Author

Lisa Phu

Lisa Phu

Lisa Phu covered justice, education, and culture for Alaska Beacon. Previously, she spent eight years as an award-winning journalist, reporting for the Juneau Empire, KTOO Public Media, KSTK, and Wrangell Sentinel. She's also been Public Information Officer for the City and Borough of Juneau, lead facilitator for StoryCorps Alaska based in Utqiagvik, and a teacher in Tanzania and Bhutan. Originally from New York, Lisa is a first generation Chinese American and a mom of two young daughters. She can be contacted at [email protected]

While governor aims for a ‘pro-life state,’ abortion rights appear entrenched in Alaska

By: - February 15, 2023

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy spent the last five minutes of his recent State of State address talking about becoming “the most pro-life state in the country,” conspicuously never using the word “abortion.”   “Through the actions we’ll take together, when people ask which of the 50 states values children and families the most, from the moment […]

A court services officer is shown wearing a body camera. (Photo provided by Alaska Department of Public Safety)

Alaska State Troopers will soon be wearing body cameras. The public can comment on what the rules will be. 

By: - February 8, 2023

Around 30 Alaska state troopers and other state law enforcement will start wearing body cameras for the first time this coming spring under an Alaska Department of Public Safety pilot program. Ahead of the pilot program, the public can provide written comment from Wednesday through March 1 on the state’s draft body worn camera policy.  […]

Alaska Department of Corrections Commissioner Jen Winkelman presents to the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 1. (Screenshot)

Alaska Corrections head says 18 in-custody deaths in 2022 were ‘too many’

By: - February 2, 2023

Alaska’s Department of Corrections commissioner told legislators Wednesday that the 18 in-custody deaths in 2022 – seven of which were a result of suicide – were high. “That is too many. I absolutely know that,” Jen Winkelman said while giving an overview of the department to the House Judiciary Committee. “They are somebody’s brother, they […]

Participants in a pro-education rally hold signs in front of the Alaska State Capitol on Monday night, Jan. 23, 2023. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska senators say $1,000 increase to per student funding is “beginning of a conversation”

By: - February 1, 2023

The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday introduced a bill proposing a $1,000 increase to the amount Alaska’s state government pays schools per student. This proposed base student allocation increase comes as dozens of people have testified and hundreds rallied at the Capitol in recent weeks for better public education funding.  The amount per student is […]

Jessica Clayton and 10-year-old son Mavrick Clayton at the Back to School shoe giveaway event at Northgate Church in Wasilla, Alaska, in August 2022. (Photo provided by Jessica Clayton)

‘Hungry, frustrated and unheard’: With food stamp backlog, Alaska parent struggles to feed son

By: - January 31, 2023

The last time Palmer resident Jessica Clayton received food stamps to help feed her and her 10-year-old son was Nov. 1. Clayton said Monday she’s feeling “hungry, frustrated and unheard, like I don’t matter, like my kid doesn’t matter.”  She’s been getting by with the help of two different food banks and the generosity of […]

(Photo by Eyecrave Productions/Getty Images)

Lawsuit says Alaska statute allowing public funding to go to private schools is unconstitutional

By: - January 25, 2023

The question is resurfacing, but this time in a lawsuit: Can families enrolled in a state-funded correspondence program use their allotment to pay for private school classes? Last June, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development didn’t know the answer so they asked the state’s attorney general’s office, which offered a response that drew […]

A sign for a store that accepts food stamps and exchange benefits transfer cards is seen in this 2019 photo. Ten Alaskans are suing the state over its failure to provide food stamps within the time frames required by federal law. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Lawsuit says Alaska Department of Health exposed thousands to hunger risk by not giving food aid

By: - January 20, 2023

Ten Alaskans are suing the state, saying it failed to provide food stamps within the time frames required by federal law. The complaint was filed Friday in Superior Court in Anchorage against Alaska Health Commissioner Heidi Hedberg. The lawsuit said that in her role as commissioner of a department that failed to provide needed services, Hedberg “has […]

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, is seen in the chambers of the Alaska Senate on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. Hughes is one of three Republican senators outside the Senate's 17-person supermajority. At right is Sen. Loki Tobin, D-Anchorage. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Seventeen of 20 Alaska senators are in the majority. What about the other three?

By: - January 19, 2023

Sen. Shelley Hughes thought she’d be on the Senate Education Committee. She said Senate President Gary Stevens had asked her to be on it and she agreed. “He has a real heart for the kids and education as I do also, so he was really happy when I agreed, and he called me probably a […]

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 […]

Niviaaluk (Nivi) Brandt with their second child in Nome, Alaska. This photo was taken in 2017. (Photo provided by Niviaaluk Brandt)

Nome mom overcomes barriers to abortion and finds new freedom

By: - January 17, 2023

Most abortions are banned in 14 states in the country as of early January. Alaska is not one of them. The right to have an abortion here is protected under the state constitution’s privacy provision.  But that doesn’t mean it’s equitable for all Alaskans to access one. Due to Alaska’s vastness and limited number of […]

This symbol is inside of the Alaska Department of Corrections office on Sept. 7, 2022, in Douglas, Alaska. (Photo by Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)

Winkelman named Alaska Corrections commissioner-designee by Gov. Dunleavy

By: - January 12, 2023

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has named the Alaska Department of Corrections’ interim leader to serve long term as the agency’s commissioner-designee. The position is subject to confirmation by the Legislature. Dunleavy, in a news release Wednesday, announced the selection of Jen Winkelman, who has served in a variety of roles within Corrections since 2001. Winkelman was […]

Bills filed ahead of Alaska legislative session seek changes to health care, social justice

By: - January 10, 2023

Several bills prefiled for the Alaska Legislative session that starts next week focus on health care and social justice issues, like abortion, access to contraceptives and marriage equality – bills and resolutions the Legislature has seen before. House Joint Resolution 1 seeks to amend the Alaska Constitution by repealing Article 1, section 25, which says, […]