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GREEN LIGHT – Karen Lucas works in her Katlian Street garden this afternoon. Warm sunny weather this spring has been a boon for local gardeners. The Farmers' Almanac is predicting this summer will be warmer than normal, with the hottest period in early July. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Legislators Look At 2nd Special Session

By BECKY BOHRER
Associated Press
    JUNEAU (AP) — Alaska lawmakers ended their special session today already anticipating another, leaving unsettled a state infrastructure budget and the size of dividend check to pay residents this year from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund.
    “We will be coming back this summer, and I wanted to assure the public that we are going to absolutely provide a dividend this year,” House Majority Leader Steve Thompson said in a floor speech.
    Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy called for the next special session to start July 8 in his hometown of Wasilla, listing the recommended venue of a middle school there.
    He said a change of venue was needed to “refocus the conversation.”
    Dunleavy’s proclamation deals with the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, or PFD. “Once the issue of the PFD is solved, these other budgetary issues will fall into place quickly,” he said in a statement.
    House Speaker Bryce Edgmon told reporters earlier in the day he didn’t see a special session taking place in Wasilla.
    “I think the more productive environment is here in Juneau,” the Dillingham independent said. The Legislative Affairs Agency previously raised concerns with the school site, but Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow said the facility is “more than adequate.”
    The governor can call lawmakers into special session or lawmakers can call themselves into one. Edgmon said lawmakers spoke with Dunleavy Wednesday and said they preferred a special session sometime in July over convening one immediately.
    On Thursday, with time running out in this special session, the Senate accepted the remnants of the capital budget the House passed Wednesday.
    The House failed to reach the three-quarter threshold required to fund major provisions, which Senate Finance Committee Co-chair Natasha von Imhof said left millions of dollars in projects unfunded and federal match money at risk. Still, there were parts of the budget that were funded, and the Senate opted to move forward with those while acknowledging the need to come to agreement on the remaining elements in the coming weeks.
    The time limit on this special session was set to expire Friday. Lawmakers have been meeting in regular or special sessions since mid-January.
    Dunleavy has insisted on a full dividend payout this year, equating to checks of roughly $3,000, after three years of reduced payments amid an ongoing budget deficit.
    Dividends traditionally have been paid using permanent fund earnings, which lawmakers last year also began using to help fund government, creating tension. The dividend and use of fund earnings is being discussed by a special working group created by the House and Senate to make recommendations in the hopes of breaking a logjam on that issue.
    The House, with a bipartisan majority coalition composed largely of Democrats, rejected a full payout Wednesday. The Republican-led Senate, more sharply divided on the issue, rejected a full payout after earlier including one in its version of the state operating budget. Senate President Cathy Giessel has said members of her majority expressed willingness to support a full dividend if the formula were changed going forward.
    During this special session, lawmakers did pass legislation aimed at addressing crime concerns.
   

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 5-28-20)

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 10:55 a.m. Thursday.

New cases as of Wednesday: 13

Total statewide – 425

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 46, and the cumulative number of deaths is 10.

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

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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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