Alaska News Nightly: April 25, 2008

Kodiak School Superintendent Larry LeDoux is appointed state Education Commissioner. Meanwhile the US House passes a new Coast Guard authorization bill. Plus, the Alaska Supreme Court upholds Valdez supertanker tax, and a brown bear from Haines becomes a star in a Minnesota zoo. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Kodiak’s Larry LeDoux appointed state Education Commissioner

Casey Kelly, KMXT – Kodiak
Kodiak Schools’ Superintendent Larry LeDoux is the state’s new Education Commissioner. The State Board of Education and Early Development made the selection Thursday, which was immediately approved by Governor Sarah Palin

AK Supreme Court upholds supertanker tax
Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau
The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld a property tax levied on supertankers entering the port of Valdez. The city of Valdez in 1999 began charging companies a tax based on the real value of tankers that docked to load up on crude oil from the trans-Alaska pipeline. Polar Tankers – a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips – objected, saying that it amounted to a double tax on their property. they also argued that it violated the due process, commerce, and tonnage clauses of the U.S. constitution.

New drug, alcohol and tobacco use policy on the table for school activities
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Alaska school sports and other activities could soon have a new statewide policy on drug, alcohol and tobacco use. The Alaska school activities association will consider the issue as part of its spring board meeting in Petersburg starting this weekend.

US House passes Coast Guard authorization bill
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
A 2009 Coast Guard authorization bill passed by the US House has numerous provisions of interest to Alaska. In wake of the Selendang Ayu accident, the bill would direct the Coast Guard to do vessel traffic risk assessments for Cook Inlet and the Aleutian Islands. Those studies would evaluate how much and what kind of vessel traffic those areas have now and are expected to have in the future.

Sitka officials want to opt out of new financial disclosure rules
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
Elected officials in Sitka are proposing a ballot question asking voters to exempt them from state financial disclosure requirements. The Sitka assembly Tuesday night passed on first reading ballot language that would allow local officials to file the shorter disclosure forms used before the overhaul of state ethics laws last year. If it passes, the Alaska Public Offices Commission says Sitka would be the largest community so far to opt-out of the tougher rules.

Navy looks for input for activities in the Gulf of Alaska
Amy Bracken, KCHU – Valdez
The US Navy wants you! That is, it’s seeking your input in an environmental impact statement. The EIS is a review of the Navy’s ongoing activities in the Gulf of Alaska, and potential increase in activities. There are nine days left in the public comment period.ow Alaskans are getting fatter.

Alaska leads nation in latest worker fatality report

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The 2006 statistic was made public this week in an annual report put out by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO report. There were 45 work related fatalities in Alaska in 2006, or nearly 14 per 100,000 workers – 3 times the national average.

Haines bear a star in Minnesota
John Hunt, KHNS – Haines
A 50-pound brown bear cub captured in Haines 2 years ago has made it big in the media, after it and 2 other Alaskan Grizzlies were transported to the Minnesota Zoo.