This week on Capital Hill, expect more drama than an Italian opera…so sayeth The Hill. The House is expecting to officially decide on their new Speaker (i.e. Rep. Paul Ryan), deal with the November 3 debt limit deadline, add an additional financial Band-Aid to Highway funding, reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, and…FINISH THE CYBERSECURITY INFORMATION SHARING ACT (CISA) on Tuesday. Here is why you should be interested if you use Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and Google and why the digital security field is not amused with FB.
Congratulations to Tom Begich (now also known as the luckiest man in Alaska) on his betrothal to the always-engaging Sarah Sledge. One of my little birds told me that it was a quiet affair with only a few select friends and family in Anchorage.
It seems that not all is honkey-dory down in Bethel regarding the ABC board’s licensing of Bethel Spirits issue. The Tundra Drums reports that the October 22 meeting was hastily withdrawn and set for a yet to be determined date. The official reason given was that “necessary entities” were not given the obligatory 20 days notice. My little bird told me that there is MUCH more going on behind closed doors and this is expected to turn into a “big deal.”
While the House is off till next week, the ongoing saga over Who. Will. Be. The. Next. Speaker. Of. The. House. contines with Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) spokesperson playing coy and saying that there isn’t any anticipated news this week and to “Enjoy you Columbus Day”.
Take heart Interior Democrats! While the owners of your beloved Drinking Liberally hang-out have changed, Big Daddy’s will continue serving their delicious BBQ and libations with ease. From the Fairbanks News Miner’s take, it is simply a matter of new name on the door.
Today’s THE day in state legislative meets healthcare at the State Reform Health Policy Conference in Anchorage!! Everyone is going to be there. From one of the Big Three ( Valerie Davis of HSS (!)); to the battling of opinions on the state’s healthcare direction with Sen. John Coghill (R-North Pole), Sen. Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks), Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage) explaining their vision at the 1:45pm panel; and Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage), Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) sharing their vision. The biggest surprise of pre-event excitement from many of my little birds is regarding the 9:30am panel with Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer) to discuss reforming Medicaid. Lots of fans, he has.
Could the Permanent Fund Board garner a “Pope-like” figure or more likely a “PF Czar”? That is the latest question wafting out of every Alaskan’s favorite state entity, though the hunt for a regularExecutive Director is the main focus for the state with my little birds liking candidates Alexander Slivka and Angela Rodell the most out of the short list.
Congratulations Felix Wong and Stephen Bradford on their individual wins for a seat at the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly dais!
Kodiak Island Borough now officially can claim Kyle Crow, Mel Stephens and Dennis Symmons as part of their Assembly team.
Heads up Sen.Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) and Rep. Kurt Olson (R-Soldotna): the Kenai Peninsula Borough School districts has their official legislative marching orders for you and it’s all focused on protecting their access to funding. But that doesn’t mean individual input isn’t still being requested. There are lots of locations to be a part of the Oct. 15 budget development meeting.
Neither Mat-Su Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss nor his challenger Vern Halter is conceding the race until the vote count is finalized, per the Frontiersman.
Anchorage is in talks with Conoco Phillips to buy back some of their leases in the upper Cook Inlet for ML&P to control, though as APRN explains…”any purchase will have to first be approved by the [Anchorage] assembly.”
Photo Credit of APRN
Sen. Lisa Murkowski is beginning to see the light at the end of her hard-fought battle to lift the 40+ oil export ban with The Hill reporting that the White House has been making noises that point to a possible signature!
Palmer is one town that won’t be selling commercial pot as the town voted 318 to 266 to ban this particular economic sector from opening shop and paying taxes, per the Dispatch.
The Western Director and Senior Attorney for NRDC wrote an op-ed for Huffington Post where he made his case for why the recent independent study that found that the relationship between the EPA and anti-Pebblegroups was improper, was nothing more than a PR Stunt from a “cash-starved” Pebble Partnership.
