Author

Lisa Phu

Lisa Phu

Lisa Phu covers justice, education, and culture for the 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]

(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, […]

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

Alaska Corrections reports 18th death of 2022, most on record for past decade

By: - December 20, 2022

Morris Teeluk, 64, died on Dec. 11 at Goose Creek Correctional Center, becoming the 18th person to die in the state’s prison system this year, according to an Alaska Department of Corrections press release on Tuesday. This is the most in-custody deaths Corrections has seen in the past decade, the time period for which records […]

Tongass National Forest (Photo by U.S. Forest Service)

Alaska, source of carbon-emitting fossil fuels, aims to raise money by storing carbon

By: - December 16, 2022

Alaska’s state government raises hundreds of millions of dollars each year through the sale of oil that when burned contributes to climate change. Now the state is looking to also make money by preventing some of these gasses from entering the atmosphere. Gov. Mike Dunleavy plans to introduce a bill this upcoming legislative session aimed […]

Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai looks at a screen showing a ballot for adjudication during the House District 15 recount on Dec. 8, 2022, in Juneau. Fenumiai's last day of work before retiring is Dec. 9. (Photo by Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska’s elections head reflects on significant career, acknowledges issues with rural votes

By: - December 10, 2022

On her last day as director of the Alaska Division of Ds on Friday, Gail Fenumiai walked into her office in downtown Juneau and found about a hundred balloons everywhere – covering the floor, all the surfaces and chairs. Her whiteboard said, “It’s the final countdown” with the no. 1 underneath. “I’m feeling a sense […]

Jeffrey Congdon, Region II Elections Supervisor, feeds ballots through the scanner during the House District 15 recount on Dec. 8, 2022, at the Division of Elections Director's Office in Juneau. (Photo by Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)

Anchorage state House recount doesn’t change outcome, as Republican incumbent McKay keeps lead 

By: - December 8, 2022

The results of the Dec. 8 recount did not change the certified winner of the House District 15 race in Anchorage, the state’s closest race of the November election. Anchorage Republican incumbent Rep. Tom McKay still led Democratic challenger Denny Wells, after results were announced Thursday afternoon. McKay’s lead grew as a result of the […]

Alaska launched a program this month to provide financial aid to livestock farmers affected by rising prices for feed. (Photo provided by Ben Adams)

State aims $1 million at livestock farmers hit by rising cost of feed, but some see unmet need

By: - December 7, 2022

The cost of animal feed has risen this year and the weather in Alaska has reduced its availability, which has prompted livestock farmers to ask the state government for help. And while the state government has launched a financial aid program this month, some farmers say the program won’t impact the people who need it […]