Monthly Archives: January 2015

Col. Laurie Hummel (RET) to be Military & Veterans Affairs Commissioner

Col. Laurie Hummel (RET) has been tapped by Governor Bill Walker to be the new Commissioner of the Department of Veterans and Military Affairs.

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Col. Hummel is perhaps best known from her race against Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux for Anchorage House District 15.  It was by all accounts a close race (Rep. LeDoux won by 213 votes) due in part to Hummel’s vigor, tenacity, and well-executed campaign strategy.  Even her opponent expressed her respect for Laurie Hummel’s work ethic on Primary Night.  While Rep. LeDoux is the epitome of grace, such a compliment is telling of the quality of character Laurie Hummel will bring to the dysfunctional Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

After graduating West Point, Laurie Hummel served our country for 30 years in Army Intelligence before retiring with the rank of Colonel.  She later taught at West Point as a professor in their Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering upon receiving her doctorate in Alaska.

Her personal knowledge of military culture will go a long way toward fixing the many problems plaguing the Alaska National Guard and other areas that will now fall under her purview as Commissioner.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 30

  • ConocoPhillips has announced that they will be slowing down petroleum investment for their Greater Moose’s Tooth 1 project due to perceived issues with permitting and the current state of the oil market, according to APRN and the Enquirer Herald.
  • The U.S. economy grew a disappointing 2.6% in the forth quarter, per The Hill.
  • CIRI told the Dispatch that they were delaying the decision for additional Fire Island turbines, as there are currently no buyers for the anticipated extra power they would have generated.
  • Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) announced this morning that he would not be running for president. The New York Times was one of the first to break the news. CNBC views the scheduled dinner between Romney and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) later this evening as a possible sign that he will be supporting Christi’s candidacy.
  • The Washington Post’s Fact Checker studied Pres. Obama’s claim of 650,000 job gains from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The result: Four Pinocchio’s because the correct number per their calculations is zero, not 650,000.
  • The Fairbanks News Miner reports Gov. Bill Walker’s decision to appeal the education-funding lawsuit might have also unintentionally revealed the depth of dependency the governor has on the AG’s judgment.
  • The Senate passed the Keystone XL pipeline last night and it is headed to the House where The Hill expects it to quickly pass and to be on the president’s desk for the next level of Legislative Chicken.
  • The Alaska liquor industry is ramping up efforts to beat a 2015 Anchorage muni ballot measure that would create an alcohol tax, according to the Dispatch. It hasn’t reached the animosity level worthy of socks full of pennies, but this is the beginning of an interesting ground game.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 29

  • Bill Walker announced yesterday that the state has made the first step to purchase Fairbanks Natural Gas. The Fairbanks News Miner, the Dispatch and APRN all have their own take on the potential purchase.
  • The Final Keystone vote is expected to happen today with The Hill explaining how the votes are expected to land.
  • There is finally a bill that requires companies to meet basic data security standards regarding customers’ personal information. Added benefit is that it is bipartisan, per The Hill.
  • Shell plans to drill in Alaska’s Arctic waters this year, per the Dispatch. Though that hasn’t stopped many from expressing ire to the Fairbanks News Miner about Shell’s plans to moor their drilling fleet in Seattle during the winter.
  • President Obama’s seemingly erratic stance on oil is examined by Politico.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 28

  • The confirmation hearing of Loretta Lynch to be the next Attorney General kicks off today, which the Washington Post promises will be soap opera worthy drama. The Hill itemizes five things to look for during her very public interview, though the New York Times claims that the goal for Lynch will be to cast herself as a breath of fresh air and not as an Eric Holder 2.0.
  • It seems that marijuana is on every local Alaskan government’s mind. The Juneau Empire reports that the Juneau City and Borough Assembly discussed fines, regulations and the definition of ‘public use’. The Dispatch reports that the Anchorage Assembly has just made it illegal to publically consume marijuana while the Ketchikan Daily News reports that their fair city is gearing up for this issue. Over in the state capital, the Ex. Director of the ABC Board gave her presentation on possible statewide regulations including edibles, advertising, and extraction methods, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • CSPAN captured the moment Sen. Dan Sullivan gave his first speech on the U.S. Senate floor yesterday.
  • The second Keystone Pipeline marathon beings today in the Senate. The Hill outlines the 18 amendments scheduled to be voted on.
  • Nathaniel Herz with the Dispatch followed the proceedings of a bill by Rep. Mike Hawker (R-ANC) that would move the Watergate era legislator’s annual disclosure requirement to the end of the legislative session.Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 9.08.42 AM
  • Forbes chastises the President over ANWR proposal, uses a state size comparison map (!) that always makes Texans cringe.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 27

