Shell’s Arctic icebreaker returns to Alaska

first_imgAleutians | Arctic | Economy | Energy & Mining | EnvironmentShell’s Arctic icebreaker returns to AlaskaAugust 5, 2015 by John Ryan, KUCB Share:The Fennica approaches the Delta Western Fuel dock in Alaska’s Dutch Harbor on Tuesday. (Photo by John Ryan/KUCB)Shell’s Fennica icebreaker has returned to Alaska.It docked at Dutch Harbor Tuesday evening after enduring repairs and protests in Portland, Oregon.Shell began drilling the top of a well in the Chukchi Sea last week, but it does not have federal permission from the U.S. Interior Department to drill into oil-bearing rocks unless the Fennica is on site.Shell’s bright yellow well-capping stack sits on the stern of the Fennica. It’s to be used in case a well blows out and other spill-prevention methods fail.“Once the Fennica is in theater [in the vicinity of the Chukchi Sea drill sites], then we’ll engage in discussions with the regulator about that permit,” Shell spokeswoman Megan Baldino said.The drill sites are more than 1,000 miles north of Dutch Harbor, the nearest deepwater port.The Fennica went to Portland’s Vigor shipyard after tearing a three-foot gash in its hull on an uncharted rock in Alaska’s Dutch Harbor on July 3. The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the incident.Greenpeace activists suspended from a bridge across Portland’s Willamette River and climate-change activists paddling kayaks in the river managed to delay the Fennica’s departure from the shipyard by about 36 hours.Shell has until the last week of September to finish its drilling for this year.Share this story:last_img read more

Bethel opens housing to retain city workers

first_imgHousing | Local Government | SouthwestBethel opens housing to retain city workersDecember 9, 2015 by Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK – Bethel Share:The Willow Place Apartments entryway. (Photo by Dean Swope /KYUK)Jobs in rural Alaska are often seen as a career stepping stone. Professionals take a job for a year, maybe two, and leave. They take career skills and experience with them rather than reinvesting in the community. The high turnover rate prevents institutional knowledge from accumulating and community trust in its professionals from strengthening.How to break the cycle and retain workers is one of rural Alaska’s most vexing puzzles. The community of Bethel thinks it’s got one piece figured out.The view outside a Willow Place apartment window. (Photo by Dean Swope/KYUK)Walking into the room, the first thing I notice is the view — a fringe of willows and then miles of snowy tundra. The window belongs to one of six new apartments, specifically constructed for public safety, education and health professionals in Bethel.The idea is by providing high quality, affordable housing, Bethel can better recruit and retain personnel.Bethel Community Services Foundation Executive Director Michelle DeWitt inside the Willow Place Apartments. (Photo by Dean Swope/KYUK)Bethel Community Services Foundation led the project. The group wants to address community issues, and Executive Director Michelle DeWitt says housing sits high on that list.“When people leave positions here,” DeWitt said, “housing is often at the root of one of their challenges or one of their areas of dissatisfaction. We have a lack of new, appropriate, nice housing.”These apartments are nice — wood pattern floors and cabinets, modern appliances, high energy conservation ratings and, of course, the scenic views.Mayor Rick Robb was also impressed.“Well this is beautiful,” Robb said. “There’s no doubt. Course it’s brand new, all redone, so it’s beautiful. This was kind of a white elephant, kind of an albatross. It’s been totally renovated.”Bethel Mayor Rick Robb. (Photo by Dean Swope/KYUK)The building was once a daycare center, left vacant several years ago. The push to revitalize an older building helped attract one of the project’s funders — the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.For over a decade, the corporation has funded housing projects for teachers, health professionals and public safety workers across rural Alaska to decrease turnover. So far, the program has shown success with teacher retention.Derrick Chan is a planner with AHFC and said the key to keeping workers long term is getting them to stay past their first year.“If a person works in an area beyond that one-year period,” Chan said, “they’re less likely to transition out. We’re really trying to provide an environment where they can call home, and at the end of the day, they have a place to kick their feet up. They feel welcome.”Bethel City Manager Ann Capela said that initial welcome can make or break a new employee’s first impression.“This is a true story. We had an employee come, take a job at Bethel. We had no place to put him up for the night. We put him up at the annex. He looked at his surroundings, and he left on the first flight in the morning,” Capela said.The city’s newest hire, a firefighter EMT, will have a different experience. He arrived this week with his family and moved directly into one of the units. It’s a step up from the fire department’s usual protocol of housing new recruits in the fire station for their first month.Fire Chief Bill Howell hopes the apartments will attract more workers.“I would think this is definitely helpful from a recruiting standpoint,” Howell said. “You know, a lot of the times, people have the financial resources to get housing in Bethel, and they just can’t find it.”DeWitt said she’ll consider the housing successful if people stay past one year.“I’d be really excited if we had people who were in the units for 18 months to two years,” DeWitt said, “and I’d be even more excited if they left the units to purchase a home in our community. Retention is a really positive thing. When you have quality people in important positions, the outcomes are better for everyone.”The units opened on Nov. 30 and already four of the six spaces are occupied. Tenants include the firefighter, two police officers, and a community safety patrol officer and their families.Share this story:last_img read more

