In these unprecedented times, I am proud to be an Alaskan. As our state continues to take precautions to prevent an uncontrolled spread of COVID-19, I am bolstered by our community’s response and determination to support each other.

Let me take this moment to talk about what is happening in the Legislature and what I anticipate happening as we continue to monitor and prepare.

My colleagues and I are committed to completing the essential work of the legislature. This means passing operating, capital, and supplemental budgets that fund critical social safety nets and ensures resources are available when Alaskans need them.

We are also working through critical pieces of legislation, to keep government operational, vet board and commission appointees, and to protect government’s essential services. Over the next several days, I anticipate several pieces of legislation to bolster up the nonprofit and private sectors of our economy and shield those industries, individuals, and employees that may be most hard hit from the economic slowdown and COVID-19.

You might have heard that the Capitol building has limited in-person public access. This decision was not taken lightly and was made in the best interest of all Alaskans’ health. Public input and testimony is critical to the legislative process, and we encourage you to continue to provide input. Below are the phone numbers, committee emails, and online forms you may use to provide your testimony. Again, I encourage you to stay engaged and get your voice heard. 

I also want to take this moment to recognize the impact that recent decisions to close bars, restaurants, and public meeting spaces will have on our community. As a musician, I know what it's like to rely on tips. As a friend to many business owners, I know how razor thin the margins to operate can be. As an Alaskan, I know we take care of each other.

While we develop a comprehensive relief package, I encourage you to support your favorite Alaskan musicians, Anchorage businesses, and service industry by giving to an artist's virtual tip jar, buying their music online, or tip a little more when you order pick up or take out.

Alaskans look out for each other. In times like this, we pay it forward.
All my best,
Senator Tom Begich
Senate District J
Alaska State Legislature & COVID-19
The Alaska Legislature is working fast to address current COVID-19 impacts. Last week we passed HB 206 that allocated $4 million to DHSS for COVID-19 preparedness and HB 29 that mandates insurance coverage of telehealth services. Today, the Senate passed HB 234, providing an additional $33.5 million to provide additional relief for COVID-19.
The legislature will continue to work towards additional supplemental allocations as well as changes to SNAP, unemployment insurance, and other support programs to ensure that Alaskans can continue to land on their feet.
U.S. Congress & COVID-19
Earlier this week, the US House of Representatives passed a comprehensive Coronavirus Economic Package. This bill is supported by the President and the US Senate is preparing to vote on the legislation. This bill includes:

  • Economic guarantee sick leave for workers and their families affected by the coronavirus
  • Bolster food aid for needy families and seniors
  • Inject funds into state unemployment coffers
  • Guarantee free testing for people suspected of being infected
  • For a summary of the bill, please visit the US House website
Public Input and Testimony
Until further notice, all public testimony must be via telephone or in writing. Alaskans are be able to participate fully in the public process by following along on Gavel Alaska,, and through written and telephonic testimony.

Written testimony subject matters may be submitted to:

Folks can also call in from their respective locations:

  • For folks in the Anchorage area, dial: 907-563-9085
  • For folks in the Juneau area, dial: 907-586-9085
  • For all other locations, dial: 844-586-9085
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are going through a rough time and some people are facing uncertainty. But that’s not us. We’re Alaskans and can weather the storms even as we help our neighbors. As we are now mostly stuck avoiding others, I’d like to share this poem from a slightly different perspective about dealing with our time apart.

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love--
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
Lynn Ungar 

Protect your health so that you may protect your neighbors. 

Wishing you all good health,
Kayla Epstein

Contact Me!
(907) 465-3704 (Juneau // session)
(907) 269-0169 (Anchorage // interim)