  • Obama has just announced that he would be designating “9.8 million acres of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas as off-limits to consideration for future O&G leasing”, per the White House Blog.
  • Yesterday the Alaska Delegation held a press conference about Pres. Obama’s proposed ANWR “Wilderness” classification. Politico covered the event and the delegation’s terse words for this unexpected move. Interestingly, the White House only seemed nonplus about what the only female member of the Alaska delegation had to say. Bloomberg and Politico has White House counselor John Podesta on the record as saying, “…we don’t think that the reaction that particularly [of] Senator Murkowski had to this announcement was warranted.”
  • While Pres. Obama is planning to close down parts of the Arctic to drilling, the reverse seems to be true for the Atlantic. The Hill and the Wall Street Journal explain where (Virginia and the Carolinas).
  • The Fairbanks News Miner has condensed the President’s ANWR proposal down to five bullet points.
  • PBS News Hour has the transcript and the segment of their debate being moderated by Judy Woodruff between Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell regarding ANWR.
  • President Obama’s approval rating is back to 50%, per the Washington Post.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 26

  • ANWR Outside! The White House blog explains the reasons behind Pres. Obama’s proposal to designate ANWR as Wilderness. The Christian Science Monitor explains how this move will be viewed by the GOP and the anticipated future relationship between the two. The Washington Post expressed our state’s political leadership succinctly with their headline: Alaska Republicans declare war. From an Alaskan perspective: Becky Bohrer with the AP.
  • ANWR Inside! KTVA, Gavel Alaska and KTUU all have video of yesterday’s ANWR press conference with Gov. Bill Walker. Fairbanks News Miner and the Dispatch have their own take on what Pres. Obama’s proposal means, but the fieriest verbiage can be found in Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s press release issued yesterday. Prepare for more pointed words as it was just announced that the Alaska delegation will be holding a press conference regarding ANWR today in the U.S. Senate Radio TV Gallery.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 23

  • The State of the Budget was a much more serious affair than Wednesday’s SOTS address (including a complete defunding of the Alaska Aerospace program). The news is grim with cuts to every perceivable department and agency. The Dispatch, the Juneau Empire, the Fairbanks News Miner and APRN.  This didn’t stop an amusing emoji generalization of the speech from circulating.

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  • The debate over the Keystone XL pipeline ended around midnight. Politico reports that many Democrats left calling foul and wringing their hands. The Hill explains that Keystone will be brought back for a vote next week.
  • Alaska, meet the new National Guard Investigator: Former Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins. The Juneau Empire, KTUU and APRN have information about Judge Collins and what her duties will entail.

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  • Dan Sullivan’s amendment to the Keystone XL pipeline bill caught the attention of TheDailyBeast. It is a humorous article about Sen. Sullivan’s effort to protect the town of Chicken from EPA officials carrying guns within the city-a direct link to the 2013 raid of the local mine. It must have been a slow news cycle for them.
  • The Alaska Journal of Commerce has an editorial about Gov. Bill Walker’s interest in Cook Inlet fisheries and the potential political aftershocks it could create.
  • In today’s Net Neutrality news, The Hill explains why congressional GOP are demanding that the FCC allow the public to view the proposed internet regulations before they are voted on and not after the Feb. 26 vote.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 22

  • Missed last night’s SOTS address? KTVA’s got you covered. Want to read the media’s take on the governor’s speech? The Dispatch, the Fairbanks News Miner, the Juneau Empire, and APRN all found something interesting to consider. But, the SOTS could be best summed up with this meme:

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  • Bill Walker will name the Special Investigator for the Alaska National Guard today.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has expressed serious consideration on having the senate vote on the Keystone XL pipeline this Friday. The Hill explains why a Friday vote has become a rare occurrence in recent years and what to expect when the vote occurs.
  • The House Majority has released their audio response to Gov. Bill Walker’s SOTU. The Senate Majority has the written version of what was said during their response.
  • The U.S./Canada dispute over steel for the $10-20 million Alaska Ferry Terminal project is over. ABC News reports that the state of Alaska has canceled the bid.
  • The latest development with Net Neutrality is covered by the New York Times and The Hill gives an overview of what this year has in store for Internet freedom.
  • The owners of the first Alaska mine, Platinum Creek Mine, ignored a federal summons to appear in court for felony charges for allegedly polluting a salmon stream. The Fairbanks News Miner has the backstory and what is likely to happen now via the judicial system.
  • The New York Times reports that Pres. Obama’s “new middle-class economics” agenda has caused ripple affects with the GOP’s stance on the wealth gap.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 21

  • KTVA and KTUU have the always-elegant Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan’s reactions to Pres. Obama’s SOTU address.
  • Get ready for some gavel bangin’ because the Alaska State Legislature is in session! Gavel Alaska, Greenwich Time, APRN, and the Fairbanks News Miner has an overview of the day full of yellow rose bedecked lapels. Even Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott got into the spirit of the event and tweeted a picture of the signing the Oath of Office-while mentioning a drought of cookies.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 20