Facing harsh conditions Iditasport racers scratch, competition ends early

first_imgHealth | Outdoors | Sports | Weather | WesternFacing harsh conditions Iditasport racers scratch, competition ends earlyMarch 11, 2017 by Zachariah Hughes, KNOM Share:An aerial view near the Alaska Range. (Photo by David Dodman/KNOM)While mushers along the Iditarod are enjoying good trail conditions, the same isn’t true for the Iditasport. The event bills itself as a “human powered ultramarathon,” where participants bicycle and walk the traditional Iditarod route. It ended prematurely when all the competitors scratched.The first Iditasport was in 1997, but it went defunct in the 2000s. This year, to commemorate the 20th anniversary, it was relaunched. Though poor snow conditions along one section of the trail re-routed the Iditarod sled-dog race, the three Iditasport participants set out from Big Lake and toward the Alaska Range on the heels of the Iron Dog in mid-February. But getting just halfway to Nome was nearly impossible.Jan Kriska looks severely beaten up.“I’ve been frostbitten now, 4-5 days ago, they were my fingers. They were a minor frostbite, but they became a major frostbite.Kriska is a doctor, originally from Slovakia, but now living on a farm in North Carolina. His nose is discolored, fat bandages swaddle fingers that look a disturbing shade of purple, and he can barely walk.“Friction and the pressure and no circulation plus cold caused big chunks of foot ya know, side of the foot to be missing.”We’re talking in Ruby, which Kriska was only just barely able to reach as he ran, walked, and post-holed through hundreds of miles of remote country. He’s one of three people who entered the Iditasport hoping to reach Nome following the traditional Iditarod route. But this year, because the sled-dog race was re-routed to Fairbanks, there was less traffic along the trail heading up and over the Alaska Range toward the Yukon. And recent snows, along with deep cold, make things even more challenging.“The accumulation of the snow later on, the section between McGrath and Ruby was essentially, there was no trail because Iron Dog had gone through a long time ago, then, accumulation of the new snow abolished the existing trail.”Though the Iditasport requires entrants to have completed an “Alaskan winter event,” it only has to total 370 miles. Survival training is mandatory, but the program is just eight hours long. Kriska has done other cold weather races, but he wasn’t prepared when things started going wrong.“It was… I thought I wasn’t gonna make it. I lost my snowshoes. Then, I didn’t have matches, so I couldn’t make water. It was (negative) 40°. Then, the stove stopped working. So I decided I’m not gonna bivy out anymore, so I pushed the last 30 miles through the night and came here (at) 3 o’clock in the morning.”He was in touch with race organizers through a two-way communicator, so they had an idea of where he was and what was going on. But even Kriska says he didn’t know how bad things were until he visited the clinic in Ruby and saw the extent of the damage to his feet. Iditasport doesn’t have staff beyond McGrath, where a number of participants ended a similar, shorter outdoor race. Now, Kriska is preparing to catch a plane back to Anchorage.He isn’t alone. Another runner trying to reach Nome is Jorge Latre who reached Ruby a few hours after Kriska flew out.“You’re going at less than a mile an hour, and you’re in a thousand-mile race, so you think you’re gonna spend the rest of your life doing that. The last three nights were very cold, all below negative 30°, so it took a lot of skill not to lose your fingers or toes or nose. As you had to go about your normal routine, like, just putting on and off your gators, that time is enough to freeze your fingers off. So, every single activity becomes harrowing and difficult.”Latre is in much better shape than his trail mate. Though he’s got a bandage over his nose, he looks otherwise unscathed as he shovels down a plate of fresh fruit, pancakes, and breakfast meats. But he’s not going any further. He thinks it was just a rough year in terms of conditions and doesn’t see the need to push his luck. Latre believes the safety precautions for the race are adequate, so long as you know how to identify trouble.“People know where you are, and you send for an SOS, you can call for help, you can call with questions, so you have a line and people know where you are. If things get totally out of hand, you can get rescued or pull through self-rescue. But absent that: you’re on your own.”Neither Latre or Kriska knew if they’d try the race again.Share this story:last_img read more

