Today the Alaska Senate Majority sponsored Senate Resolution 2, which asks the Governor to issue a new disaster declaration. This action was necessary because the Legislature has not been able to act to extend the current declaration.
Within the Resolution’s Whereas clauses (lines 8-15), the Senate ascribed to communities and “local action” statements that should be retracted. Specifically, the Senate appears to blame school districts for depression, child abuse, and food insecurity. The Senate appears to blame local governments for thousands of job losses and massive economic harm. Both statements are grossly inaccurate, and surprising to come while recognizing that we remain in the midst of a pandemic.
We want to be clear – it was not local action that closed schools or reduced economic activity – it was COVID-19. It has been the threat and reality of a global pandemic reaching into our communities and disrupting the lives and livelihoods of Alaskans. Together we have done our best to weather this storm.
Local school districts and local governments worked under the guidance of the CDC and DHSS to ensure that Alaskans avoided the worst of this public health emergency. Together, we flattened the curve, ensuring that right now we’re on a path to recovery. Alaska has remained at the forefront of testing, vaccination, and healthcare capacity because of these joint efforts.
The Senate’s resolution fails to recognize the necessary role for local action, with few statewide measures in place. The Governor has been clear throughout that the State depends on local control to take the necessary mitigation efforts that didn’t make sense at a statewide level. The Senate’s resolution fails to differentiate between how 165 cities and boroughs have acted, and how 54 school districts have all acted. It cannot be said – it is quite frankly wrong – that all acted the same, or even that the majority acted the same. Alaska has placed a priority on local control during its emergency response, and Alaska’s Senate appears to question the premise.
We request that Senate leaders issue an apology and correction, to right this wrong.