to 360 days by introducing a bill that fulfills a pledge he made during last month’s State of the State address. Announcing the bill with a written statement on Friday, the governor’s office said mental health care for new mothers is […]

Alaska legislative committee considers waiving local sales taxes on gold, silver coins

By: - February 3, 2023

A new bill proposed by a Big Lake Republican would exempt gold-backed currencies and gold and silver coins from local sales taxes in order to encourage their use as currency, not just collectibles. Rep. Kevin McCabe, R-Big Lake, told the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday that the bill was inspired by a constituent who […]

Alaska public defender shortage will grow worse without action, budget documents indicate

By: - February 3, 2023

Alaska’s shortage of public defenders, which is already delaying criminal cases in rural Alaska, will likely grow worse because of a new law, budget documents indicate. The shortage, first reported in depth by the Anchorage Daily News on Thursday, has already caused public defenders to begin refusing cases in Nome and Bethel. “The public defenders […]

Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau, Alaska. (James Brooks / Alaska Beacon)

House committee advances pension bill intended to benefit Alaska police, firefighters

By: - February 2, 2023

The Alaska House Committee on Community and Regional Affairs has approved a bill that would create a state pension program for police and firefighters. The committee voted 4-2 on Thursday morning to advance the bill, House Bill 22, to the House State Affairs Committee, the second of four committees slated to hear the bill. Assigning […]

A natural gas flare from an offshore oil drilling rig is seen in Cook Inlet in an undated photo. (Photo by Paul Souders/Getty Images)

Gov. Dunleavy says Alaska doesn’t flare its natural gas. It does.

By: - February 2, 2023

During last week’s State of the State address, Gov. Mike Dunleavy incorrectly said that Alaska’s oil and gas producers are banned from releasing gas into the atmosphere and burning it, a process known as flaring. “We don’t flare our gas, and never have, and we don’t have to be told not to by the federal […]

Retiring from the high court, Alaska’s chief justice defends its system of selecting judges

By: - February 1, 2023

In his final speech before retirement, Alaska Chief Justice Daniel Winfree firmly defended the state’s merit-based process for picking judges on Wednesday, telling the state’s 60 legislators that he is aware that some of them don’t want apolitical judges, but he believes it’s an important principle to keep. “With apologies to Led Zeppelin and ‘Stairway […]

Alaska labor commissioner unexpectedly resigns for undisclosed reasons

By: - January 31, 2023

The head of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development unexpectedly resigned Tuesday, causing Gov. Mike Dunleavy to name Deputy Commissioner Cathy Muñoz the agency’s acting boss. Commissioner Tamika Ledbetter’s resignation was announced in an email from the governor’s office Tuesday afternoon, and state legislators — including the chairs of the Senate and House […]

From left to right: Sens. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage; Matt Claman, D-Anchorage; and Scott Kawasaki, D-Fairbanks, listen on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, to a prediction that Southcentral Alaska could run out of available natural gas by the end of the decade. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Cook Inlet may face gas shortage by decade’s end, state officials estimate

By: - January 31, 2023

Southcentral Alaska may run out of available natural gas by the end of the decade, according to a new analysis conducted by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. The analysis, presented Monday in a hearing of the Senate Resources Committee, is the most detailed look so far at the possibility that Anchorage and surrounding areas […]

Anchorage senator proposes new spending cap, key piece of Alaska fiscal plan

By: - January 31, 2023

A Republican state senator from Anchorage is proposing major changes to Alaska’s state spending cap, in the first step toward a long-term plan to balance the state’s budget that multiple legislators say is a priority. The proposal from Sen. James Kaufman, R-Anchorage, received its first hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, where it […]

Former lieutenant governor candidate Drygas is new head of Alaska’s largest public union

By: - January 30, 2023

Alaska’s largest public employee union announced on Monday that Heidi Drygas, a losing candidate in last year’s lieutenant governor election, will be its new head starting Feb. 8. Of the state’s 14,000 public employees, about 8,000 are represented by the Alaska State Employees Association, which Drygas will serve as executive director. She replaces Jake Metcalfe, […]