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Governor Signs Legislation Expanding Unemployment Benefits, Increasing Schools’ Internet Speeds

Mar 26, 2020 | COVID-19, Education, Government, News, Telecom & Tech

Governor Mike Dunleavy (left) during a COVID-19 press briefing on March 25.

Office of Governor Dunleavy

​Governor Mike Dunleavy signed House Bill 308 and Senate Bill 74—two major pieces of legislation providing for expanded unemployment benefits in light of the COVID-19 outbreak and doubling minimum internet speeds at Alaska’s schools.

House Bill 308 expands unemployment insurance benefits by waiving the one-week waiting period, increases the weekly benefit for dependents from $24 to $75 per week, and protects workers affected by COVID-19 and the associated health mandates. The legislation aligns with the emergency directives adopted by Governor Mike Dunleavy, and President Trump.

“Last week, I called for an aggressive expansion of unemployment benefits to help hardworking Alaskans suffering from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” says Governor Dunleavy. “This bill represents a big win for Alaska’s workers. I thank the Legislature for taking this important first step and look forward to enacting additional relief soon.”

“HB 308 gives my team in the unemployment division the needed tools to be flexible and to expedite much needed payment of benefits to impacted Alaskans,” says Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “Passage of this legislation was a collaborative effort.”

Senate Bill 74 impacts the educational experience for teachers and students in rural school districts that experience extremely high costs for internet. This legislation increases the minimum internet speed for all of Alaska’s schools from 10 megabits per second (Mbps) to 25 Mbps and will benefit 168 schools and 30 school districts.

“This legislation will greatly enhance the delivery and quality of education to Alaska’s students and expand access to affordable internet for schools,” said Governor Dunleavy. “I thank Senator Hoffman for his efforts in passing this invaluable legislation.”

“Senate Bill 74 is another demonstration of the Legislature’s and Governor Dunleavy’s commitment to rural Alaska,” said Department of Education and Early Development Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson. “A special thanks to Senator Hoffman for his tireless advocacy for students, particularly in rural schools. I also thank Governor Dunleavy for taking time to sign this bill so quickly as part of his effort to add additional support for students during our response to the COVID-19 crisis.”

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