JUNEAU – The House Health and Social Services Committee today passed a resolution that would reject the governor’s Executive Order 119, which proposes splitting the Department of Health and Social Services into two distinct agencies.
Members of the committee expressed appreciation at collaborative efforts with the administration to find improvements in the services that the department provides but ultimately supported House Special Concurrent Resolution 1, arguing that EO 119 is rushing the process in a way that could carry real consequences for Alaskans.
“It has become clear as we evaluate the EO 119 that there are too many legal, program, and fiscal ambiguities to support it at this time,” said Co-Chair Tiffany Zulkosky (D-Bethel). “We are committed to working with the department to address the challenges posed by programs in crisis, but there are serious questions that have been raised about the constitutionality of this executive order that could put a number of essential programs at risk when Alaskans need them the most.”
Co-Chair Liz Snyder (D-Anchorage) added, “This committee looks forward to a productive and meaningful dialogue with the administration to find ways to improve the care that the department provides to Alaskans. The resolution that passed today does not necessarily disapprove the department’s reorganization: it instead offers a path that will give us the time, public input, and stakeholder engagement needed to make the best decision for Alaska.”
Following the 6-1 committee vote, HSCR 1 will now receive a referral to a standing committee in the Senate before potentially going before a joint meeting of the full House and Senate for final consideration.