Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola delivers her annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Monday, in Juneau. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)

Peltola celebrates federal intervention in Albertsons, Kroger merger in legislative address

The one-term lawmaker said collaboration between stakeholders has helped produce wins for Alaska’s fisheries and the state’s economy

U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola delivers her annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Monday, in Juneau. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
From left: Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, and Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, speak during an at-ease on debate on education legislation on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Senate concurs on House education bill, Dunleavy is skeptical

The governor’s office announced Dunleavy will hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon in Anchorage to discuss the legislation

From left: Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, and Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, speak during an at-ease on debate on education legislation on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
From left, Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, hugs Rep. Stanley Wright, R-Anchorage, after House passage of sweeping education legislation while Rep. Maxine Dibert, D-Fairbanks, watches on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

House passes BSA increase, with other education provisions

The bill now goes back to the Senate, where lawmakers must approve the bill as-is before it can head to the governor’s desk

From left, Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, hugs Rep. Stanley Wright, R-Anchorage, after House passage of sweeping education legislation while Rep. Maxine Dibert, D-Fairbanks, watches on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, listens to testimony during a Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday in Juneau. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Bjorkman game seizure bill received warmly in Senate committee

Of the roughly 150 animals the department takes each year, an average of between one and two are determined to be wrongfully seized

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, listens to testimony during a Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday in Juneau. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Rep. Justin Ruffridge speaks about

House considers, rejects multiple school funding amendments during Wednesday floor debate

Over several hours, lawmakers considered six different increases in the Base Student Allocation to public schools

Rep. Justin Ruffridge speaks about
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses members of the Alaska Legislature in the House chambers on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)

Dismissing critics, Sullivan touts LNG project

During his annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Wednesday, the U.S. senator said state leaders should be doing everything they can to make the project successful

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan addresses members of the Alaska Legislature in the House chambers on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Tie vote kills early House debate on education funding

Lawmakers went into an hourslong recess that ended with adjournment until Tuesday morning

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
From left, Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, east side setnetter Ken Coleman and Konrad Jackson present information about a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for east side setnet fishery permits during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Senate committee hears setnet buyback bill

The East Side of Cook Inlet Set Net Fleet Reduction Act is sponsored by Nikiski Sen. Jesse Bjorkman

From left, Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, east side setnetter Ken Coleman and Konrad Jackson present information about a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for east side setnet fishery permits during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Attendees of the 2024 Alaska State of the State address applaud Rose Dunleavy, Alaska’s first lady, on Tuesday. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

At annual legislative speech, Gov. Dunleavy calls for more Alaska development projects

The governor asked legislators to pass bills related to education, agriculture, home ownership, and the supply of natural gas for Southcentral Alaska

Attendees of the 2024 Alaska State of the State address applaud Rose Dunleavy, Alaska’s first lady, on Tuesday. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Deena Bishop, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, testifies Saturday during a House Rules Committee meeting. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Peninsula residents weigh in on school funding debate

More than a dozen comments were made by residents of the Kenai Peninsula on S.B. 140

Deena Bishop, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, testifies Saturday during a House Rules Committee meeting. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
A graph showing the week by week case counts of RSV, the flu and COVID-19 in Alaska, part of the State Department of Health’s Respiratory Virus Snapshot. (Courtesy Alaska Department of Health)

COVID, RSV trend downward in state data

While a COVID spike has been observed state- and nationwide for much of December and January, the same rise hasn’t been so sharp on the Kenai Peninsula

A graph showing the week by week case counts of RSV, the flu and COVID-19 in Alaska, part of the State Department of Health’s Respiratory Virus Snapshot. (Courtesy Alaska Department of Health)
Department of Health logo. (Graphic)
Department of Health logo. (Graphic)
Senate President Gary Stevens, a Kodiak Republican, confers with other senators and legislative staff moments before gavelling in the start of this year’s legislative session at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Lawmakers open session with education discussion

Early effort to overturn veto of one-time school funding fails in House

Senate President Gary Stevens, a Kodiak Republican, confers with other senators and legislative staff moments before gavelling in the start of this year’s legislative session at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

State data: Kenai Peninsula Borough not seeing statewide rise in COVID activity

A state and nationwide upward trend in COVID-19 activity has seen spikes in case counts and hospitalizations, but state data indicates the surge hasn’t made… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman (left) addresses constituents during a town hall event on Saturday, April 15, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Bjorkman prefiles bills, says pressure is on for lawmakers this session

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman was well-represented on the list of bills prefiled by state lawmakers ahead of their upcoming session, which kicks off Jan. 16 in… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman (left) addresses constituents during a town hall event on Saturday, April 15, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
The deadline for the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, which comes from the fund managed by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, is March 31. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

PFD applications open for 2024

As of Tuesday evening, 37,000 people had submitted their application

The deadline for the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, which comes from the fund managed by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, is March 31. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Job Center is seen in Kenai, Alaska on April 15, 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)

Minimum wage increased by $0.88

This year’s increase is the largest adjustment since the minimum wage began to be adjusted for inflation

The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Job Center is seen in Kenai, Alaska on April 15, 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Clouds cover the beach at Lowell Point State Recreation Site on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023 near Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Fee increases for State Park usage rescinded days before going into effect

The existing fees will continue to be apply “as if they were never replaced”

Clouds cover the beach at Lowell Point State Recreation Site on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023 near Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Joel Isaak speaks during a Celebration of Life for Dr. Alan Boraas at Kenai Peninsula College on Jan. 17, 2020. Isaak was named deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development on Friday. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)

Local Dena’ina linguist named DEED deputy commissioner

Joel Isaak teaches Dena’ina at Kenai Peninsula College and works as a linguist for the Kenaitze Indian Tribe

Joel Isaak speaks during a Celebration of Life for Dr. Alan Boraas at Kenai Peninsula College on Jan. 17, 2020. Isaak was named deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development on Friday. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)