Rural veterinary group hopes to improve the lives of people and dogs in Delta villages

first_imgLocal Government | Public Safety | Southwest | WildlifeRural veterinary group hopes to improve the lives of people and dogs in Delta villagesJune 1, 2017 by Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK-Bethel Share:A dog in Kwethluk. (Film Academy Students / Lower Kuskokwim School District)The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta has more dogs than it can care for.A veterinarian travels to Bethel once a month, but no such service exists in the villages.Unvaccinated and uncared-for stray dogs threaten a community’s well being.Now, two organizations have teamed up to work with Delta communities to fix the issue.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. Share this story: Two weeks ago, the city of Napaskiak decided it needed to reduce its stray dog population, so it did what many communities in the Delta do: the city offered a bounty of $20 per dog.Three were killed.Napaskiak city clerk Valerie Kaganak said that it’s hard to find people to participate. People don’t like shooting dogs, and many don’t collect their bounties. But people agree that loose dogs are a problem.“They open trash bags and let it scatter all over. And they steal (subsistence) food that we put away in our porch,” Kaganak said.Dogs also hurt people.Over the past decade there were nearly 1,000 reported dog bites in the YK Delta, according to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.More than half the victims were children younger than 10 years old. In the worst cases, children died.For the past five years, volunteer veterinarians have tried to address that issue by traveling to rural Alaska and offering basic veterinary services like spaying, neutering and vaccinations.This year, for the first time, the vets at Alaska Native Rural Veterinary Incorporated are teaming up with the Humane Society to work with three Delta communities to find solutions to their stray dog problems.The groups are visiting Kwethluk on Wednesday, May 31, and Napaskiak and Napakiak on Thursday, June 1.“We want everyone to show up. Everyone is invited,” said Angie Fitch, executive director of Rural Veterinary.To attend, head to the Bingo Hall with your stories and ideas.“Which will help us determine the best way to address the lack of veterinary care,” Fitch said.Using this information, the groups will return three times this year to offer spaying, neutering and vaccinations.They’ll also offer a doghouse building project where the group works with students in the schools to build doghouses from donated wood.“They learn carpentry skills, but also learn how to do something good for the community,” Fitch said. “Then the dogs will get new dog houses, also.”The groups will hire one person from each community to help organize and run the visits.“They just need to enjoy helping people, and like animals, and be good at collecting data,” Fitch said, “because they’ll have to get all the names of the families and the dogs, and keep track of the shot records.”The goal is to use the program as a pilot project to improve the lives of people and dogs across rural Alaska.last_img read more

