JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy plans to deliver his State of the State address remotely this year due to “complications” created by the COVID-19 pandemic, his office announced.
The speech is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, and Dunleavy will deliver it from his office in Anchorage, his office said in a statement.
Historically, governors deliver the annual speech in the House chamber to a joint session of the House and Senate in an event that is broadcast. Governors typically use their speech to highlight key pieces of their agenda.
Dunleavy’s office said the speech, his third as governor, would be streamed on his Facebook page and carried on a public affairs channel.
Some other governors are delivering their speeches remotely this year or in nontraditional ways, such as outdoors.
Senate President Peter Micciche said he supports Dunleavy’s decision given the House has not yet organized or elected a temporary speaker. But he said he believes lawmakers could meet safely in joint session, citing testing protocols for those in the Capitol and an ability to space out on the floor.
“Juneau’s the capital. If we’re going to be in the capital, we need to operate with some semblance of normalcy,” the Soldotna Republican said.
Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, a Bethel Democrat, in a statement said Dunleavy’s decision to hold a virtual address “sends the right message to Alaskans” and will protect the health of lawmakers and Capitol staff.