Seven Interior state candidates to participate in forum hosted by environmental, racial justice groups | Local News

Seven of the 16 candidates running for election to Interior seats in the Alaska Legislature will be participating in a Climate, Jobs and Justice political forum hosted by a group of Alaska environmental and social justice nonprofits and organizations tonight.

The forum will be held online from 5-7 p.m. and is hosted by Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition, The Alaska Center, Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition, Greater Fairbanks Chapter NAACP 1001, the Nanook Diversity & Action Center, Native Movement, Native Peoples Action and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawai’i.

The following candidates have confirmed plans to participate: 

House District 1 Democratic candidate Christopher Quist

House District 2 Democratic candidate Jeremiah Youmans

House District 4 Democratic Rep. Grier Hopkins

House District 5 Democratic Rep. Adam Wool

House District 6 Democratic candidate Julia Hnilicka;

House District 6 nonpartisan candidate Elijah Verhagen

Senate District B nonpartisan candidate Marna Sanford.

According to event organizers, an invite was sent to all candidates running for Interior seats in both the state House and state Senate. All seven Republican candidates and two nonpartisan candidates either declined to participate or did not respond to the invite for the forum, organizers said.

The forum will discuss issues ranging from climate action, workers advocacy, social and economic justice and healthcare access.

“The top priorities for the people of Alaska, including health care access, racial and economic justice, climate action, Alaska Native rights, and workers’ rights, don’t always get the attention they deserve. We’re excited to offer this nonpartisan forum to center these critical issues and expand the conversation with our community leaders,” said Rose O’Hara-Jolley of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawai’i on behalf of the organizers.

To ensure proper precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum will be held online via Zoom. 

Community members interested in participating can register in advance at

bit.ly/ClimateJobsJustice

StateForum.

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics. 

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Will Trump participate in the next two debates? The White House won’t commit.

There are two more presidential debates left before Election Day, but now, after the debacle of the first debate — 90 minutes dominated by insults, attacks and interruptions by President Trump — everything seems up in the air.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, whose members were frustrated that its marquee event was widely viewed as a failure, announced that it would propose a new format before Mr. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. meet for their second debate on Oct. 15.

That idea was immediately rejected by Mr. Trump’s campaign. “Joe Biden is trying to work the refs,” said Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for the Trump campaign. “They shouldn’t be moving the goal posts and changing the rules in the middle of the game.”

In 2016, Mr. Trump often used the threat of withdrawing from debates to inject an element of uncertainty into the process, especially when he was in a vulnerable position; He even floated the idea of a boycott in the run-up to this year’s election, citing his concerns about the commission’s fairness.

On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not respond directly when asked if Mr. Trump would commit to participating in the two remaining debates with Mr. Biden, regardless of the rule changes the commission might announce.

“He thinks the only way there’s a fair debate is a change in the moderator and a change in the Democrat nominee,” she said. “He wants to debate, he plans on being at the debate, but he wants the rules to be fair and wants a fair exchange and doesn’t want rules that cover for certain candidates’ inability to perform well.”

Things have been so unsettled that Mr. Biden’s aides felt compelled to respond to a wave of speculation that there would be no more debates, announcing that he was not backing out. Why should he? By every measure, Mr. Biden had a good enough night, and there’s little reason, Democrats said, for him to do anything that would make him look wavering and take the spotlight off a struggling Mr. Trump. What’s more, the next debate is a town hall event with voters, the kind of format that should play to Mr. Biden’s strengths.

But might Mr. Trump, who left the stage to withering debate reviews, decide this is just not worth it? Some Democrats suggested that was exactly the way to interpret the fast slapdown by the Trump campaign of the debate commission’s announcement that it was changing the rules.

“If you think that the president gained nothing but trouble from that so-called debate, it’s very easy to imagine him using the proposed rules change as an excuse to skip the last two debates,” said James P. Manley, who was a senior aide to Harry Reid, the former Democratic leader of the Senate.

Still, there are less than five weeks left until Election Day, Mr. Trump is trailing in many polls, and he is running out of opportunities — ideal or not — to

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U.S. House staff won’t participate in payroll tax deferral

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill on Aug. 13, 2020.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

The U.S. House of Representatives won’t be rolling out the payroll tax deferral to its employees.

Sept. 1 was the first day of President Donald Trump’s order deferring the 6.2% employees pay toward Social Security. The so-called holiday, which applies to workers whose biweekly pay is below $4,000, is in effect until the end of the year.

The tax delay is only a deferral and not forgiveness. Congress would need to pass legislation in order to forgive the taxes.

Though private employers are expected to shy away from adopting the deferral due to its complexity, the federal government will be extending it to its employees, including military service members.  

Employees of the House, however,  won’t be deferring their 6.2% share of Social Security taxes, according to an email to staffers from Philip Kiko, Chief Administrative Officer of the House.

The chief administrative officer handles a range of functions for House employees, including payroll administration and benefits.

“After reviewing the guidance and considering the unique structure of the House, the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, with the concurrence of the Committee on House Administration, has determined that implementing the deferral would not be in the best interests of the House or our employees,” Kiko wrote.

“As a result, we will not implement the payroll tax deferral.”

Avoiding a surprise

Employers affected by the payroll tax deferral have the burden of withholding and remitting those delayed taxes to the IRS next year.

The taxes will be withheld from workers’ paychecks ratably — or proportionally over time — from Jan. 1 through April 30, 2021.

For employees who participate, they’ll see a 6.2% boost to pay this fall, but their pay will dip early next year as their employers recoup the deferred taxes from their compensation.

This is among the reasons that employers might be chilly toward putting the payroll tax suspension into effect.

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Though employers could opt into deferral, whether employees can opt out is ultimately up to the company they work for.

Military service members, for example, won’t be able to drop out of the deferral if their wages meet the appropriate threshold, according to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service’s website. This entity provides payroll services for the Department of Defense.

The House decision to skip the deferral arrives on the heels of a push among lawmakers to allow federal employees to opt out of the tax holiday.

“While some federal employees may want to defer their payroll tax payments, unions representing federal workers have made clear that many others do not,” wrote Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., in a Sept. 8 letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Office of Management and

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