Mayor-elect Karl Kassel is not wasting time in beginning his transition to full-on mayor. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that he is already taking applications for positions within his administration and has a basic idea of the changes he wants to make.
Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) is not one to let injury slow him down and that was evident last night at the latest UAA College Democrats meeting where he gave a “barn-burning” speech against the current oil tax structure.
Sen. Dan Sullivan is backing a new bill regarding illegal immigrants and Politico explains the legislation’s aim and who else is getting on the bandwagon.
Quinnipiac has just released their latest poll that shows of the 2016 swing state US Senate races, only Ohio’s Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) vs. Ted Strickland (D) is a toss-up, though Democratic challengers in Florida are gaining traction.
Rep. Don Youngtweeted his support on H.R. 538 that would give Alaska Natives the ability to utilize their lands without “heavy hand of federal government”.
Doyon, Limited is expanding their O&G exploration within the Nenana basin with plans to drill their 3rd exploratory well in the summer of 2016, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
APRN explains the state’s DNR decision on Alaskans’ rights over natural resource use and why PacRim Chuitna Coal is not amused.
While the numbers are still being finalized, it appears that yesterday may have shattered voting records for the past ten years in Fairbanks!
The Frontiersman has an excellent piece about Mat-Su Assembly candidate (and future powerhouse) Maria Serrano and her tenacious spirit that took her from simply a name on a ballot to a formidable challenger despite her 19 years.
In happy fun time news: the Juneau Empire reports that while the original partnership between the Vincent de Paul Society and GMD Development went belly-up with their plans to bring affordable housing to the capital city, there is still forward movement to ensure the project grows into fruition.
The fiscal pinch your wallet’s been feeling is indeed real. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development conducted a study on median incomes and discovered that Alaskans are making $4,000 less than they did in 1989. It gets worse as the YWCA Alaska explained in an interview with KTUU, 60% of low wage earners are women and of Alaskan families they make up 40% of the primary providers.
The Seward City News has the breakdown of the Seward/Lowell Point voting results. The Seward City Mayoral election went to Jean Bardarson and the three Seward City Council seats went to Sue McClure (!), David Squires, and Deborah Altermatt.
Alaska Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe is retiring next summer. Justice Fabe was the first female Chief Justice and has served the state since 1996. Her wisdom and devotion to our state will be a loss to our justice system.
In the Mat-Su, the results in the borough’s mayoral race are considered to be too close to call. Right now, Vern Halter is winning by 4,269 votes with incumbent Mayor Larry DeVilbiss accruing 4,090 votes. Rosemary Vavrin has 317. The Frontiersman reports that there are still 2,000+/- absentee, questioned and special needs votes to count.
Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) showed his support for now Fairbanks North Star BoroughMayor-elect Karl Kassel in an Instagram. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that Kassel won with 57% of the votes.
Juneau saw a major upset in their political status quo last night, as Mayor Merrill Sanford was beat by challenger Greg Fisk with a 66% Ouchie. True to both men’s diplomatic reputation, they shook hands after their race was called.
Photo Credit of the Juneau Empire
Fairbanks was full of voting fervor with the slightly contentious item of a 5%commercial pot sales taxbeing approved by a whopping 84% and the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly saw all three incumbents winning their reelection bids. Congrats Lance Roberts, Kathryn Dodge, and Van Lawrence!
The Kenai Borough Assemblyraces were won by Gary Knop (District 1), Brandii Holmdahl will replace term-limited Sue McClure’s seat for District 6, and Willy Dunne for District 9.
Nikiski was not having any of the law enforcement service area idea with a wide margin of rejection (541 against to 399 for), per the Peninsula Clarion.
KNOB reports that Nome will be getting a new mayor in Richard Beneville.
Bethel is ok (sort-of) with having a liquor store (57% yea votes), but was adamantly against having a bar (61% no votes). Over in the Assembly side of life, Mayor Rick Robb won re-election, as did Leif Albertson. They are joined by political newbies Nikki Hoffman and Alison Welch.
