With Alaska’s Legislature set to convene, small businesses prioritize topics they want to see addressed by lawmakers

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 6:48 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - With less than a week remaining before Alaska’s state lawmakers gavel in for the start of the 32nd Legislature, small business owners in Alaska are making it known they there is a list of priorities that they want to see addressed before the end of session.

Thor Stacey, the director of Alaska’s chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, says it boils down to a handful of critical issues like providing legal protections for businesses in regards to litigation over COVID-19 exposure and getting more financial relief to businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

While House Bill Four would address concerns that businesses might be targeted with lawsuits related to COVID-19 exposure, Stacey says local NFIB members also want lawmakers to address issues like the added stress that has been put on state unemployment funds during the pandemic.

“The state unemployment trust, this bank of money that’s there to pay these benefits out, has been depleted fairly significantly from where we were just a short year ago,” he said. “The data that I have shows that we went from $500 million in that trust to $300 million now.”

Before any of these issues can be discussed, the Legislature will have to organize. With days until that scheduled start of the session, there’s no indication that months of talks over how lawmakers will organize might be settled by next Tuesday.

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