Alaska News Roundup for May 15

  • My little birds tell me that Mayor-elect Ethan Berkowitz is on the mend from recent shoulder surgery. He is expected to be back in transition-mode next week!
  • State flags are at half mass today throughout Alaska in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day.
  • It’s not just Joe Miller that Sen. Lisa Murkowski might have to contend with during the Republican senatorial primary, but maybe state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Fairbanks) as well per Roll Call and my little birds. Former Sen. Mark Begich’s 2016 senatorial ambitions have remained elusive.
  • House Finance announced that the committee was blocking the Medicaid Expansion bill yesterday. APRN has Rep. Steve Thompson (R-Fairbanks) statement and Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), HSS Commissioner Valerie Davidson and Gov. Bill Walker’s responses.
  • Cordova is not amused with the Navy’s summer training exercise because of the planned use of bombs, sonar and the expected dumping of 352,000 lbs. of toxic materials during mating season for the area’s marine and migratory animals. KTUU has further details.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan and Sen. Lisa Murkowski are part of a short list of senators that sponsored a bill to delay the Positive Train Control, the technology system used to monitor trains and would likely have prevented the Amtrak derailment in Pennsylvania, that was supposed to be fully implemented by the end of 2015 after the passage of a 2008 law regarding PTC, per FirstLook.

  • Soldotna City Council is taking one step forward toward annexing neighboring territory by approving funding for a study on the costs of such a move, per the Peninsula Clarion.
  • The Mat-Su Borough Assembly approved adding about $1.4 million in education funding with an expected increase of mill rate of 10 mills. The Frontiersman explains what a mill is and how it turns into tax amounts.
  • UAF gets some love from the feds in the form of being named a “Center of Excellence” for their unmanned aircraft program (drones), according to APRN.
  • Pres. Obama is reeling from the criticism (including yesterday’s UN reproach) he has received since his administration gave Shell the “all clear” on Chukchi Sea offshore drilling. The Washington Examiner has his response. The gist of it is that Shell has made very high standards to “reduce potential [environmental] devastation”.
  • While Alaska has joined the so-called Green Rush, Politico explains what we still don’t scientifically know about cannabis.
  • The Homer Tribune has the details on the Homer City Council meeting on taxes and city revenues including the all important bed tax.
  • Amanda Bohman with the Fairbanks News Miner reports that the Fairbanks North Star Borough residents will be seeing an increase of $43 per $100,000 worth of property taxes as part of the Borough Assembly’s municipal spending plan that included adding an additional $5.5 million to public education.
  • The Wall Street Journal has an editorial about the perceived close relationship between the EPA and Anti-Pebble groups and how there has been a long history of this rapport between the federal department and environmental groups.
  • Last night saw the end of wolf hunting near Denali following an emergency order by the Alaska Department of fish and Game, per the Dispatch.
  • The Dallas Morning News has it on good authority that Former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) is going to announce his intention to run (again) for president on June 4. One man that has officially announced he isn’t joining the 2016 presidential death-match is former UN Ambassador John Bolton, per the New York Times.
  • Congress is continuing to press the FCC for more transparency in their rulings, structure, and discussions in meetings. The Hill has the details on the shortened backstory, who’s upset, what’s at state and why this is important.
  • The Dispatch was on hand during the Anchorage Assembly’s extended public testimony on the 4th Avenue Theatre and subsequent vote to allow developers access to future tax exemptions.
  • In cool technology news, GCI will be streaming several of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District’s graduation ceremonies next week, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
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