Alaska News Nightly: October 2, 2007

Governor Palin unveiled the oil tax legislation she’s asking lawmakers to consider in a special legislative session this month. Plus, school officials in Juneau are cracking down on bullying, but some students think the district is going too far. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Palin reveals proposed oil tax revisions
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Palin administration today gave the public its first look at the legislation that lawmakers will begin debating in the special session coming up later this month. The bill raises oil and gas tax rates and closes some loopholes in the current tax that went into effect last year.

Mining reforms debated in Congress
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
Don Young and other critics argued today that the latest round of proposals to reform the 135-year-old federal law covering mining on public lands could seriously harm the U.S. industry. West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall is calling for reforms that include tighter permitting rules, higher environmental and reclamation standards and an 8% royalty on minerals mined from public lands.

North Slope tunnel yielding 70-million year old dinosaur secrets
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
University of Alaska Museum of the North researchers are employing a new strategy in their search for dinosaur bones on the North Slope. Museum scientists have been pulling dinosaur fossils from a site on the Colville River for over 20 years, but Museum paleontologist Kevin May says, until this summer, work had been confined to the river bank.

Juneau school taking a zero tolerance stance on bullying
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
School officials and police are attempting to crack down on bullying in the Juneau School District. Juneau Police say the schools were plagued by “multiple” incidents of bullying and hazing last semester, some of them rising to the level of felony crimes.

Annual Top 49 Alaska business list announced
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Yesterday the Alaska Business Monthly released its annual list of the top state based businesses. This year’s list showed a stronger than ever Alaska Native Corporation prominence.

Fairbanks ‘wrapping’ city buses in ads to deflect operating costs
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Fairbanks North Star Borough is getting serious about marketing its buses to advertisers. The Borough transit system recently unveiled a red-and-yellow bus entirely covered with logos and ads for fast food maker McDonalds.

Voters statewide choosing among Alaska’s candidates and issues
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Voters across the state are going to the polls today to participate in municipal elections.

  • Ketchikan voters are deciding whether to limit the number of jewelry stores in the city’s central commercial area.
  • Wrangell voters are considering a fish-processor’s future. They’ll vote on whether to sell a city loan made to Wrangell Seafoods Incorporated, which has had problems paying its debts to the city.
  • Juneau’s ballot includes a measure that would restore fluoride to the city water system. It was removed last year after a citizens panel deadlocked on the controversial chemical. Juneau voters will also consider funding a new swimming pool, elementary school repairs and artificial turf at two ballfields.
  • Petersburg’s ballot includes a measure to use money from the city’s economic development fund to lower water bills.
  • In the Mat-Su Borough, voters will decide whether to pass a controversial land use ordinance that would limit Borough oversight of private property development.
  • Anchorage voters aren’t going to the polls today. The city opts to hold its election in April instead.
  • Fairbanks North Star Borough voters are considering a sales tax proposal. The Borough would levy a 2.5% sales tax, which would double to 5% each year between April 1 and September 30. The sales tax would lower property taxes.
  • Bethel voters are also considering a sales tax proposal. The proposition asks voters for a 1 percentage point increase in the sales tax for the next two years. That would boost the current sales tax from 5% to 6%. If the proposition passes, the city would create a community recreation center.
  • In Kodiak city, there are a few important ballot measures. One asks voters if they would authorize the city to issue $27 million in bonds, and raise the sales tax by a penny a dollar to build a public safety building downtown. Another Proposition asks city voters if they want to rescind the city council’s decision to place a police station and jail on Near Island.
  • In Barrow, residents will decide whether to authorize the borough to sell $54 million in bonds to finance various capitol improvement projects.
  • Most communities are also choosing various city council, Borough assembly and school board representatives. Several mayoral seats are also being contested.

Energy policy and technology summit focusing on Arctic issues
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The International Polar Year that runs until 2009 is focusing international attention on Arctic issues. This month the Arctic Energy Summit’s Technology conference will be held in Anchorage. The conference will bring together policy makers and technologists from eight Arctic nations to focus on the topic of energy in the Arctic. James Hemsath is a senior fellow for energy at the Institute of the North. He says the conference will consider the problems with affordable energy access in rural arctic communities. Hemsath says energy sustainability will also be explored.