Gov. Mike Dunleavy

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced he plans to call a fourth special session.

The Covid-19 virus is at the center of a political dispute over whether the governor should declare a 30-day disaster in Alaska.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy, meanwhile, is pushing to enhance telemedicine and bring more nurses to the state.

And Alaska’s Permanent Fund outperforms benchmark expectations. There is more in “Five Things to Know.”

Governor’s Rx for Covid relief

Alaska would expand telemedicine and reduce barriers to license nurses, under legislation that Gov. Mike Dunleavy has introduced in special session.

The governor’s office described the legislation as strengthening the response to a surge in Covid-19 cases, which is affecting hospital capacity.

Telemedicine services enable Alaskans to receive health care remotely and without visiting a doctor’s office in person.

The governor also is advocating for Alaska to join more than 30 other states that are part of a multi-state nurse licensing  compact. The compact enables nurses licensed to practice in other states to practice in Alaska.

“The governor’s action adds those bills to the special session call, and they can be immediately taken up in the House and Senate Health and Social Services committees,” according to Dunleavy’s office.

Administration 'not subject to whims of 30-day proclamations’

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy will not declare a 30-day disaster in response to the Covid-19 caseload.

Dunleavy sent a letter to leaders in the Alaska Legislature, after calls by some lawmakers to declare a temporary emergency. (See Gov. Dunleavy's letter.)

“We are now approaching two years in an environment where the virus is circulating and impacting the world; the virus is now endemic, it is among us,” Dunleavy said in the  Sept. 3 letter to House Speaker Louise Stutes and Senate President Peter Micciche.

“Recognizing the reality of the virus, this administration is adapting and proposing changes that make the response to the challenge more durable, and not subject to the whims of 30-day proclamations or health orders,” Dunleavy said, noting his proposals to increase telemedicine and bring more nurses to the state.

The House Majority Coalition is pushing for the governor to declare a temporary disaster because of an increase in Covid cases and a shortage of hospital workers.

House Speaker Louise Stutes, a member of the House Majority Coalition, said in a prepared statement: “There should be no ambiguity for what our hospitals need as they deal with this surge of Covid-19 patients, which is pushing the extremely fragile healthcare system in Alaska toward collapse.”

Permanent Fund performance

The Alaska Permanent Fund returned a net of nearly 30% for fiscal 2021, according to Pensions and Investments, a news site for the investment community.

“The $81.8 billion sovereign wealth fund’s return exceeded its performance benchmark return of 27.8% for the period,” Pensions and Investments reported.

As of June 30, the fund’s allocation was:

• 38.1% public equities

• 20.5% fixed income

• 18.2% private equity and special opportunities

• 7.3% private income and infrastructure

• 6.8% real estate

• 5.6% absolute return

• 2.5% cash, and

• 1% risk parity.

GOP states lead with wealth funds

America has 21 domestic sovereign wealth funds managed by 20 states, with oil-rich Texas having two funds.

The National Interest reports that most states with domestic sovereign wealth funds are “solidly Republican.”

States with sovereign wealth funds most often use the earnings to fund education systems and state government services.

Alaska was listed No. 1 among the top 5 performing funds managed by U.S. states, according to the National Interest. The state rankings are:

1.) Alaska Permanent Fund

2.) Texas Permanent School Fund

3.) Texas Public University Fund

4.) New Mexico State Investment Council Investment Fund

5.) Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund

The Alaska Permanent Fund also ranked No. 18 on the global Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Index.

The index tracks wealth funds, pensions, endowments and asset owners worldwide. Norway has the largest sovereign wealth fund, valued at $1.3 trillion.

New DOT commissioner has Fairbanks ties

A Fairbanks resident will lead the state department where he has worked for two decades.

Ryan Anderson has been named the new Department of Transportation commissioner by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Anderson fills a post most recently held by John MacKinnon, who led the DOT since 2018.

Anderson “is widely respected across northern Alaska for cultivating positive relationships with all impacted stakeholders while completing vital public transportation projects on time and within budget,” Dunleavy said.

Anderson previously was the DOT’s northern region director. He oversaw design, construction, maintenance and operations of a transportation system serving communities from the Gulf of Alaska to the Arctic Ocean, and from the Bering Sea to the Canadian border.

He holds a bachelor of science degree in geological engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Anderson lives in Fairbanks with his wife and two children.

Contact Linda F. Hersey at 907-459-7575 or lhersey@newsminer.com. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.