MCAN founder to run for Don Young’s seat in Congress

first_imgFederal Government | Juneau | PoliticsMCAN founder to run for Don Young’s seat in CongressJune 8, 2017 by Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO Share:Greg Fitch poses for a portrait in Juneau on Thursday. Fitch filed paperwork to run for Republican Don Young’s seat in Congress in 2018. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)Greg Fitch, founder of the Juneau-based Mental Health Consumer Action Network, has filed to run for Republican Don Young’s seat in Congress.Fitch, 47, is a Democrat. According to the Alaska Division of Elections, he’s the third person to file for the 2018 election.Longtime incumbent Don Young and political newcomer Dimitri Shein of Anchorage are the other candidates.Young, 83, has held Alaska’s sole seat in the U.S. House since 1973.Shein, 36, is an Anchorage CPA and businessman running as a Democrat.Fitch had resigned on May 24 as executive director of his fledgling nonprofit. At the time, he said he intended to run for Republican Dan Sullivan’s U.S. Senate seat in 2020, but says he is no longer pursuing that. Part of Fitch and MCAN’s ethos is to destigmatize mental illness. Fitch says he has schizoaffective disorder. Before founding MCAN last year, he’d worked as a community organizer with ACORN in the Lower 48.Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Dimitri Shein was misidentified as having no party affiliation. Shein is running as a Democrat.Share this story:last_img read more

Walker says tax is needed to pay for services

first_imgCrime & Courts | Economy | Interior | Military | Southcentral | State GovernmentWalker says tax is needed to pay for servicesSeptember 29, 2017 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:Gov. Bill Walker’s chief of staff Scott Kendall, left, listens as Walker speaks to Commonwealth North in Anchorage. Walker said a broad-based tax is needed. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO)Gov. Bill Walker and his top aides tried to make the case for enacting a new tax to a group of business and political leaders Friday.The state must figure out a more sustainable way to pay for services, Walker said.He spoke at a breakfast hosted by the nonpartisan think tank Commonwealth North in Anchorage.“It’s not fun to roll out stuff involving the word – I don’t know how many ways you can disguise the word tax – but we just say it the way it is. It’s a tax,” Walker said. “We’re at the point where we can no longer be the only state in the nation that doesn’t have a broad-based tax.”Walker has proposed a tax of 1.5 percent on wages and self-employment income. There would be a limit. No one would pay more than twice what they receive in an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.Revenue Commissioner Sheldon Fisher said the tax would help stabilize the state’s economy. It would raise an estimated $320 million.Fisher said that while there are more opportunities to reduce the cost of government, the state has already made deep cuts.“When we talk about rightsizing government – when people talk about it – my argument is going to be that we need to be talking about the programs we have,” Fisher said. “It’s easy to kind of say, you know, ‘State government is bloated, the departments are bloated, we know we can – they can do this more efficiently.’”Walker’s chief of staff Scott Kendall said the lack of a broad-based tax creates what he called the “Alaska disconnect.”He said that’s when growth in military or private-sector jobs lead to higher government costs without providing revenue to pay for the costs.“The F-35s coming to Fairbanks – phenomenal for Fairbanks, phenomenal for North Pole – at the end of the day will actually cost the state money: more public safety, more schools for kids, more wear and tear on the roads,” Fisher said. “That’s the Alaska disconnect.”Kendall said industries – including the oil industry – will wonder whether they will have to bear the burden until the state has taxes that rise with growth.A special session on the tax bill and a second measure to increase jail times for offenses is scheduled for Oct. 23 in Juneau. Walker could add more items to the special session agenda.Share this story:last_img read more

