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Alaska News Roundup for October 5

  • 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.

TERRA

 

  • 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.
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  • 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.

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.
  • In that’s awesome news: KUAC-FM and the Daily News Miner are joining forces to get Interior Alaskans more and higher quality news in the form of a weekday newscast on KUAC with the Miner’s Tom Hewitt.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski was this year’s recipient of the Alice Awards (an award named after a kick@ss Suffragette and reserved only for other trailblazers) along with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

Murkowski

 

  • The fight over Pebble Mine and the tasty seafood it could endanger is mentioned in a food critique column in Pennsylvania’s Centre Daily Times.
  • 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!

giphy-1 copy

 

  • 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.

Herz Tweet

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Alaska News Roundup for September 30

  • 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.
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  • 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.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 28

  • 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.
CEO

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.
Socks

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.

    2016

    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.

    help group

    Image Credit of Intelexit

  • 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.

    planned parenthood

    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 candidates@kucb.org.
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Alaska News Roundup for September 25

  • We are officially going into Special Session 3.0! This surprised the Alaska House Majority, made the Senate Minority giddy 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.lng

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Alaska News Roundup for September 24

  • 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.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 21

  • 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!!

    Kennedy & Walkers

    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.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 14

  • 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.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 11

 

  • The Fairbanks News Miner sheds some interesting light on the Denali Borough as the home to the state’s oldest population with 1/3 of the population ranging from 50-69 years old compared to just 9% of the state’s entire population.
  • Another OUTSIDE law firm will be receiving money from the legislature, this time at a cap of $350,000 to study Medicaid expansion and reform. The Dispatch reports that the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee has hired Virginia-based The Menges Group.
  • The Alaska Republican Party’s Vice Chair, Frank McQueary, wrote an op-ed in The Hill where he explains what Obama missed during his trip to the Last Frontier.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 10

  • Congratulations to Nathan Wallace on his appointment by the Palmer City Council as their new City Manager! The Frontiersman attended the public Meet & Greet and painted a pleasant picture of the evening and camaraderie between Wallace and council members.

    Nathan Wallace

    Photo Credit of the Frontiersman

  • Don’t get too excited about the mondo money heading into the state coffers from the LNG pipeline so sayeth the State Legislative Joint Resources committee via KTVA. While the Peninsula Clarion explains that the reason for the delay is to give the stakeholders (i.e. Alaskans) a better investment by reformulating the pipe diameter and also paying a whopping $100,000 a month to an OUTSIDE consultancy.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski is getting major props for her work on two pieces of legislation. One bill permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the other concerns the Voting Rights Act Restoration.

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Alaska News Roundup for September 3

  • There is something very special about this picture by Andrew Harnik if several of my little birds have emailed it to me with their own individual take.Obama vs. fish

“The symbolism of man’s effect on the planet is right there”

“At least it wasn’t on a blue dress.”

“Even Alaska’s fish love Obama”

“I wish I had been that fish so I could’ve peed on his boots to.”

 

  • The LA Times gives an Outsider’s view of the president’s trip to Alaska. Complete with rebuke (fair/unfair?) toward the Alaska GOP’s twitter feed, the shock that Pebble Mine could even be a possibility, and a tidy wrap-up invoking previous presidential visits.
  • If Pebble Mine wasn’t on Pres. Obama’s environmental radar before his visit to Alaska, it is now! Reuters admits that while he did not directly address the controversial mine issue during his tour of Dillingham…he did say, “There are other threats [other than climate change] to this environment that we’ve always got to be alert to.”
  • Get out your popcorn and a non-work electronic devise to read this Anchorage Press retelling of their experience covering the GLACIER conference. Warning: the excitement is infectious and the language can be rather blue. Enjoy!

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Alaska News Roundup for August 28

  • The Anchorage Superior Court room was packed yesterday to hear the oral arguments over the Legislative Council’s lawsuit against Gov. Bill Walker’s executive powers to expand Medicaid. Everyone was there, that is, as APRN pointed out…except the Outside lawyers representing the Legislative Council. They deigned to SKYPE into the hearing from their spacious offices in Washington, D.C.
  • Downtown Anchorage is going to be experiencing major road closures during President Obama’s visit to our largest city. The Dispatch has all the details of where and when the closures take affect, who’s affected and alternative routes…but generally speaking stay away from downtown Monday. Take a sick day, play hooky and bask in the glow that is this historic presidential visit.

    anc map

    Image Credit of the Dispatch

  • Think again about getting any juicy details about President Obama’s upcoming visit to Seward because as the Seward City News (and your humble blogger) found out…city officials are NOT sharing.

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Alaska News Roundup for August 27

  • Get those champagne glasses ready because APRN has cheer worthy news! The Alaska wage gap between genders is on its way out with YWCA anticipating equal pay for equal work by 2025!giphy-4

 

  • Secretary of State John Kerry will be touching down on Alaska soil on August 30th, per the Seward City News!
  • Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and Rep. Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) both gave a Twitter shout-out to the awesomeness that is strong women with the right to vote (both in the ballot box and on the legislative floor) to commemorate the 19th Amendment.exportmillett

 

  • Sen. Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage) is going to have heavy competition going into the 2016 election season. Just with the August primary she will once again face Jeff “I’ve never met a speedo I didn’t rock” Landfield but also former Anchorage School Board member Natasha Von Imhof! Whoever wins the GOP primary for District L; they will face the Democratic force that is Forrest McDonald.

