Coghill, Hopkins: Ready to return to Juneau
Interior legislators Senator John Coghill and Representative Grier Hopkins say they are ready to go back to Juneau.
The Alaska State Legislature is set to meet in Alaska's captial on Monday after going into recess in late March due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The news comes after CARES Act funds were distributed on Monday using a process that some lawmakers said was illegal.
On Wednesday, a lawsuit was filed against the state for illegally disbursing the funds.
Coghill and Hopkins say they want to get the money to Alaskans.
"The fear that we have is that the money would come from the federal government and then be stopped in a court injunction. That is not going to help us in Alaska in anyway so this is the quickest way of doing it. We have until Wednesday, basically until this 121st day of this regular session ends. We could extend by a two thirds vote, but I don't think that's necessary," said Coghill.
"It's good to go back to get the CARES Act funding out to Alaskans and to small businesses as quickly as we can. Our communities and our nonprofits are really struggling, and working together across the legislature to find the fastest way to get that money on the street to Alaskans is what is important. I'm looking forward to getting it done," said Hopkins.
Legislators traveling to Juneau will be screened and a sticker will be issued to be worn while in the Capitol confirming screening had occurred. Any who refuse testing will not receive the sticker.
Legislators must also wear masks and social distance.
Coghill and Hopkins say they want to take the precautions to stay safe.
"Just like any other business, if you have to do business, you want to do it as safely as you can. If people can do it in a grocery store, we can do it in the legislature. It's just that we're uniquely coming from all over Alaska, so the extra precaution is probably in order,” said Coghill.
"It's still going to be closed to the public of course, they can watch it on gavel to gavel or online, so it's still available for everybody. There will be masks required, there will be hand sanitizer everywhere, we will be practicing social distancing as much as we can, trying to do our business quickly and cleanly, and get in and out of there without having to dawdle. Hopefully [that will] keep us all safe," said Hopkins.