FAIRBANKS, Alaska. (KTVF) While the legislative session is in recess due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are talking with legislators from our Interior Delegation about the session. For this segment, we spoke to Fairbanks Representative Adam Wool.
Fairbanks Representative Adam Wool speaks on the legislative session and what is next. (Sara Tewksbury/KTVF)
The Alaska State Legislature went into recess at the end of March, and Representative Wool came back to Fairbanks. He says he was in quarantine in his basement for two weeks after returning from Juneau.
Wool says while they have been back, they have been busy with, “A lot of meetings, a lot of community meetings, like with the hospital group and the borough, and Chamber of Commerce, Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation. We’ve had a lot of caucus meetings, we’ve had House Finance meetings, we had one yesterday in fact looking at the forecast of the state’s finances, with crashing oil and so on and so forth, so that was a little sobering. So we’ve actually been pretty busy, a lot of phone calls, a lot of zoom meetings -- it’s actually been a pretty busy time. Obviously there’s a lot going on,” said Wool.
Wool says the session recently passed day 90, which is when it's generally supposed to be over. “We finished at about day 70 due to COVID-19 and leaving Juneau quickly. I guess right know we are sort of on schedule; we passed a budget, and passed some COVID relief bills. There is a lot of smaller legislation that did not pass and some of it probably should have -- and some maybe is okay, but we got the big things done. Now I think we’re in a holding pattern to see what’s going to happen as far as a lot of the federal funding, what’s going to happen to it and where it’s going to go and what sort of authorities we have to disburse it,” said Wool.
He says there is talk about whether they are going to go back to Juneau or not. “There’s questions about how the federal funds are legally disbursed, whether there has already been funding in a certain department or agency, and then the federal funding can be added to that; but if there wasn’t already funding for that specific thing, then we have to create a new appropriation. So it’s likely that we have to appropriate some of the money that came in and [that] may require a bill and require us to vote on it. So in that case, we would go down and vote on it, and hopefully be really quick about it,” said Wool.
He says if they have to go down, he would prefer to have it be short. “I think there’s some people that maybe like being down there and having full on committee meetings and stay for a week or ten days, or two weeks. That wouldn’t be my preference. I would rather have a lot of this stuff worked out in advance,” said Wool.
Wool says he does not really want to be in Juneau right now, and is not sure where they are going to stay. “The House floor is a little too close so we would probably have to take another location so we could be a little further apart. We do not have apartments, we gave those up already. I would just rather be here, with my family. My kids are distance learning through the public school system, and my wife is working from home, so there’s a lot going on at my house and I’m helping my kids out and helping my wife out, so I would rather be here,” said Wool.
As some businesses in Fairbanks get ready to reopen Friday, Wool says it is great that Fairbanks has not had a case in several days. “We’ve been doing our part and following the rules, which is great. Our healthcare system and its leadership have done a great job, as well as the state -- I think the state has done a good job. Fairbanks has done some more testing than many communities have and that’s good, I wish we could do more. I think it’s okay to open some businesses, and open the faucet a little bit and see if the numbers go up. It will take a few weeks to see, because it takes a while for people to test positive, and show symptoms, etc. If after a few weeks, the numbers don’t go up and we don’t have a big rush of cases to the ER, I think that’ll be good,” said Wool.
Wool says he thinks this is the right approach to open businesses a little at a time to see how that process goes. "I just hope we can get out of this -- and not only the shelter in place and starting to work a little more and get together -- but I think the economy adjustment is going to be pretty extreme. I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom but I think the forecast is a little scary, and I think people have to get their head around that and what kind of adjustments it’s going to be for life in Alaska. Obviously there is short term and there is going to be long term, and I think we really have to start thinking about that,” said Wool.
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