Over in Soldotna, the grocery tax initiativepassed with flying colors and the Soldotna City Council got back incumbent Paul Whitney (331 votes to Fred Sturman’s 218), while many feel the race between Linda Murphy (265 votes) and Dan Nelson (254) are too close to call.
The Wall Street Journal explains what the commissioned independent report on the relationship between the EPA and the anti-Pebble Mine groups means to the pending court case on this issue as well as what to expect going forward.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski is not amused with the changes the US Forest Service has made to the dock project at the Anan Wildlife Observatory near Wrangell and Ketchikan. KSTK explains the changes and why this once popular project has quickly lost its allure.
In when will the hit stop coming news: The Juneau Empire reports that the state will further cut the ferry schedule down by 32% or more specifically…four docked ferries.
In light of the fiscal crisis Alaska is facing, many legislators are calling for more budgetary cuts and setting the stage for a massive showdown for the upcoming regular Session. The Dispatch has the details on what they want to cut.
Over on Capital Hill, Senate Democrats are vowing to keep Net Neutrality waivers out of the federal government-funding bill that MUST BE PASSED by December 11, per The Hill.
A sure sign that 2016 will be unlike any previous presidential race, Gallup is pulling themselves from the presidential polling game and instead will be focusing their resources on better understanding how Americans feel about issues.
Here are some pictures of voter turnout from across the state:
This week in Congress, expect plenty of grandstanding, verbal fireworks, and hurt feelings over choosing the NEW GOP LEADERSHIP! Also on tap will be passing the annual defense bill and on Friday…the House will vote on lifting the export ban on crude oil (though The Hill doesn’t think it will pass).
Sen. Peter “perfectly dignified” Micciche (R-Soldotna) spoke to at a recent Kenai Peninsula Borough meeting in Moose Pass (yes, Assemblyperson Sue McClure was there!!) to discuss Capital Improvement requests. Know who else was there? The hard working Rick Smeriglio of Seward City News fame.
KTOO has the details on GCI’s TERRA project that is expanding the 21st century’s version of the printing press (our beloved Internet) to rural Alaska beginning throughout the YK Delta and Western Alaska region.
Alaska Political Leadership, please come to the white curtsey phone. Wired has some interesting news about how drones are now being used to hack wireless printers.
The Nome Common Council is in a tough position over a tugboat confiscation due to unpaid port fees of its previous owner. While the council approved the necessary $52,640 contract to demolish the eyesore, the amount is still too high for the City of Nome because the unexpected problem was not included in the budget, per the Nome Nugget.
Bernadette Wilson of Bernadette Live fame has new segment called “Rumor Has It” and my little bird tells me that a certain Anchorage-based News Station is so impressed with its buzz that they are interested in bringing her onboard.
Get the lowdown on Soldotna’s four city council candidates from the Peninsula Clarion. They also have information on their sole mayoral candidate, Pete Sprague.
$7,000,000,000.00 is the current expected amount it would cost the state to buyout TransCanada Corp…but could also see $400 million a year in additional revenue. It’s a complicated issue and thankfully the Juneau Empire explains both sides of matter.
The City of Ketchikan approved the license agreement between the City of Saxman and themselves for the use of the old Fire Station 1 by the renowned Saxman Carvers.
Ready all about where the Mat-Su Borough Assembly candidates stand on various issues in the Frontiersman.
Rep. Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) wrote an impassioned op-ed in the Dispatch over the upcoming Special Session 3.0 and how Gov. Bill Walker’s communication style is not of the two-way street variety.
The Nome Nugget gives an expansive critique over the differences (and there are many) between the various candidates running for office.
The Seward City News details last week’s Chamber of Commerce’s candidates forum for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Regular Municipal Election (say that five times fast) and what to expect from the individual candidates. While Kenai Assemblyperson Sue McClure’s (!) tenure is coming to a close due to term limits, she is running for City Council along with Deborah Altermatt and Councilmember Dave Squires.
