The House could vote to remove the amendments focused on vaccine mandates before the session ends on Tuesday.
Hospitals in Southcentral Alaska are in crisis, and the head of the state hospital association wants Gov. Mike Dunleavy to issue a disaster declaration to help ease the pressure.
Shortly before Dunleavy ended the declaration, state Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum declared a more limited public health emergency under powers granted by the newly signed law.
While the disaster declaration expired on Feb. 14, House Bill 76 would make the extension retroactive to that date.
The end of the month is the deadline for the Legislature to pass a bill — and for Dunleavy to sign it — or low-income Alaskans will lose $8 million in additional food aid.
On average, all of Alaska’s governors over the past decade have issued a disaster declaration within 29 days of a crisis occurring. Gov. Mike Dunleavy, with an average of 45 days for disaster response, is pulling that overall average up.
Bethel Democratic Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky noted that the statewide COVID-19 threat level remains high. And she said the effect of new, highly contagious variants of the coronavirus in the state is unknown.
The governor also said returning to a disaster declaration would irreparably harm Alaskans’ trust in state government.
More than five weeks after the declaration expired, Dunleavy and some legislators disagree with other lawmakers over whether to bring the disaster declaration back.
Supporters say the bill would allow health care providers to continue to offer alternate sites for screening and testing and continue to use telemedicine during the pandemic.