Alaska Politics

Political news coverage from the Alaska Public Radio Network.

What’s up with the Mat-Su, and why is it steering Alaska’s politics?

Over the last several decades, the population of the Matanuska and Susitna valleys has grown dramatically. With that boom has come political power — and the rise of a particular brand of conservatism.

State DHSS suspends thousands of senior benefits payments

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has suspended payments for some recipients of the state’s Senior Benefits Program due to a lack of funding.

Ocean Rangers log potential cruise pollution, face axe by lawmakers

Over the past two years Alaska’s on-board cruise ship inspectors called Ocean Rangers have documented a pattern of potentially serious water pollution. But there’s been no apparent action by regulators, and Gov. Dunleavy’s administration wants to get rid of the program.

Senators weigh splitting permanent fund draw between state and dividends — and limiting spending

Sen. Natasha von Imhof says the combination of splitting the Alaska Permanent Fund draw and limiting spending would allow PFDs to grow over time.

AG Barr to visit rural Alaska

"Alaska Native women ... face unacceptably high levels of violence in very remote areas and I’ve actually scheduled a trip up to Alaska specifically to visit some of these communities,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said at a Senate hearing.

Dunleavy says money set aside for Alaska schools is subject to veto. Lawmakers disagree.

A new fight is erupting in Juneau about spending on Alaska's public schools. It centers on whether Gov. Mike Dunleavy has the power to veto money state lawmakers set aside for schools last year, for the upcoming school year – a practice called "forward funding."

Caring for Alaska’s seniors during tense budget talks

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget proposes eliminating more than a third of the state’s funding for Medicaid. To achieve that, some hospitals and nursing homes could be paid less to provide skilled labor.

An end to school bond debt reimbursement could hike local property taxes

The recent House Finance Committee vote to end school bond debt reimbursement could have major implications for property owners in some municipalities.

Alaska Gov. Dunleavy’s red veto pen looms over this year’s budget debate

In Alaska, the governor wields line-item veto power stronger than in all 49 other states. And the high bar to override such vetoes, combined with Mike Dunleavy’s desire for spending cuts, is drawing new attention this year to the constitutional power.

State-sponsored raffle for public schools generates almost $1M in first year

Last year, the state established the program, allowing Alaskans to donate a portion of their Permanent Fund Dividends to the raffle. The raffle generated $976,400, and 75 percent of that -- $732,300 -- will go to schools.

In Ketchikan, Dunleavy presents arguments for big budget cuts

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s Monday visit to Ketchikan included a 90-minute question-and-answer session with residents. Outside about 30 demonstrators picketed the venue.

House Finance budget includes cuts, but less than the governor’s

The Alaska House Finance Committee has proposed a budget that reduces state spending by $314 million, less than a third of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed cut of $1.03 billion. The committee finished its work on Friday, proposing cuts that are much greater than those proposed by House subcommittees.

Lawmakers seek competitive contract to run psychiatric institute

Rep. Ivy Spohnholz said the department didn’t provide enough information to Chief Procurement Officer Jason Soza for him to be able to adequately review the contract, which would pay Wellpath $225 million over five years.

Former Gov. Bill Walker lands at political ally’s law firm

Former Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has a new job. Walker, an attorney, has joined the law office formerly known as Brena, Bell and Clarkson -- now known as Brena, Bell and Walker, according to a document filed Friday in a federal case.

Ballot initiative to move Alaska Legislature’s meetings clears early hurdle

After the sponsors get some official documents, they’ll have one year to collect more than 28,000 qualified signatures to put the question to voters in 2020.

Rep. Young shoves reporter on way to VAWA vote

Congressman Don Young has apologized for shoving a female reporter at the U.S. Capitol today. He was on his way to vote for the Violence Against Women Act.

Lawmakers amend budget to stop reimbursing municipalities for school bond debt

The House Finance Committee voted Wednesday for an amendment that would stop the state from reimbursing municipalities for existing school bond debt.

Alaska aims to be first state receiving federal Medicaid funding as a block grant

Gov. Mike Dunleavy told President Donald Trump in a letter dated March 1 that top federal Medicaid official Seema Verma has urged Alaska to be the first state to receive Medicaid dollars as a block grant.

VAWA bill would create limited ‘Indian Country’ for 5 Alaska tribes

The Violence Against Women Act renewal bill would allow up to five Alaska tribes territorial jurisdiction in their villages to prosecute domestic abuse and other crimes, whether the accused is a tribal member or not. 

Upper Cook Inlet fishermen take issue with Dunleavy Board of Fish appointee

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced four appointments to the Alaska Board of Fisheries Monday. One of Dunleavy’s picks has served on the board in the past and is likely to go through a heated confirmation process.