Kodiak art project encourages salmon discussion

first_imgArts & Culture | Fisheries | SouthwestKodiak art project encourages salmon discussionSeptember 29, 2017 by Kayla Desroches, KMXT-Kodiak Share:Kitty Farnham, right, watches children write responses to fisheries-based questions. (Photo by Kayla Desroches/KMXT)The first cohort of Alaska Salmon Fellows is wrapping up its pilot year with final projects.The program brings together different innovators in the state, from policy makers to artists, and prompts them to start discussions about the salmon industry.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Local Salmon Fellow Anjuli Grantham organized one recent art event at the Baranov Museum as her final project.The museum and its partners invited the public to see a slideshow of artists whose work reflects the relationship between Alaskans and salmon.People gather on the museum grounds.A projector plays a slideshow on a screen outside. It’s perfect weather for an event like this – not raining hard, but just overcast enough to keep people in town instead of out camping or hiking.A Salmon Fellows organizer has made it in for the occasion.Kitty Farnham is the director of leadership programs at the Alaska Humanities Forum, which organizes the program. She wore an Alaska Salmon Fellows jacket that featured an icon of colorful fish.At the beginning of the event, Farnham explained all 16 Salmon Fellows are doing projects in their particular areas, like education, history or policy.“Being the Humanities Forum, we’re really looking at it though the people lens, and all the data in the world is valuable, but without having the relationships between people in different sectors, there’s really no way to address solutions that don’t become embroiled in win-lose, and we’re looking for solutions that really work across our communities,” Farnham said.After wandering in, some people stopped in the yard to chat and a couple play a game called corn hole, aiming bean bags at a hole in a board. The sacks thump against the wood.Farnham said the project is meant to spark conversation. This is the kind of gathering Salmon Projections aims for.“There’s some parallel projects around looking at management systems, relationships between organizations and the official regulating bodies, education,” Farnham said. “Really, also trying to change the narrative from one of we can’t agree on, you know, a sense of zero sum game and allocations to what’s best for our communities and for our salmon.”On the porch, attendees snack on sushi.Just inside the building, seaweed salad and smoked salmon are available alongside tea bags and a samovar full of hot water. By the end of the night, the platter of salmon is empty.That’s one thing most people who attend have in common.No matter what their relationship to the fishing industry, they usually eat fish.And they tend to agree that the larger aim is to keep the fisheries healthy and strong.Sports fisherman Brent Pristas said the state should focus on industry sustainability.“I think we keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Pristas said. “As long as we value it and place a proper emphasis on the salmon over other kinds of development, I think it will continue.”Ginny Austerman, a longtime Kodiak resident, said the local fishing industry needs community growth.“Things like cold storage and more processing plants and jobs for local people are very important as well as making sure that there’s fish for next year,” Austerman said.Rita Stevens agreed it’s important to build up local infrastructure.“Like improve the dock situation for the boats and the storage of boats and the dry dock and having repair shops here instead of having to go down to Seattle (and) take the business away from Kodiak,” Stevens said.The museum encourages more conversations like these by setting up pieces of paper covered with questions about fisheries and sustainability and asking people to scribble their responses.The Salmon Fellows will convene again in a couple of weeks.Farnham said they’re recruiting now for the next round of fellows, and the application period opens at the beginning of the year.Share this story:last_img read more

Juneau’s Fred Meyer intersection under scrutiny

first_imgCommunity | Juneau | Public Safety | TransportationJuneau’s Fred Meyer intersection under scrutinyDecember 8, 2017 by Jacob Resneck, KTOO Share:Authorities investigate a two-vehicle collision in 2016 on Egan Drive. (Photo by Kelli Burkinshaw/KTOO)State traffic engineers are studying one of Juneau’s most dangerous intersections to reduce crashes.A recent study found that the uncontrolled crossing at Egan and Yandukin drives — the Fred Meyer intersection — has one of the highest rates of injury collisions.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Most of the 60 crashes studied over a 10-year period involved drivers misjudging the break in oncoming traffic and turning left. Of those, 19 collisions resulted in at least one injury.Alaska Department of Transportation has contracted Kinney Engineering to study the problem.Kinney engineer Jeanne Bowie said there already are three possible scenarios.The first is a traffic light.“It would be a protected-only signal and the left turns would only turn when they had a green arrow,” Bowie said during a Friday conference call with state engineers.The second option would erect a barrier.“If we eliminate the left turns, then they don’t have the option of driver error at that intersection,” Bowie said. “They’d be using the Nugget (Mall) intersection.”A third option would be to build an overpass that would link the airport area and Fred Meyer shopping center.Alaska DOT is studying ways to make the intersection near the Fred Meyer intersection safer. (Graphic courtesy of Alaska DOT)All three scenarios have drawbacks: a signal would slow down traffic and also increase the risk of rear-end crashes. A barrier eliminating cross-traffic would be inconvenient and force drivers to detour out of their way. An overpass would be the most expensive.DOT invites the public to discuss the intersection at an open house on Tuesday as a chance to brainstorm with state engineers and consultants.“Somebody may have some ideas that are just kind of out-of-the-box,” DOT engineer Greg Lockwood said. “We would would like to hear those.”Kinney Engineering’s report – and recommendations – are expected this spring.DOT’s open house will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday (Dec. 12) at the Mendenhall Valley library. The presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m.  Public comments will be accepted through Jan. 12. Share this story:last_img read more

