Alaska News Nightly: September 18, 2007

Alaska House lawmakers today got their first peek behind the scenes at what went into the Governor’s new oil tax proposal. Plus, the defense began presenting its case today in the corruption trial of former legislator Pete Kott. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Governor and Alaska House members discuss new oil tax
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The Palin Administration sat down with members of the state House today to discuss its proposal for revising Alaska’s oil tax structure. It was the first chance for lawmakers to peak behind the scenes to see how the plan was created. And the presentation spurred a lot of questions.

Kott defense takes helm of corruption trial proceedings
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The defense began presenting its case today in the federal corruption trial of former Alaska legislator Pete Kott. APRN’s David Shurtleff has been following the trial and joins us from the federal courthouse in Anchorage.

Senator Cowdery plans to skip special session in wake of Kott trial allegations
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Anchorage Republican Senator John Cowdery today announced he will not take part in next months’ special legislative session dealing with oil taxes. In a statement released late this afternoon, Cowdery says he does not want his presence at the session to be a distraction. Cowdery was named in court last Friday by former VECO vice-president Rick Smith as one of the legislators that VECO bribed during last years’ consideration of the new profits based petroleum tax.

Epidemiologists in Kotzebue investigating possible infant virus outbreak
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
State department of health epidemiologists were in Kotzebue last week to investigate the cause of nine similar cases of respiratory illness in babies. State epidemiologist Dr. Beth Funk says the infants had a number of similar symptoms.

Red king crab fishing off-limits in Southeast this fall
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
The southeast red king crab fishery will be closed again this fall. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced on Friday that the state’s estimate of the red crab abundance was far too low to have a commercial harvest.

30-day public comment period opens on Tulsequah Chief mine
Leonard Linklater, CBC – Whitehorse
The public will get its chance to comment on the controversial Tulsequah Chief mine proposal over the next 30 days. But an environmental group says that’s not enough time to give people a chance to assess new information.

Alaska Native groups gathering in Kake to discuss economics, health
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Southeast Alaska’s oldest Native organizations will hold their annual meeting next month. The Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood’s Grand Camp Convention will take place the first week of October in Kake. Delegates will hear about economic and health issues and vote on officers and resolutions.

Kwethluk men building first bear/caribou skin boat in 15 years
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
On the Kuskokwim River, building a bear skin boat is a job traditionally performed in the spring. But last week it was happening at the Cultural Center in Bethel. Two men from Kwethluk, a village located 14 miles upriver, are creating a boat for the first time in 15 years.

Homer scientists look back on 20 years of research with celebrated vessel
Mike Mason, KBBI – Homer
Officials are preparing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of an important research vessel — the Tiglax — for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in Homer.