Letters to the Editor

Letter: COVID-19 aid

Recent letter writer John Jones claimed I voted to remove the $1,000 spring stimulus payment from the budget. That is far from the truth. In fact, I stood up on the Senate floor and voiced why I was voting to support a $1,300 spring relief payment. When the Senate compromised on a $1,000 spring relief payment, I was still an emphatic yes!

We are living in unprecedented times, with tens of thousands of Alaskans losing their jobs due to state and local mandates that intend to flatten the curve — and we are succeeding. In the final days of budget negotiations between the House and Senate conference committees (which I do not sit on), the committee agreed to focus more on targeted relief through unemployment insurance and protections for those who lost their jobs.

The Legislature took up the challenge, through a bipartisan effort, and passed legislation to provide targeted relief to Alaskans. Senate Bill 241 added protections for property owners and tenants that if they cannot pay their mortgage or rent because of the economic effect of COVID-19, they cannot be evicted, or their homes foreclosed. If Alaskans have trouble paying their utilities or car payments, they too are protected. The Legislature also expanded student loan forbearance until November 2020.

In House Bill 308, the Legislature increased unemployment benefits, waived some of the waiting periods and extended some of those benefits to those who are self-employed, freelancers, contractors and gig workers.

These relief efforts are providing direct and targeted relief to Alaskans right now in this time of need. I encourage you to take a look at our website,

www.aksenatedems.com, to find out more direct and targeted COVID-19 relief measures the federal and state legislators took to protect Alaskans.

— Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson

Anchorage

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