Wednesday evening, Governor Dunleavy spoke directly to Alaskans that he will not issue a new COVID-19 disaster declaration, despite his willingness to issue new disaster declarations in the past. Senator Tom Begich (D-Anchorage), the Senate Democratic Leader, issued the following statement:
“These are challenging times. In the past, the Governor has seen fit to issue a new emergency declaration without the legislature’s concurrence, always claiming he is protecting Alaskans. I am not hearing that concern for Alaskans today.
“Whether I like it or not, the Governor should issue a new disaster declaration while the legislature is unable to act. If the Governor does not act to issue a new disaster declaration, he will knowingly place Alaskans’ life, health, and safety at risk. I have spoken with his staff about his need to act, and the legislature’s willingness to support an extension. At the same time his commissioners and staff testified about the imperative need for an extension. Either those needs were true and critical or weren’t.
“In the Senate, we are working in a bipartisan manner to act on his disaster declaration extension on time. We are confident we will pass this extension over to the House on Friday. The Governor knows full well the House is not yet organized and, unfortunately, does not have the capability to act on the extension. Even if they organized today, there still would not be enough time for them to act on the extension before the declaration expires.
“With our good faith and the recently announced commitment of House members, the Governor is clearly empowered to move forward with a new disaster declaration. He should do so.”