Legislation seeks to restore Oct. 31 census deadline

A census taker knocks on doors in Dillingham on Sept. 2, 2020, as part of the once-a-decade count that helps determine how federal funds are distributed. (Photo by Isabelle Ross/KDLG)

Alaska Rep. Don Young has introduced legislation that would return the census deadline to Oct. 31.

Young introduced the bipartisan and bicameral legislation — 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, or H.R. 8250 — with Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

Young said in a news release that if census takers are unable to provide a thorough and accurate census count in Alaska, then “billions in federal funding will be left on the table over the next decade. We must extend the Census deadline.”

The release goes on to say, “Alaskans deserve to have their roads, schools, recreation areas, and other public services fully funded; our field staff need more time to complete this critical task.”

In early August, the Census Bureau announced it would move the census deadline up to the end of September — out of concerns about the coronavirus. But various advocacy and Indigenous groups decried the decision, saying it would lead to a drastic undercounting of people.

Then on Sept. 5, a federal judge in California issued an injunction ordering the Census Bureau to stop winding down its operations until a hearing on a preliminary injunction on Thursday, Sept. 17.

Two days after the judge’s decision, the Census Bureau began halting the layoffs of door-to-door census takers.

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