Photo: Carl Johnson

Aerial view of the village of Nome, Alaska, and the ice-covered Bering Sea at sunrise. Copyright Carl Johnson

The legislature is currently discussing if a virtual session may be permitted in lieu of an in-person session due to the current COVID health mandates, according to a letter Senator Donald Olsen sent his constituents Wednesday. 

Olsen, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, suggested the committee "will likely meet in the first part of May" to discuss Govenor Michael Dunleavy's plan on how to use Alaska's $1.25 billion federal COVID-19 financial aid package.

Dunleavy wants to designate $562 million for communities; $300 million for small business loans; $50 million for nonprofits and $337 million for public health, but it is up to the Legislature to make the needed appropriations.

Governor's proposed community funding amounts and the schedule of disbursements by community from the CARES Act funding can be found at this link.
According to Olsen, the CARES Act funding should hit the state treasury Friday or Monday, and community disbursements will be distributed on May 1, July 1 and October 1.

The CARES act also awards $29 million for public transit; $32 million for Anchorage and Fairbanks international airports, and $100 million in aid for fisheries.

The CARES act directly offers aid to tribes, some airports, and health care facilities, in addition to personal $1,200 stimulus checks and Small Business Administration loans.

Before going into recess, the Legislature granted gave open-ended “receipt authority” for federal unemployment, Medicaid, and Public Health funds so federal funding could be channeled to the Department of Health and Human Services post haste.