Commercial troller voices issues with derelict boat bill moving through Legislature

first_imgSoutheast | State GovernmentCommercial troller voices issues with derelict boat bill moving through LegislatureMarch 30, 2018 by Leila Kheiry, KRBD-Ketchikan Share:Ketchikan’s Thomas Basin Boat Harbor is seen from a visiting cruise ship. (File photo by Leila Kheiry/KRBD )A bill meant to discourage boat owners from abandoning derelict vessels in public waters is moving through the Alaska Legislature.It’s supported by a state harbors organization, but a Prince of Wales Island fisherman has objections.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Andy Deering is a commercial troller based in Craig. He has two boats. One is his home and the other is for work.If Senate Bill 92 and the companion House Bill 386 pass, he and everyone else in the state who owns a boat will be affected.“It will affect you negatively in the sense that, no question, everybody will be affected with more red tape and more expense,” he said.Deering has been following the derelict vessels bill, and said there have been changes as it makes its way through various committees. As it stands, though, he said problems remain.His concerns include the requirement that all boats be titled, like a car.Deering said he can see how that might be helpful when selling a boat. But, people have been successfully selling boats in the state for a long time without titles.“It’s potentially OK, but it’s also potentially kind of a pain in the neck with an additional $20 fee,” he said. “That applies not just to the big boats, but everything right down to the little 14-foot Lunds.”Deering questions whether there’s any gain from requiring a title on top of state registration or federal documentation.Speaking of registration: that, too, would change.Deering said under the bill, boats that have federal documentation would also need to be registered in the state – with a fee of $30 every three years.“Getting an additional Alaska state registration on top of that current documentation isn’t going to be anything more than a bunch of revenue for the state and a bunch of inconvenience for law-abiding boaters,” he said.Rachel Lord helped craft the derelict vessels legislation.Lord, who also is executive secretary of the Alaska Association of Harbormasters and Port Administrators, said there will be some extra fees involved – but only enough to pay for the program.She said every section of the proposed bill was written to address a problem. Is registration on top of a title redundant? Well, yes.“It is redundant because we have seen — time and again, case and case and case again, costing a lot of money – we’re seeing an inability for the state or municipalities, to be able to effectively hold somebody responsible for their property based just on the federal documentation,” she said.Lord said she understands why responsible boat owners would object to additional regulations.“I don’t want to make light of or disregard concerns about an added layer,” she said. “I will say however, it is in direct response to a very significant problem, a chronic problem throughout the state.”Lord gave several examples of boats that became a problem, including a couple outside of Homer.They had been denied entrance at various harbors, and eventually were tied up in state waters near some shellfish farms and abandoned.Those boats eventually sank, causing an environmental-cleanup problem and shutting down the oyster farms for a while.She said that incident and others highlighted the limitations of current state regulations. Lord was part of a task force that worked on updates to those statutes, leading to the current proposed legislation.“We looked at what are the holes, and how do we start making progress to improve things,” she said. “It became pretty clear that our statutes were so outdated and not useful that it needed a full rewrite.”Lord said every section of the proposed bill directly addresses a problem the group identified when looking at case studies of abandoned boats in Alaska.The bill includes fines for boat owners who abandon their vessels, and that’s another area Deering questions because it’s the same fines for all boats.Whether it’s a small skiff or a large seiner, the owner would pay from $5,000,up to $10,000. Civil penalties also can be brought.Lord said that was discussed at length by the task force.“Nobody could agree on what a high-risk vessel is because of the nature of our remote coastline, the sensitivity of some of our estuaries and fisheries,” she said. “The expense of dealing with almost any size boat, depending on where it is, can be astronomical.”A responsible boat owner wouldn’t have to worry about getting fined, she said, no matter what size their boat is.Lord added that the legislation includes increased protections for boat owners. So if a vessel is deemed abandoned and derelict by state officials, there would be more legal recourse than currently in the books for a boat owner to contest it.While additional fees and fines are part of his concerns, Deering said those aren’t what bother him most about this proposed bill.He primarily objects to more rules – like requiring a permit to store a boat in a protected cove, a traditional practice in some parts of Alaska.“It’s more about the freedom,” he said. “It’s more about what sort of defines us as Alaskans. And the whole concept of freedom and taking away some of those freedoms for very little benefit.”Deering said he and many others live in Alaska for a reason – they want to avoid all those formal regulations.But, Lord said those very regulations would help protect Alaska in the long run.Share this story:last_img read more

