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A WALK IN THE PARK – Jim Moormann walks through Sitka National Historical Park this morning, as he has every day for the past two and a half years. This Saturday is National Trails Day, an annual event which began in 1993 to honor the National Trail System. In normal years volunteers help with trail maintenance in parks across the country. This year there will be no organized cleanup in Sitka and, without tour ship visitors, Sitkans will have the park to themselves. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

House Gives Senate Aid Plan, Adjourns

By BECKY BOHRER
 
The Associated Press

JUNEAU (AP) — The Alaska House abruptly adjourned today after ratifying plans for using more than $1 billion in federal coronavirus relief aid, one day after reconvening to take up the issue. 

The Senate passed its own ratification bill but stayed in session to consider the House version, which aides said is identical.

Senate Rules Chair John Coghill, a North Pole Republican, said he did not see a problem if the bills are the same but said when the House sends a bill to the Senate, it needs a committee hearing. His committee heard the measure Tuesday morning, after the House adjourned.

The Senate scheduled a floor session for Wednesday.

Coghill said he was surprised by the House adjournment. But House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, an independent from Dillingham, said the House adjourned because it was done with its work. He said the House lacked support to take up other measures.

“Once we got the ratification bill through, our work was done. That was our commitment to coming down here in the first place,” he said.

The House had on its calendar bills aimed at updating alcohol laws and raising state motor fuels taxes. Those were not taken up. 

Sen. Lora Reinbold, an Eagle River Republican, was the lone no vote on the Senate ratification bill. She said she worried it was the giving the executive branch too much power over the purse.

The vote on the House side was 38-1, with Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, dissenting.

A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the spending plans prompted lawmakers to return to Juneau on Monday. It was the first time the full Legislature had reconvened since going into recess in late March amid coronavirus concerns.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy had submitted plans for distributing federal aid to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee under a process set out in law. That process allows a governor to submit to the committee plans to accept and spend additional federal or other program funds on a budget item. But concerns were raised that some of the items fell outside the scope of what can go through that committee process.

The committee nonetheless agreed to more than $1 billion in spending plans. Legislative attorney Megan Wallace, in a memo to the committee’s chair earlier this month, recommended the Legislature ratify the spending if it supported the actions. 

The ratification bills were intended to approve and ratify the actions by the committee and Dunleavy. 

Attorney Joe Geldhof filed the lawsuit on behalf of resident Eric Forrer, who Geldhof said plans to continue to contest the underlying constitutional issues raised by the case.

______________________

 

Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 6-5-20)

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 11:50 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 11

Total statewide – 524

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

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

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.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

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

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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