10 ways a state government shutdown would impact Alaskans
The Department of Natural Resources would likely continue wildland firefighting operations and operation of the Alaska Volcano Observatory but may halt all other operations, including:
• Issuance of DNR permits and authorizations
• Field inspections, timber and land sales, agricultural certifications, and DNR participation in planned research activities
• Operation of all Recorder’s Office locations, which record documents necessary to complete real property sales and other commercial transactions
• Operation of public restrooms and state park visitor centers
• Park rangers, campground hosts or other personnel to assist visitors
• Operation of state park fee stations, water pumps and other systems that require routine maintenance
• State park lands and campgrounds could remain open for public use but without services
• Operation of public information center locations in Anchorage and Fairbanks, which handle customer service calls, visits, and payments
The Department of Environmental Conservation says some level of services may continue during a shutdown, like maintaining a level of preparedness to respond to an oil or hazardous substance spill, air quality advisories, disease prevention, and clean drinking water.
Services that could cease in a shutdown:
• Issuance of permits, including air, wastewater, and retail food programs. This could potentially impact new resource development projects as well as small food service businesses looking to get up and running for the summer visitor season.
• Loans and grants to municipalities for water and sewer infrastructure projects during construction season.
• Oversight of cruise ships in Alaska waters.
• Retail food inspections and complaint response.
• Licensing of businesses and professionals that allows them to work in Alaska
• Licensing and regulation of the insurance, banking, and securities industries
• Licensing and inspection of commercial marijuana cultivation, testing, retail and alcoholic beverage sales
• Seafood marketing
• Issuance of commercial fishing loans
• Distribution of revenue sharing and community assistance funding to local governments
• Administration of the loan program that assists communities with the purchase bulk fuel to generate power or supply rural communities with fuel
• Processing of applications and notices of utility rate changes
• Onsite technical assistance of rural water and wastewater utilities
• Technical assistance regarding local government or boundary issues
• Action on ANCSA shareholder complaints about false and misleading proxy statements in pending ANCSA corporate board elections
Minimal staff may continue for constitutionally- and federally-mandated requirements like formula funding, summer food programs, and the Alaska Student Loan Corp.
• Early learning and Head Start programs, and federal Title programs and grants that support the state’s most vulnerable students
• Processing of teacher certifications
• The operation of Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Professional Teaching Practices Commission, the Alaska State Library, the Alaska State Archives, the Alaska State Museum, and the Sheldon Jackson Museum
• Operation of the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff Building in Juneau, which includes the Alaska State Museum. The summer season is the busiest time for visitors, and closure of the facility would result in a reduction of fees collected as well as affect scheduled events and standing agreements with tourism companies
• State and federal data reporting, including statewide assessment results; implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); and Alaska’s Education Challenge timelines would be negatively affected
Alaska National Guard members will continue their duties as normal. Some state personnel may stay on duty to provide required services, but most will likely be laid off.
In a disaster, essential personnel will be called in and funded through the Alaska Disaster Relief Fund.
Services that may cease:
• Disaster mitigation and preparation activities
• Recovery grants for disaster-affected individuals and communities
• Professional assistance to 75,000 veterans and 120,000 family members in negotiating the process to claim veterans benefits
• DMV offices statewide, along with Business Partners and Commission Agents who deliver DMV services such as driver’s licenses, commercial vehicle road tests, and registrations
• Procurement services such as vendor purchasing directly impact small businesses that rely on an estimated $1.7 million daily in state contracts
• Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) offices statewide provide oversight on elected officials and lobbyists
• Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) inspectors, engineers, and other staff support industry work
• Violent Crimes Compensation Board provides payments to victims of crime for recovery services
• Alaska Public Broadcasting grant funding supports public radio and television services
• Lease payments to private businesses for hundreds of state leases
• Administrative appeals for issues such as child support, Medicaid and public assistance benefits, substantiation of child abuse and neglect, and other cases
• Processing of retirement applications and delivery of retirement payments
• State Services: Bargaining of labor contracts, including marine highway employee contracts currently under negotiation
• State Services: Human resources services including training and recruitment assistance
• State Services: Centralized mail services
• State Services: Maintenance and management of state-owned buildings, parking lots, and other facilities
• State Services: Accounting and other financial services, including required public reporting
• Enterprise technology services such as IT support and telecommunications
A government shutdown would coincide with the peak of the Bristol Bay sockeye season, which is usually around July 4.
Services that could be affected:
• Salmon escapement goal analysis and data collection
• Managing allocations set by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council
• Issuing subsistence and drawing hunting permits
• Hatchery broodstock collection
• Prevention of, and response to, encounters with wildlife such as moose, bears or musk ox.
• Issuing or amending Title 16 permits from the Division of Habitat, which could delay or halt many projects
• Responding to emergency resource conservation situations
• Timely release of the 2017-2018 proposal books
• Timely meetings to inform the public to engage and participate in the regulatory process
• Operation of state shooting ranges
• Operation of McNeil River and Round Island wildlife viewing areas
Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers would continue to enforce laws and respond to emergency calls, but the department says it does not fully know how a reduction in support services would affect some services provided by the Department of Public Safety.
• Plan Examiners for building and construction, the Office of Rural Fire Protection, and the Training Bureau could potentially be affected.
• Alaska Fire Standards Council provides fire training and certifications across the state.
• Alaska Police Standards Council could suffer severe backlog of law enforcement officer approvals that would directly affect upcoming scheduled training academies.
• Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault could see delays in the ability to complete FY2018 grant award processes to mostly nonprofit organizations, which could potentially hinder victim service program operations.
