Alaska News Nightly: April 10, 2008

Legislators head into the final days of the legislative session with plenty on their plates.  Plus, Halibut charter operators may have to buy quota shares for their clients. And Arctic Man competitors converge on Summit Lake.  Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via e-mail, podcast and RSS.

Legislative crunch time

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Legislature is facing a voter-mandated adjournment Sunday night – and members spent most of the day dealing with small issues that could lead to some big questions tomorrow and over the weekend. The public is still waiting for two major spending bills – the capital projects budget in the House and a bill authorizing a public vote on bonds that would provide more than two hundred million dollars for transportation projects around the state.

Alaskans welcome announcement of short deployments for servicemen and women

Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC & Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
President Bush announced today that American troops will serve shorter deployments in the war zone of Iraq.  Bush says the change will affect units heading overseas after August 1st.  The president also pledged that soldiers will continue to stay home for a year between deployments.  Troops began doing longer, 15-month rotations in 2006 in order to beef up the number of soldiers in Iraq.  The Fairbanks-based Stryker Brigade was one of the first units kept in-country longer than a year when its tour was extended in July 2006, just weeks before its soldiers were scheduled to come home.

Settlement reached in Yellow-Billed Loon lawsuit

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Center for Biological Diversity settled a lawsuit this week with the US Fish and Wildlife service over a dispute regarding the yellow billed loon. The Center’s attorney Andrea Treece says the suit came about after Fish and Wildlife failed to make a determination regarding the merit of the petition with in the required 90 day timeframe.

Charter operators may have to buy halibut quota shares

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
Charter operators who take clients out to fish for halibut may have to start buying quota share from the commercial fleet – at least in Southeast Alaska and possibly in South-central.  That’s the latest response by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to ongoing pressure to curtail the growth of the charter catch – which is costing the commercial fleet fish, under the current system.

Which Democrat will get Alaska’s superdelegates?

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The tight race to become the Democratic party presidential nominee is putting the party’s super delegates in a powerful position. The 800 or so super delegates are party leaders or elected officials who can choose to support the candidate they like, regardless of each state’s caucus or primary results. It is unlikely Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator Barack Obama will be earn enough regular delegates to win the nomination. And that means super delegates could play a deciding role in choosing a nominee. Alaska has just four super delegates- fewer than almost any other state. So far, two are undecided, one will vote for Obama and the other for Clinton.

Senate passes natural-resources and public-lands bills
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
The US Senate overwhelmingly passed a package of natural resources and public land bills today that includes a couple of Alaska measures. One sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski calls for a comprehensive federal study of Alaska’s water resources. She says the state now lacks that important information base for development decisions

New book lays out Alutiiq life under Russians and Americans
Jay Barrett. KMXT – Kodiak
The history of the Alutiiq  people of coastal Southcentral Alaska changed forever when Russian fur traders invaded their land and forced them to hunt sea otters to the brink of extinction. Their situation didn’t improve much with the purchase of Alaska by the United States in the 19th century. The lives of Alutiiq villagers under both Russian and American rule is the subject of a new book by anthropologist Sonja  Luerhmann.

Artic Man racers converge on Summit Lake
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
Thousands of Alaskans are flocking to Summit Lake, off the Richardson Highway, for the annual Arctic Man Ski and Sno-Go Classic.  The annual outdoor party surrounds a competition that involves 2 person teams of a snow machiner, and either a skier or snowboarder, in a high speed race up and down a mountain.  Machiners tow their teammates up the hill, and then the skiers and snowboarders tuck it to the finish line.