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Alaska News Roundup for August 12

  •  There are THREE new candidates for the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly races!! Mayor Merrill Sanford has filed for another term, while both Robert Percival AND Jason Puckett are running against incumbent Assemblyman Jerry Nankervis for the District 2 seat.
  • In ewww, but totally awesome news: Wired gives an update on the human poo àdrinking water and electricity machine that was designed as part of The Gates Foundation Reinvent the Toilet Challenge. Turns out that with the two school bus size machines work to produce water that is indistinguishable from traditional tap water. Might be something of interest for our Honey Bucket/off the electric grid villages in Alaska to investigate since it is already in use in Senegal to great success.
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  • The pot tax percentage is quickly becoming a hot topic with the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly as the question of whether it should be 5% or 8% is now being given its own special meeting set for August 20, per the Fairbank News Miner.
  • Oil prices are now at their lowest level in more than 6 years with $43.08 a barrel, per CNBC.oil

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Alaska News Roundup for May 21

  • Tensions have escalated between the US Navy and Cordova over the Navy’s intent to use bombs, potentially toxic waste, and high-power sonar during this summer’s exercises because of the potential for detrimental affect on procreating critical marine life. The Cordova Times reports that Sen. Lisa Murkowski will be sending a staffer to facilitate the problem on Memorial Day. As to the worry about exploding bombs, Sen. Murkowski said, “If there are fishermen in one area, they would move to another area.”
  • The Dispatch wonders if raiding the Permanent Fund is the solution to the senate and house majority’s inability to work for a budget solution.
  • Homer scientist, Martin Renner, lead a mapping project to discover where in Alaska oil spills would be the most detrimental to seabirds. The biggest surprises Renner shared with APRN were Unimak Pass and Sand Point.

    seabird-density

    Seabird Density Mapping Tool/Photo Credit of Shady Grove Oliver

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced a bill for six HEAVY icebreakers for the US Coast Guard.
  • Intercept and CBC News published documents that show the NSA had plans to hijack smart phone apps to further their spying program on US citizens with a project code-name of “IRRITANT HORN.”
  • Gov. Bill Walker’s now-former Director of Boards and Commissions resigned over the intended appointment of Bobbi Quintavell to the Alaska Board of Fisheries. The governor’s administration claims it never happened and that it was their intention all along to appoint Bob Mumford to the vacant seat. The Peninsula Clarion has the gossip and timeline.
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  • Alaska (and 30 other states) won a settlement against the three largest credit reporting agencies in the US over information reporting practices, level of data scrutiny of information provided by outside sources and timeliness on fixing incorrect information, per US News.
  • Matt Buxton with the Fairbanks News Miner offers his explanation of  the accounting dexterity being proposed by the house and senate majorities to raid the Permanent Fund.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan joined a group of bipartisan senators to denounce China’s construction on islands that are claimed by several other countries. He told The Hill, “as one the world’s key conduits of energy – nearly one-third of global crude oil and over half of global liquefied natural gas (LNG) passes through the South China Sea each year – it is imperative that this region remain peaceful and free of conflict.”
  • The Sitka School Board developed a working plan for FY17 with the hopes that the state legislature regains some “sanity” and figure things out, per KCAW.
  • The Fairbanks North Star Borough is expected to pass a resolution in support of selling FNG to the state, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • The NSA has authorized the steps to close down operations of its controversial program of spying on American citizens’ phone calls as The Hill reports that Congress is unlikely to reach a deal to maintain program funding.
  • APRN reports that the White House is planning on vetoing Rep. Don Young’s bill that would alter the Magnuson Stevens Act, which is up for renewal.
  • Obama talked about climate change and the lack of time there is to correct the levels of pollution during a speech to US Coast Guard Academy graduates. Politico relays what the president spoke about and how it was seen by some as hypocritical since this came about a week after he opened the Arctic Coast to offshore drilling.
  • The ACLU has come out against Anchorage’s proposed alcohol sales restriction claiming it is illegal under Alaska state law, Title 47.
  • Slate has an interesting article about Rhodiola rosea, possibly Alaska’s next cash crop.

    Cash Crop

    A different type of Green Rush?

 

  • Erin Merryn, the advocate behind Erin’s Law, is upset with the current language in Alaska’s version of the sexual abuse prevention bill and the Dispatch explains why, what changes have been made and by whom.
  • First Lady Donna Walker told the Juneau Empire her plans to bring Bridge Builders to Juneau.

 

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Lunch Break: AK’s Mixed Bag of Awesome for Women

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research just released their second set of reports from their seven part “Status of Women in the States” series.  The numbers are important indicators as to how half of the electorate is really doing within Alaska’s economic bubble.

The Great:  Alaska is #1 in the union when it comes to the percentage of women living above the poverty line (91%).  Oh yeah!Poverty level

 

The Good:  78% of women have health insurance.  This number is close to and/or the same as nearest neighboring states.  Health Insurance

 

The Bad:  33% of Alaskan women have a bachelor’s degree or higher (this number might seem low, but it is actually higher than any of the west coast states…really).  Remember, the national average of college degree holders (male and female) is 39.4% for ages 25-64 in 2012.  Bachelors Degree

 

The Ugly:  Alaska has a shockingly low 26% of woman-owned businesses.  Only seven states (five of which Alaska only beat by 1% point) have a smaller percentage of woman-owned businesses.Women Owned Business

 

The overall score is a solid B.  While this is respectable, we can do better.  North to the future is our state’s motto for a reason.Overall Score

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