• State Crime Detection Laboratory will determine sufficient staff to retain high-profile/high priority analysis. However, the backlog of requests for analysis could potentially grow. Delivery of results could be greatly delayed. This could also significantly affect court cases where analysts are needed for testimony. Furthermore, training provided for breath-alcohol operation and evidence and sexual assault kit collection could potentially be impacted.
• Statewide Information Technology Services provide critical support programs to all of DPS, including law enforcement. An extended shutdown could prove crippling to the IT support of DPS and cause auditing to fall out of regulatory compliance.
• Additional items that may be affected within DPS are the Sex Offender Registry, as well as the ability to obtain background checks necessary for employment, concealed handgun permits, and security guard licenses could all be directly affected by even a partial government shutdown.
• Fiscal instability may also hurt DPS’ ability to attract and retain qualified applicants for troopers and other essential personnel.
Services that could be delayed or shut down:
• Marriage and birth certificates issued by the Bureau of Vital Statistics
• Investigation of all but the most serious reports of abuse in state licensed residential and healthcare facilities
• Assuring follow-up of abnormal newborn health screenings
• Support for the state’s opioid crisis response
• Services provided through private organizations and businesses that receive DHSS grant funding
• Residential and health facility licensing
• Analyses of federal healthcare legislation and federal budget proposal impacts in Alaska
• Resolution of labor disputes and elections
• Workers’ compensation adjudications and appeals
• Resolution of wage and hour violations
• Lack of employment and training grants and services
• Closure of Alaska Vocational Technical Center
• Mechanical inspections and work site inspections
Some services that will continue because they are vital to life, health and safety, are some services by the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. to oversee public housing units, processing of child support payments, and the Ombudsman’s office on emergent medical and care issues. The Department says it would also continue minimal functions to preserve the state’s financial assets like those managed by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. and the Alaska Retirement Management Board.
Services likely halted during a shutdown:
• The Permanent Fund Dividend Division – Dividend application processing and review will cease, as eligibility technicians will not be available to work with applicants. Depending on the length of a shutdown, the dividend payment timeline may be delayed for 2017.
• The Child Support Services Division - All new and active child support casework will likely cease. Customer service centers will likely be closed and unable to address phone questions or respond to written correspondence. While limited services will be maintained to collect and process payments for custodial parents, the division will be unable to accept in-person cash payments.
• The Tax Division – Pending system availability electronic tax payments will be accepted into state accounts, however there may be no staff available for processing those electronic deposits or handling of cash deposits. Auditing of taxes related to Oil & Gas, Corporate Income, Alcohol, Fisheries, Charitable Gaming, Tobacco, and others will likely cease. New tax licensing and processing for mining, alcohol, tobacco, fisheries, and charitable gaming would not be available. In the event of a prolonged shutdown, the division will be unable to issue cigarette tax stamps or pull tabs and those items could not legally be sold.
• Criminal Investigations Unit – Current investigations into suspected PFD and Tax fraud would be suspended.
• Unclaimed Property - All services will cease. The public will be unable to access information regarding suspected missing money or property that they may be entitled to.
• Alaska Marine Highway System: There are 10 AMHS vessels that provide passenger service to 35 communities. Residents in these communities may not be able to travel and receive needed groceries and supplies. A variety of industries that rely on AMHS services, such as fishing, could also be impacted.
• Construction: This year, there are almost $1 billion in construction contracts in 45 communities across the state managed by ADOT&PF staff. Without staff, the state could lose millions in federal funding and construction activities will stop. Any delays could potentially result in damage claims from contractors as state construction companies will cease work, putting thousands of Alaskans out of work.
• Whittier Tunnel: The longest combined vehicle-railroad tunnel in North America provides access to Whittier, Alaska. In 2015, approximately 240,000 vehicles traveled through the tunnel.
• Planning and Design: ADOT&PF planning section is responsible for identifying and designing future road, airport and ferry facility projects. Without continued design work, millions of future federal funding could be at risk. Approximately 55 percent of planning and design functions are contracted out to private companies across Alaska. Without staff this work could not continue.
• Weights and Measures: Responsible for ensuring fairness in the marketplace by certifying the accuracy of weighing and measuring devices used in commerce. An interruption in these services could impact commerce across the state.
• Road Maintenance and Operations: Crews could potentially not complete bridge maintenance, remove brush, repair potholes and rutting, road striping and crack sealing on over 5,600 miles of state-maintained highway.
• Aviation Leasing: Responsible for leasing property at rural state-owned airports to private businesses. Leases would not be renewed, potentially causing businesses to close.
• Public Facilities: Responsible for operating and maintaining 720 public facilities throughout the state. All contracted work could stop and buildings would not receive regular maintenance. This could result in costly repairs that are preventable.
• No new investments will be pursued during a shut-down
Department of Corrections Commissioner Dean Williams spoke about the potential cuts Thursday. You can read his comments
• Victim services
• Oversight of centralized electronic monitoring program
• Institutional and domestic violence programming
• Institutional education and vocational programming
• Institutional and community substance abuse treatment programming
• Institutional and community recidivism reduction programming
• Institutional and community re-entry services and support
• Institutional chaplaincy programming
• Inmate population research projects
• Security and maintenance of the Palmer Correctional Center, which closed as a prison at the end of 2016
• Transitional housing efforts
• System and automated system development for pre-trial, electronic health records and Alaska Corrections Offender Management System
• Timely responses to Americans with Disabilities Act complaints and grievances
• Timely responses to public complaints and requests from the Alaska State Human Rights Commission, Ombudsman, American Civil Liberties Union, legislature and media
• Responses to constituents’ requests for assistance and proclamations
• Human Rights Commission investigations into human rights complaints
• Authentication of signatures for Alaska companies doing business in foreign countries
• Authentication certification of paperwork for Alaskans hoping to adopt children from other countries
• Authentication paperwork to return the bodies of foreign nationals who die in Alaska