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Alaska judge declines to block virus aid to businesses

Last Updated Jul 10, 2020 at 5:28 pm EDT

JUNEAU, Alaska — A state court judge Friday denied a request by a Juneau man to block distribution of federal coronavirus relief aid under a reinterpretation of program rules by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration.

Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg, in a written ruling, said Eric Forrer had not shown a “clear probability of success” on the merits in his underlying case. Even if Forrer had, Pallenberg wrote he would not have blocked disbursement of funds.

“The current situation is too grave, and the needs of Alaskans too great in the present emergency, for this court to stand in the way of the distribution of these federal funds to those who need them,” he said.

The state designated $290 million of the more than $1 billion it received in federal coronavirus relief aid toward a small business program. The program was proposed by the Dunleavy administration and ratified by lawmakers and included language saying businesses that secured federal funds directly available to them under a federal relief law would not qualify.

Forrer, who argued the ratification process itself was problematic as part of his underlying case, sought to have blocked spending that did not adhere to the “express terms” lawmakers ratified. Pallenberg declined to do so.

Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press

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