Updated: Dunleavy calls lawmakers to Juneau to continue special session

first_imgState GovernmentUpdated: Dunleavy calls lawmakers to Juneau to continue special sessionJuly 17, 2019 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:Governor Mike Dunleavy speaks in front of Wasilla Middle School. Dunleavy orignially called the Legislature to a second special session at that location, but changed it to Juneau on July 17. (Photo by Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)UpdateMore than a week after Alaska lawmakers started a session in two different cities, the split is over.Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on Wednesday that the location of the second special session has been changed from Wasilla to Juneau. Dunleavy also added the capital budget to the agenda, effective Wednesday.Dunleavy spokesman Matt Shuckerow said the governor is allowing legislative work to advance. “The governor has said we have to find a way to move forward and, certainly, meeting in two locations is not going to allow that to happen,” Shuckerow said.Legislative leaders thanked Dunleavy for the changes. Senate President Cathy Giessel, an Anchorage Republican, said the changes followed a series of meetings the governor has held with the four caucus leaders. “We were very thankful that we could find alignment on the subject of location and the priority of the capital budget,” she said.Lawmakers have expressed concern that Alaska could lose up to $1 billion in federal funding if the state doesn’t fund its share of the capital budget by July 31. While the Legislature passed the capital budget last month, lawmakers couldn’t agree on how to fund it. Dunleavy called the special session in Wasilla, but majorities of both chambers met in Juneau. Dueling lawsuits have been filed seeking to invalidate each location. Anchorage Republicans Sen. Mia Costello and Rep. Lance Pruitt asked Dunleavy to add the capital budget to the call. Pruitt said the governor showed leadership with the new proclamation.“The governor said, ‘You know, I am going to do everything I can to bring people together, so that we can have these conversations,’” Pruitt said.House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, a Dillingham independent, said in a statement that the announcement is a significant step to ending the political turmoil disrupting Alaskans’ lives. Lawmakers are expected to arrive in Juneau on Thursday, the 11th day of the 30-day special session.Original storyBy Wesley Early, Alaska Public MediaAfter over a week in two locations, the Legislature will convene in Juneau.In a declaration Wednesday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy amended his call for the second special session to have it take place in Juneau, rather than his original choice: Wasilla.The governor also expanded the session agenda to allow for capital appropriations. Initially, the sole topic of discussion during the session was the size of the permanent fund dividend.Legislative leadership had contended that they had the jurisdiction to decide where to meet for the session, and most legislators met in the capitol for the start of the session last Monday. But a sizable chunk of lawmakers more sympathetic to Dunleavy’s positions convened at Wasilla Middle School. The divide was large enough that Juneau lawmakers didn’t have enough votes last week to override the governor’s line-item vetoes.Share this story:last_img read more