Judge dismisses Juneau man’s lawsuit over state coronavirus funds

ANCHORAGE (AP) — An Alaska judge dismissed a lawsuit that alleged the method by which the state dispersed its federal coronavirus funds was unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, brought by Juneau resident Eric Forrer, was filed after a legislative panel, instead of the Alaska State Legislature, approved an aid plan authored by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

The lawsuit threatened to hamper aid distribution when first filed, the Anchorage Daily News reported. In response, the entire Legislature reconvened to vote in favor of the plan in May.

The state has received roughly $1.5 billion from the federal government as a part of the program, $1.2 billion of which could be used freely at the state’s discretion.

Under the plan, about half of the $1.2 billion will go to cities and boroughs, a quarter will fund the health-care sector and the last quarter is geared toward small businesses.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg ruled Thursday in favor of the state after hearing opposing arguments. A written decision will soon follow. Pallenberg had previously declined to pause aid distributions while the lawsuit was pending.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.