Alaska News Nightly: February 14, 2008

A bill that would move the legislature to Anchorage took a step forward today. Plus, residents of a sunless neighborhood in Kodiak adjust to life in the dark. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Alaska Senate may curtail national ID system
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Senate is considering a bill that would draw the line on the Federal government’s attempts to have a national identification system. The “Real ID” system, administered by the Department of Homeland Security, would require states to meet a federal standard in issuing driver’s licenses or state identification cards. ID cards meeting the standard would be required for entering federal office buildings, flying on airplanes or crossing borders if the national plan takes effect.

Bill to move legislative sessions to Anchorage gets hearing in the house
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
In an abbreviated hearing this morning, a bill relocating legislative sessions to Anchorage beginning in 2010 moved from the House State Affairs committee into the hands of the bill’s sponsor, Finance Co-chair Kevin Meyer of Anchorage. The bill also repeals an initiative originally passed by voters in 1978 — and then expanded in 1994 — that would have required the public to approve the cost of any move from Juneau.

Nikolski fuel crisis a disaster
Charles Homans, KIAL – Unalaska
The Aleutian village of Nikolski has declared its ongoing fuel crisis to be a disaster emergency and local leaders have appealed to the state for help. A spokesperson for governor Palin says her emergency management team is assessing the situation.

Juneau bars say smoking ban toxic to business
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
Bar owners say business is down sharply in the wake of Juneau’s smoking ban. They report drops of 20% to 50% last month in gross sales compared to January 2007.

NYU dentists drop in on Kasigluk
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Dentists from the New York University College of Dentistry descended on the tundra Village of Kasigluk last week to implement a pilot project aimed at overcoming a dental health epidemic. The College has a long history of similar volunteer projects in third world countries, but they decided to lend a hand in rural Alaska in the wake of the American Dental Association’s lawsuit against the Dental Therapist Program.

Mackey clings to Quest lead
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Fairbanks musher Lance Mackey was the first to reach the Yukon Quest halfway point in Dawson City this afternoon. Mackey arrived at 1:01 p.m., followed closely by Fairbanks musher Ken Anderson, who arrived at 1:34 p.m.

Southeast communities fighting Ketchikan borough annexation
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
School and city leaders from small southern Southeast communities want the legislature to block Ketchikan’s expansion plans. They testified earlier this week in favor of measures opposing a recently-approved borough annexation petition.

The dark side of Kodiak
Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak
Kodiak may be nearly a thousand miles south of Point Barrow, but there’s one part of town where, like Barrow, the sun doesn’t shine for months during the depths of winter.