Power has been restored in Fairbanks, just in time for tomorrow’s elections. That is great news, though voting by lantern would have made for awesome visuals…cold, miserable voting conditions…but awesome visuals none the less.
Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s 2016 budget reflects his New Era promise of more police and less waste with a $1.8 million lower budget than former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s 2015 version. APRN reports on the major takeaways.
One of my little birds told me that Les Gara (D-Anchorage) was seriously hurt at a local coffee shop. While this was not a case of a “Battle over Cronuts”, here’s to a speedy recovery!
Homer’s City Manager and City Council held a standing room only meeting over potential options for raising desperately needed funds. The Homer Tribune explains how the crowd took the ideas ranging from a seasonal sales tax, raiding the tax $ for roads and trails, to an increase in property taxes.
Meet the candidates vying for the two open seats on the North Slope Borough Assembly. They are from a wide-ranging background and their stance on issues is just as varied.
In that was quick news: Roselynn Cacy has become candidate #4 for the now open Senate District L seat Southwest Anchorage. This is expected to be old had for Casey as she ran for the seat back in 2012, but as the Dispatch reports, this time around she will first have win the Democratic primary against long-time campaigning Forrest McDonald. Jeff “I’ve never met a Speedo I couldn’t rock” Landfield and Natasha von Imhof have their own primary battle for the GOP bid before the final face-off in November 2016.
Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! The lucky coffee-drinking Juneau residents just got luckier with the announcement that Coppa, GonZo, and the Rookery are going to match discounted coffee prices to October 6th’s voter turnout. As the Juneau Empire reports that last year’s turnout was 29% and that would have meant 29 cents off a cuppa.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski might have come a long way baby as the ONLY Chairwoman of a full committee, but according to Politico…this is probably as far as the GOP will allow her (or any other GOP Congressional women) to ascend.
The Peninsula Clarion covered the latest Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Seat 1 candidate debate between incumbent Kelly Wolf, Gary Knopp, Robin Davis, and David Wartinbee.
In news that has stunned Alaskan political wonks, popular and beloved Northwest Arctic Borough Mayor Reggie Joule (and former legislator) has dropped out of his re-election race citing political fatigue, per the Arctic Sounder.
This week on THE HILL, it will be all about preventing a federal shutdown, dealing with more Iranian Nuclear Accord grandstanding, and passing the mondo spending bill.
There’s a new electrical bigwig in the Valley! His name is Michael Burke and he is the new Matanuska Telephone Association The Frontiersman has the skills and Burke’s Curriculum Vitae.
Photo Credit of MTA
Homer’s City Council candidates got a chance to distance themselves from their challenger by explaining to a packed Homer Public Library their stances on the budget, commercial cannabis, and much more. My little bird told me that candidate Donna Aderhold was the star of the evening with her “impressive knowledge about Homer and ease with the questions.”
Today will see an interesting meeting down at the Anchorage LIO where the 14-member Legislative Council will meet to determine if they are going to squander spend $450,000 to further their lawsuit against Gov.Bill Walker’s move to expand Medicaid.
Kind of like Crocs with Socks (yes, I’m looking at you Mr. Speaker), Alaska’s oil response plan is outdated and out of fashion. So, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation will be joining up with the US Coast Guard to bring the preparedness and response plan up to spec, per the Nome Nugget.
Photo Credit of Nathaniel Herz/Added “Funnies” Credit of Inside Alaska Politics
The Seward City News Kenai Peninsula Borough’s District 6 candidates: Kenn Carpenter and Brandii Holmdahl’s answers to the Senior Citizen Survey.
One of my little birds caught this article about Pebble Mine and how awesome Alaska Wild Salmon is in their local-wicked local news outlets.
Americans want more transparency in corporate political donations. That’s the takeaway from the recent Public Policy Polling poll on campaign finance with the big surprise on reforming the Federal Election Commission.
Image Credit of Public Policy Polling
In ouchie news: ExxonMobil’s CEO had terse words for Gov. Bill Walker in Oil Price in light of Special Session 3.0, “Alaska is their own worst enemy.”
