DEVELOPMENT OPTIONS – Harbor Point and No Name Mountain are pictured this afternoon from the Old Sitka Cruise Ship Dock. A draft master plan for the Granite Creek to No Name Mountain area was discussed at a joint Assembly and Planning Commission meeting Wednesday. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Legislators Short Votes to Override

Associated Press
     The Alaska Legislature failed today to override budget vetoes by Gov. Mike Dunleavy that will prompt a massive 41 percent cut of state funding to the University of Alaska and lay waste to other programs the governor deemed unaffordable.
    Forty five votes — a three-fourths majority of the 60 members of the state Senate and House — were required to override the vetoes by Dunleavy, a Republican who took office in December.
    More than one-third of legislators did not attend the special session in Juneau. All but one in attendance, Rep. Tammie Wilson, a North Pole Republican, voted to override but the effort still fell short with a 37-1 vote.
    The 14 members of the Senate who were present, including Sitka’s Republican senator Bert Stedman, voted to override the vetoes. Sitka’s Rep. Jonathan Kreis-Tomkins was in the 23 House members supporting the override.
    The special session began Monday and the Legislature has until midnight Friday to again consider veto overrides.
    Dunleavy also vetoed funding for a program that provides money to low-income senior citizens and state support for public broadcasting, the state arts council and ocean rangers who monitor cruise ship discharges.
    He reduced spending for Medicaid, social service programs, reimbursement to communities for school construction, and the Civil Air Patrol, which provides training and search-and-rescue services for Alaska’s flying community.
    He cut $334,700 for appellate courts, the same amount spent on abortion services through Medicaid in fiscal year 2018. Dunleavy opposed a state Supreme Court ruling in February that Alaska must fund abortion services through Medicaid.
    Alaskans pay no state income or sales tax and receive annual checks of more than $1,000 from earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund, a savings account created with oil wealth and grown over decades by investment earnings.
    Dunleavy has refused to consider new taxes or to tap into earnings from the permanent fund, as the Legislature has done for several years. He said last week that he based the budget vetoes on a desire to provide basic services “while understanding our fiscal constraints.”
    Critics say the cuts go too far and many turned out at rallies to protest. A crowd of nearly 2,000 people that gathered Tuesday night at UA Anchorage featured Portugal. The Man, a Grammy Award-winning band from Wasilla.
    University of Alaska officials say the system will lose $135 million on top of a $51 million cut over the past six years, which resulted in the loss of 1,200 faculty and staff members and 50 academic and degree programs.
    The officials warned that if the veto was not overridden, as many as 2,000 more staff and faculty would be lost, including 700 at UA Anchorage, along with 40 degree programs.
    Officials outside Alaska were beginning to take notice. A faculty group, United Academics, distributed a letter from Sonny Ramaswarmy, president of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, warning that UA accreditation could be jeopardized if student achievement is affected by budget cuts.
    The absent lawmakers stayed away from the vote Wednesday because of an ongoing dispute about where the Legislature should meet.
    Dunleavy called the special session and declared it should be held in his hometown of Wasilla, a city of 8,275 people about 43 miles (69 kilometers) north of Anchorage and in the heart of his conservative base.
    Senate President Cathy Giessel, an Anchorage Republican, and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, an Independent from Dillingham, instead opted to meet at the capitol in Juneau, a decision that minority Republicans in the House said was illegal.
    Six senators were absent or excused Wednesday. Sixteen representatives stayed away. Many gathered at a makeshift legislative hall set up at a Wasilla middle school.
    Anchorage television station KTUU reported that protesters in Wasilla shouted over the lawmakers during an invocation and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
    The demonstrators took seats in a gymnasium that carried lawmakers’ names and chanted “Override 45!” referring to the number of lawmakers’ votes required to override the governor’s vetoes, and “Don’t hide, override!”




Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 6-4-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:00 a.m. Thursday.

New cases as of Wednesday: 8

Total statewide – 513

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 48, and the cumulative number of deaths is 10.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.



Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

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Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

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