Alaska News Nightly: March 20, 2008

The State Supreme Court hears arguments on Marijuana criminalization law. Plus, The Legislature considers a bill to move the legislature out of Juneau. And examining the high rates of HIV/AIDS among Native Americans. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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State Supreme Court hears arguments on “Methajuana” law
Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau
The Alaska Supreme Court heard oral arguments this afternoon on a recent law criminalizing the possession of small amounts of Marijuana. A lower court struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Governor takes offensive on education bill
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Sarah Palin says she is not satisfied with the Education bill the legislature sent to her earlier this month. And in a meeting with reporters this morning, she left open the possibility of a veto of the entire measure.

Bill to take legislature out of Juneau getting traction
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Communities across Alaska could compete for the legislature under a bill that passed the House Finance Committee this morning. It’s one of several bills before lawmakers this year to take them out of the capital city. This one recently got legs and started moving.

Fairbanks peace group reaches out to service personnel
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A local peace group is reaching out to service people at Ft Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base. The Fairbanks Chapter of the national group Veterans for Peace has primarily pushed it’ stop the war message within the civilian population, but the group’s Rob Mulford says that’s changing. Mulford says the new soldier out reach mirrors what other Veterans for Peace chapters are doing around the country.

Rally calls for permanent fund to drop investments that do business in Sudan
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
100 people rallied on the state capitol steps, calling for Alaska to divest from companies that do business in Sudan. They support House and Senate bills that require the permanent fund and state retirement plans to divest of stocks in foreign companies doing business in Sudan.

High rates among Natives mark National Native HIV/AIDS awareness day
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Today has been designated National Native HIV/AIDS awareness day. Senator Lisa Murkowski recently won passage of a resolution supporting the designation to help encourage the coordination of services. CDC research finds that Native people have the 3rd highest infection rates behind Blacks and Hispanics.

Equinox myths – true or false?
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Today is the equinox, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. There are lots of myths, legends and inaccuracies that go along with the equinox. So to clear things up, we called Travis Rector, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Sustainable agriculture conference marks the start of spring at UAF
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
There’s still more than a month until the snow and ice are gone, but the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service is preparing for the growing season with an agriculture conference this week. One of the volunteer organizers, local farmer Mike Emmers says it’s the fourth year that the conference has brought together state and national experts on organic and sustainable farming.