Shell’s announcement that they are quitting Alaska’s offshore drilling was the Internet equivalent to a shot across the bow. Everybody (even all the way over in the UK) is reporting on this especially after the international headlines about the Paddle in Seattle and Obama’s high-profile trip to the Last Frontier.
Dept. of Labor Comm. Heidi Drygas landed Alaska a $2.5 million grant to help 600 disabled Alaskan youth find employment. Alaska was one of six to win the coveted grant.
Despite the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly’s best efforts, the Juneau Empire thinks that a tax-free condo association fees just aren’t in the cards.
Get your popcorn ready because the Fairbanks News Miner’s Jeff Richardson paints a masterpiece of two diametrically different Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly Seat A candidates Dennis Alexander and Incumbent Van Lawrence.
Wired has the skinny on a new support group that is launching an ad campaign geared toward helping surveillance agents (NSA and GCHQ in Gt. Britain) reconsider what they are doing and quit their jobs.
Soldotna is all about transparency and the Soldotna City Council got really, really happy about City Manager Mark Dixson’s plans to improve the city’s record keeping policies and procedures. The Peninsula Clarion explains the changes from the informal to the newly instituted formal rules.
Quinnipiac University just released their poll that found 69% of those polled DO NOT want to see the federal government shutdown over the issue of funding Planned Parenthood. Stricter Gun Control is still closely divided at 45 support/48 oppose.
Image Credit of Quinnipiac University
Live in Juneau and have an idea of how to save the state from our fiscal crisis? Well, then head on over to the Juneau Forum on Alaska’s Fiscal Future on Wednesday. The Juneau Empire has the details.
Mark your calendars for October 1 at 7:00pm for the Unalaska City Hall Candidates Forum on KUCB. Want your questions asked? Submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are officially going into Special Session 3.0! This surprised the Alaska House Majority, made the Senate Minoritygiddy as it’s being held in Juneau, and created concern within the Senate Majority. As for the House Minority…crickets.
The “Big Three” LNG Project producers have reached an agreement with the State of Alaska on property taxes. They will be paying the state $16.5 billion (yes, with a “B”) with $15.7 billion going toward PILT payments in lieu of technical taxes. The Peninsula Clarion has the details.
The state’s review of the LNG deal structure has found “serious challenges” to ensure maximum benefit to Alaskans. The 11-page report is well-written and worth a read, but so to is the amazing job by the Dispatch’s Alex DeMarban in explaining the information in laymen’s details.
The ire over Sen. Lesil McGuire’s (R-Anchorage) $6,500 Seattle Conference hotel bills is growing to such an extent that the former Lt. Governor candidate has revoked her staff’s ability to sign the senator’s name in future and have been verbally flogged via the Dispatch. Her staffers have personally repaid the state for their $450-a-night hotel stay. This issue is sure to come up on an increasing basis during her highly contentious 2016 primary battle.
Still a catchy tune
The Mexican Consulate, currently located in downtown Anchorage, might be leaving the state completely-but not without a fight from a quickly formed group that is urgently advocating to keep their doors open past November 1st. KTVA reports that so far 900 people have been signed to their petition and that the consulate’s closure will affect the 4,000+ Mexicans residing in Alaska.
Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River) shared the news that the Senate Majority was pleased with the message Gov. Bill Walker had about the PFD and the current fiscal situation the state faces.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly meets tonight to discuss the proposed commercial cannabis zoning ordinances and regulations. There will also be an opportunity for public testimony and fingers-crossed…a vote! The Fairbanks News Miner has the skinny on what Assemblymen Lance “Straight Shooter” Roberts, John Davies, Van Lawrence, and the ever-eloquent Assemblywoman Diane Hutchison are looking for in the ordinances. It promises to be an interesting hearing.
