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]

See scenes of new Alaska legislators in training

By: - January 14, 2023

Twenty of the Alaska Legislature’s 60 members will be new to the building this year, and if you count legislators who are returning to the building after doing their best impersonation of Grover Cleveland – the president who served non-consecutive terms – the number rises to 23.  Add the three members of the House who […]

Alaska Supreme Court rules in favor of Jennie Armstrong, clearing her to serve in Legislature

By: - January 13, 2023

The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld the eligibility of Rep.-elect Jennie Armstrong, D-Anchorage, to serve in the state Legislature. In a summary decision issued Friday, three of the court’s justices voted 2-1 to uphold a lower-court decision in Armstrong’s favor. The justices did not provide an immediate explanation for their decision; one will be published […]

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)

Report shows Alaska has almost eliminated its backlog of untested sexual assault evidence

By: - January 12, 2023

Alaska’s backlog of untested sexual assault examination kits has all but disappeared after a five-year, multimillion-dollar effort, according to a report that will be formally presented to the Alaska Legislature on Tuesday.  The kits, colloquially known as “rape kits,” are used to collect physical evidence after a sexual assault. Figures published by the Alaska Department […]

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)

Alaska Supreme Court will hear challenge to Anchorage Democrat’s legislative eligibility

By: - January 11, 2023

A Superior Court ruling that upheld the legislative eligibility of Rep.-elect Jennie Armstrong, D-Anchorage, is being appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court. Late Tuesday, defeated Republican candidate Liz Vazquez and four supporters filed the appeal with the state’s high court, asking justices to overturn the Monday decision by Judge Herman Walker. The Alaska Legislature convenes […]

Elections, daylight saving and more: Alaska lawmakers release first batch of draft legislation

By: - January 9, 2023

Alaska legislators released the text of 63 bills and five constitutional amendments on Monday, giving Alaskans a first look at legislation prefiled before the Alaska Legislature convenes Jan. 17 in Juneau. A second batch of prefiled bills will be released Friday, and still more will be made public on the first day of the legislative […]

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 upholds Anchorage Democrat’s eligibility after legal challenge from defeated Republican

By: - January 9, 2023

An Alaska Superior Court judge has ruled against a challenge to Rep.-elect Jennie Armstrong’s eligibility, clearing the way for the Anchorage Democrat to take office when the Legislature convenes Jan. 17 in Juneau. “Based upon the subjective and objective evidence presented at trial and the credibility of the witnesses, the court finds that Armstrong meets […]

The University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau as seen on May 25, 2022

Panel picks five nominees for new chancellor of University of Alaska Southeast

By: - January 9, 2023

A search committee has picked the chairman of Sealaska Corp. and four education officials as finalists to serve as the chancellor of the University of Alaska Southeast, one of three main branches of the University of Alaska System. On Monday, the university announced the shortlist of candidates for the job that will open when current […]

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska Gov. Dunleavy appoints two new judges to Anchorage Superior Court

By: - January 7, 2023

Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed a public advocate and a private-practice attorney to two vacant seats on the Anchorage Superior Court, his office announced Friday. Laura Hartz, a 2005 graduate of the University of Oregon School of Law, and Christina Rankin, a 2002 graduate of the Syracuse University College of Law, were appointed by the governor […]

(Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Alaska follows other states, bans social media app TikTok from state-owned electronics

By: - January 6, 2023

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday issued a memo banning the use of the China-based social media platform TikTok on state-issued devices, citing cybersecurity concerns. “Simply put, TikTok poses a clear risk to any network or user it touches,” the memo said in part. The decision follows similar action by almost 20 states and the […]

With session approaching, Alaska House members seek to avoid leadership struggle like in U.S. House

By: - January 6, 2023

As Americans watch the U.S. House struggle to elect a leader, Alaskans may soon see a similar situation develop in the state House of Representatives. “These proceedings back east, it’s a stark reminder to a lot of us that we could be going through the same thing,” said Rep. Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham. Eleven days before […]

Alaska’s population rose slightly in 2022, but more people continue to leave than arrive

By: - January 5, 2023

Alaska’s population rose in 2022 according to new estimates released Thursday by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, marking a second consecutive year of increases after four years of declines.  State demographers also retroactively boosted the state’s 2021 population estimate after new data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicated fewer people moved out […]

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 […]