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 Legislature gets first look at carbon plan proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy

By: - January 28, 2023

Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday officially unveiled a pair of bills intended to market Alaska as a destination for companies interested in reducing the effect of their greenhouse gas emissions. The result could generate millions of dollars for the state while helping reduce the effect of global climate change. One bill would create laws and […]

Ahead of education-funding bill, supporters of Alaska public schools pitch their case

By: - January 27, 2023

In a series of hearings at the Capitol, teachers, administrators and concerned parents are making the case for a major increase in Alaska’s per-student funding and for other legislation that they say will help the state’s public schools. The hearings come as the Senate Education Committee prepares to introduce legislation on the topic. The bills […]

Alaska will receive $285 million in federal money to boost state ferry service

By: - January 26, 2023

The Federal Transit Administration has awarded more than a quarter-billion dollars to the Alaska Marine Highway System, Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said Wednesday. In a written statement, Alaska’s two U.S. senators said the grants, authorized under the 2021 federal infrastructure bill, cover six projects and amount to more than $285 million for […]

Sun shines through the canopy in the Tongass National Forest. (Photo by Brian Logan/U.S. Forest Service)

USDA says it will restore a ban on most development in the Tongass National Forest

By: - January 25, 2023

The Biden administration will ban new logging roads and most development in much of Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday. The decision, which repeals a 2020 USDA action under the Trump administration, continues a quarter-century of action and counter-action over development in the region, which contains the world’s largest […]

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)

Police and firefighter pension bill, long sought by unions, is revived in Alaska House

By: - January 25, 2023

A bill that would recreate a state pension plan for firefighters and police officers has been revived in the Alaska House of Representatives. On Tuesday, Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, introduced House Bill 22 to the House Committee on Community and Regional Affairs, bringing back an idea sought by public employee unions but which has failed […]

Jim Cockrell, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Public Safety, with Gov. Mike Dunleavy, speaks in Wasilla at a May 3, 2022 press conference on opioids. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

State troopers, misled by false court order, detained school principal for mental health check

By: - January 24, 2023

State troopers mistakenly took Alaska’s 2022 Principal of the Year into custody for a mental health examination last week after a family member presented troopers with a document they said was signed by a state judge. That wasn’t true, and Troopers and the Alaska Court System confirmed the mistake Tuesday, six days after Colony High […]

The four members of the Alaska Bush Caucus, (from left to right) Reps. Neal Foster, D-Nome; C.J. McCormick, D-Bethel; Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham; and Josiah Patkotak, I-Utqiagvik, take their oaths of office on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. On Thursday, three of the four voted in favor of Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, for speaker of the House. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

For rural Alaska lawmakers, local issues trumped party interests and swung the state House

By: - January 24, 2023

Last week, rural members of the Alaska House of Representatives ended the six-year reign of a predominantly Democratic coalition, flipping control of the House to a predominantly Republican coalition. By joining 19 of the House’s 21 Republicans, the four members of the House’s rural “Bush Caucus” averted the kind of leadership deadlock that plagued the […]

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy urges Legislature to fund more legal action against Biden administration

By: - January 23, 2023

In his annual address to the Alaska Legislature, Gov. Mike Dunleavy identified successes from his first four-year term in office and called for action on a list of administration priorities, including more funding for a “statehood defense” program that has launched a series of lawsuits against the federal government.  Speaking Monday night at the state […]

Dunleavy picks Sitka judge for Supreme Court, first justice in decades from small-town Alaska

By: - January 21, 2023

Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday appointed Jude Pate of Sitka to the Alaska Supreme Court, making him the first justice to come directly from someplace other than Juneau, Anchorage or Fairbanks since 1960. Before Pate, the last justice who met those standards was Walter Hodge, who came from Nome and served on the court in […]

Fresh in power, Alaska House’s new Republican-led coalition outlines its priorities

By: - January 20, 2023

A day after taking control of the Alaska House of Representatives, members of the new Republican-led coalition majority say they intend to prioritize fiscal issues and were cautious about proposals to increase the state’s per-student public school funding formula. “I think it’s probably safe to say that what brings us together is some fiscal stability […]

Tilton elected Alaska speaker of the House as rural legislators join Republicans in new coalition

By: - January 18, 2023

The Alaska House of Representatives elected Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, as speaker of the House, putting a predominantly Republican coalition in charge of the body. The new majority flips control of the House from the predominantly Democratic coalition that has controlled it since 2017 and means that conservative priorities stalled for the past six years […]

Alaska Legislature convenes with deadlock reigning in the House and the Senate jumping ahead

By: and - January 17, 2023

A closely divided Alaska House of Representatives stalled on Tuesday, the first day of the 33rd state Legislature and adjourned for the day without choosing a speaker of the House.  The 20-member Senate is controlled by a 17-person bipartisan supermajority, and legislators were sworn in Tuesday without incident except the unexplained absence of Sen. Mike […]