Articles written by Claire Stremple

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Court strikes down state money for homeschooled students

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has struck down an Alaska law that allows the state to allocate cash payments to parents of homeschooled students, ruling that it violates constitutional prohibitions against spending state money on religious or priv... Full story

 
 By Claire Stremple    News    March 27, 2024

Governor wants to criminalize unpermitted street protests

Opponents of Gov. Mike Dunleavey’s proposal to criminalize unpermitted street protests and other activities that block passage through public places said it is unconstitutional, too vague and too broad to become law. If Senate Bill 255 or its c... Full story

 
 By Claire Stremple    News    March 20, 2024

Governor believes teacher bonuses, charter schools are the answers

South Anchorage high school teacher Logan Pitney said his colleagues are making exit strategies to flee their bad financial prospects in Alaska. He called Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s teacher retention bonus plan a “Band-Aid on an arterial bleed.” Juneau Sup... Full story

 
 By Claire Stremple    News    March 20, 2024

State finally caught up on food stamp applications

The Alaska Division of Public Assistance said March 5 it has caught up on food stamp applications. That means no Alaskan is waiting an unlawful amount of time for food aid for the first time since 2022. But there are people waiting for other... Full story

 
 By Claire Stremple    News    March 13, 2024

Legislature wants to direct more money to assist crime victims

Money in a state account that grew out of efforts to aid victims of violent crimes has been going predominantly to the Department of Corrections instead, to cover inmate health care. Meanwhile, the state’s victim services programs are scrambling for... Full story

 

Governor threatens veto of school funding increase

Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued an ultimatum to state legislators on Tuesday, saying he will veto a multipart education funding bill unless lawmakers pass separate legislation that contains his education priorities. Speaking from his office in Anchorage,... Full story

 

State almost clear of backlogged food stamp applications

As of last week, the backlog of Alaskans waiting for the state to process their food stamp applications was down to just over 500 — a big improvement over the 14,000 unresolved applications of a year ago. The state’s Division of Public Assistance is... Full story

 

Head of troopers says state lacking in rural communities

Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell told lawmakers on Feb. 6 that he doesn’t know how the state can justify the relative lack of resources it has provided to rural Alaska. “Since statehood, the state has followed a fal... Full story

 

School funding supporters continue work in state Capitol

Supporters of education funding crowded a legislative committee room on Feb. 5, advocating for a permanent increase in the state funding formula for public schools. Though the advocates were unified in their message to a joint meeting of House and Se... Full story

 

Alaska courts still dealing with backlog of cases from COVID shutdown

Alaska’s courts have had a backlog of cases since courts shut down for months during the COVID-19 pandemic. The backlog has persisted, in part because of attorney shortages. The court typically carries many pending cases, but the number of pending c... Full story

 

State troopers, other agencies struggle under high vacancy rates

To keep Alaska communities safe and workloads manageable, Department of Public Safety Commissioner Jim Cockrell said he would need 35% more state troopers than he has now. After he fills the 62 vacancies in the department, he wants to ask for about 9... Full story

 

Alaska back at risk of losing federal money for food stamp program

Alaska’s Department of Health risks losing federal funding for its food stamp program, warned a letter from the United States Department of Agriculture on Jan. 30. It said the department is out of compliance with federal standards for the S... Full story

 

Quakers' reparations help fund start of Native healing center near Kake

An unused U.S. Forest Service building in Kake may soon be a healing center for the community to move forward from generations of trauma after a boarding school harmed members of the Alaska Native... Full story

 

State council says no to hiring prison guards at 18

The Alaska Police Standards Council has voted down a regulation change that would have allowed the state to hire corrections officers as young as 18 years old — the current minimum age is 21. The Department of Corrections floated the proposal as a t... Full story

 

State works to clear backlog of delayed food stamp applications

The Alaska Division of Public Assistance processed more than 2,000 food stamp applications over eight days in mid-December as it works to clear a backlog that has kept thousands of Alaskans waiting for benefits. Earlier in December, food aid was... Full story

 

State domestic violence services running short of federal funding

A major source of funding for Alaska’s domestic violence response has decreased significantly the past five years, leaving a multimillion-dollar hole in the budget for services. That reduction, paired with the end of federal pandemic relief money a... Full story

 

Advocates say more funding needed to stop cycle of domestic violence

When Kara Carlson experienced sexual assault as a teenager, she said it was traumatic but not shocking: “I was the last of my friends to experience sexual violence,” she said. “We live in this world where you have to prepare women for surviving traum... Full story

 

State may lower minimum age for prison guards to 18

The state council that sets and enforces standards for employment, training and certification of law enforcement officers in Alaska has approved a proposal to lower the minimum age of state prison guards from 21 to 18 years old. The proposal requires...

 

Paperwork problems continue to kick Alaskans off Medicaid

When Brandy Barnes got the first notice that she might be dropped from Medicaid, she was worried. One of her teenage sons is autistic and needs significant care to lead a full life. “My main concern is that my son is disabled,” she said. “He has t... Full story

 

State caught up on old food stamp applications but behind on new requests

Officials from the state Division of Public Assistance said its staff has worked through the backlog of applications for food stamps that stressed Alaska families for more than a year. But that success came at the cost of what officials are calling... Full story

 

AmeriCorps wants to expand work with Alaska communities, including elder mentors

On a visit to Alaska last month, the leader of the national community service agency AmeriCorps said the group plans to increase its investment in the state. AmeriCorps received an additional billion dollars for its nationwide budget as part of the... Full story

 

Federal grant will fund canoe carving program for Southeast students

Federal money for arts, culture and educational programs will fund the creation of two dugout canoes in Southeast Alaska. Goldbelt Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Goldbelt, the Native corporation for Juneau, will teach Alaska Native youth... Full story

 

Thousands of Alaskans lose Medicaid as state reviews eligibility

The number of Alaskans covered by Medicaid has dropped by more than 14,000 since April, after federal protections for the health care benefits ended with expiration of the COVID-19 emergency declaration. The number losing their benefits may increase... Full story

 

First-time state report lists 24 missing Alaska Natives

According to a new state report, nearly 200 Alaska Native or American Indian people went missing between the beginning of April and the end of June in Alaska. Two dozen of them have not been found. Violence against American Indian and Alaska Native... Full story

 

Federal grants will help Tlingit and Haida bring back more artifacts

Alaska tribes, including the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks will receive more than $350,000 in federal grants to use toward... Full story

 

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