In oh, that’s wicked embarrassing news: Mat-Su Borough Assembly District 7 candidates Randall Kowalke and Doyle Holmes dirty laundry has been aired out by the Frontiersman. Turns out that a landlord-tenant dispute over a bad toilet, arsenic levels and claims of mismanagement devolved into “accusations over mental illness, sexual deviancy and damages totaling $420,000.” Then there came the slander suit. Get your popcorn ready for this juicy story.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s staff wants to make one thing clear: SHE DID NOT DUCK THE ABORTION VOTE. She just missed the highly contentious lose/lose vote due to prior Yom Kippur plans. Sen. Murkowski is Roman Catholic.
It’s official! If you are on a Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly service area board, what little power you had is no more and you’ve been relegated to simply “advise.”
This week on The Hill, it will be all about the Pope Francis love fest. The Senate will be taking up a ban on 20+ week abortion bill and the defunding of Planned Parenthood (which is expected to fail).
Hold the presses; Governor Bill Walker and First Lady Donna Walker met with Ambassador Caroline Kennedy while making inroads with potential Japanese LNG buyers!!
Photo Credit of Gov. Bill Walker’s FB
Taxes is not a “four-letter word” in Seward. That was the takeaway of the Seward City News after attending the 20+ public discussion about Alaska’s fiscial situation and potential remedies including bills proposed by Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer), Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), and Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage). One of my little birds noticed Sue McClure’s absence from “her kind of meeting.”
In potentially clap-worthy news: Southeast’s <3 for their ferries is legendary. Their Canadian neighbors feel the same. So much love for this mode of transportation has created an opportunity for Canadian based West Coast Launch to potentially begin once-a-week ferry runs in the winter and twice-a-week in the summer from Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Ketchikan beginning in the summer of 2016.
It’s here! The latest in the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assemblynews by the one and only Sue McClure!
Rep. Don Young will be among many high-level guests attending the Wolf Trap Ball this Saturday where the basic (i.e. the paupers’) ticket price begins at $750 all the way up to $50K for table sponsorship. This year’s theme tips their hat to ancient Rome in honor of the host: Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero. And yes…there will be a conga line.
Governor Bill Walker might not officially announce our PFD amount till Monday, but the New York Times kind of beat him to the punch with the announcement of record payments of more than $2,000 per recipient.
Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s might have been tirelessly working on getting federal-level assistance with the transboundary mine conflict, but as KCAW reports, the International Joint Commission will not be taking up the issue. This comes shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry declined a meeting with Mallott while he was visiting Alaska.
Despite the White House coming out against the 40+ year-old ban on oil exports, The Washington Post thinks the odds are looking more and more promising for Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s pet project by explaining what the average American needs to know how this would impact our economy.
Today is THE DAY for oral arguments between the Ketchikan Gateway Borough and the state over the constitutionality of municipalities being forced to pay toward their local public schools’ costs.
Hilcorp wants to lay pipe. Ok, more like they have asked DNR for permits to drill exploratory wells near Ninilchik, but my interpretation of the Fairbanks News Miner story is way funnier.
In good news/bad news: The good news is that the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the state’s justice system last Tuesday (yay!). The bad news is that the Pew Charitable Trust’s presentation during the hearing pointed to incarceration lengths as the reason for the state’s prison population explosion and not due to an increase in individual inmates, per APRN.
Grab your red bull and comfy chair because this week on THE HILL is going to be long and full of potential fireworks! The Hill explains that congress will be all about Planned Parenthood funding, the Iranian Nuclear Accord and monetary sanctions on frivolous
The Juneau Empire flexed their eloquence muscle in their latest editorial over the September 5th City and Borough of Juneau Assembly closed doors meeting over the fireweed field zoning issue. Their fury and contempt definitely make this worth a read!
In wicked awesome news: the USDA has approved grant money (Nunam Iqua, $112,800, Eek, $4.38 million; Kwethluk, $2.21 million and Akiachak, $6.38 million) for Y-K villages to improve rural water systems with not just pre-existing facilities, but training, technical assistance and development of future ones as well, per the Tundra Drums.