  • Tonight’s Pres. Obama’s SOTU address and everybody’s money is on a cyber/technology-focused speech. The Hill has five things to look for what the Washington Post has an explanation as to what worked and didn’t work in his 2014 address. Politico has all of Pres. Obama’s SOTU addresses data crunched into graphs (!) that show his shifting priorities over his tenure.
  • Bill Walker outlined his priorities for the upcoming legislative session yesterday. Gov. Bill Walker made it clear to Becky Bohrer with the AP that nothing will be off the table in budget talks. While KTUU has the details on Gov. Bill Walker’s decision to stop the eminent domain process of the Knik Arm Bridge.
  • NBC and the Wall Street Journal conducted a joint poll of 800 adults to get a feel for how the country feels about the important topics at the moment. The Hill focused on the news that more people feel the U.S. is NOT in decline is at its highest point than in the past 25 years. While Politico spotted information that point to less than optimum enthusiasm by voters for Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.
  • APRN wonders if the Keystone pipeline is bad for Alaska and tweeted a CSPAN segment where Sen. Lisa Murkowski spoke in favor of the bill and amendments while on the Senate floor.
  • The GOP’s shifting views on net neutrality has become so dramatic in the past few weeks that the New York Times outlines the change in stance and what legislation is now being proposed.
  • Battle for the Internet has put together a scorecard where U.S. Congressional and Senatorial legislators stand with Net Neutrality. Right now, Sen. Murkowski is siding with the Cable Industry and Rep. Don Young is standing with Internet freedom. Dan Sullivan’s position is unknown.
  • Bill Walker told the Fairbanks News Miner that bringing Cook Inlet Gas to Fairbanks might be a viable plan.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 19

  • Martin Luther King Day has been a federal holiday since 1983. The Washington Post reviews the 26 members of Congress that voted on the landmark piece of legislation and that are still in office, how they voted and how Congress has changed since the early 80’s (with graphs!).
  • SF Gate has an idea of the topics the Alaska Legislature will scrutinize in 2015: budget, marijuana and Medicaid. Pretty safe bet that hits the mark.
  • Business Insider Australia has the CEO of Lukoil, Russia’s largest private O&G Company, on record saying that Brent crude oil could go as low as $25USD a barrel.
  • Dan Sullivan sat down with BreitBart to discuss why he believes keeping the option of sending U.S. ground troops to fight against ISIS on the negotiating table is a good idea.
  • Alexandra Gutierrez with APRN explains why the focus on budgetary issues might cause social legislation tot gather dust.
  • Huffington Post reported that the GOP has cut out the largest Spanish language network, Univision, from the Republican 2016 debates. The reason is unclear as this is the same demographic all the post 2012 presidential GOP funded studies indicated were instrumental in the re-election of Pres. Obama and is anticipated to have an even more important electorate power in 2016.
  • Paperwork is being filed regarding Buccaneer’s bankruptcy and the future of their former rigs, according to the Homer Tribune.
  • The FCC commissioner posted a Call-to-Action on his official blog for more transparency due to numerous objections to publicly release the text of items when they are being circulated internally, according to The Hill.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 16

  • Global currency is in turmoil from the most unlikely of sources: Switzerland. The Washington Post explains what the 17-39% increase of the Swiss franc within the last 24 hours means to international trade and the backstory of this unexpected move by the Swiss National Bank (SNB).
  • Bill Walker will be delivering two separate State of speeches next week, something that APRN noticed hasn’t been done since Gov. Frank Murkowski in 2006. The first will be the traditional State of the State and the following day will be a State of the Budget address. 360 North will be streaming the events live.
  • Mark your calendars because ConocoPhillips will be releasing their Q42014 results on January 29 and Seeking Alpha not only has a summary, but suggestions on what to keep in mind while combing through the spreadsheets.
  • KOIN reports that Shell Oil has been given permission to use the Port of Seattle as a winter port for their drilling rigs and barges.
  • The leaders of both the Alaska House and Senate announced their legislative goals for the upcoming session to focus on spending cuts and less on increasing revenue sources/amounts, according to the Dispatch.
  • APRN wonders if the continued decline in Brent crude prices will decrease interest in Arctic drilling.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Jan. 15

  • The Hill has the EPA’s first methane regulations explained.
  • CH2M Hill has canceled their original plans to sell their Alaska operations, according to the Dispatch.
  • Forbes has an op-ed from Brigham A. McCown explaining why the Alaska LNG pipeline still needs to become a reality and not just remain a pipedream.
  • The company that owns Alaska’s southeast Kensington gold mine has just acquired another mine in South Dakota. The Juneau Empire reports that SD mine was purchased for $105 million.
  • PBS has the latest on a poll that found that 2/3 of Americans want labeling of genetically modified ingredients (like, FrankenFish) on food packages.
  • Lisa Murkowski is a co-sponsor that would change the definition of “full-time” in the ACA from 30 hours to 40 hours, per the Fairbanks News Miner.

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