Alaska News Nightly: September 5, 2008

The State House and Senate Judiciary committees plan to meet jointly next week on the Monegan investigation. Plus, Alaskan are about to receive their highest PFD ever. And with absentee votes now counted, Don Young still leads Sean Parnell, but the margin is now even slimmer. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Legislative committees to meet next week on Monegan investigation
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
A combined House and Senate judiciary committee will meet a week from today to consider issuing subpoenas in the legislative investigation into the events surrounding the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

McCain and Palin disagree on climate change
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
John McCain and Sarah Palin agree on many issues. But on others, like climate change, the Republican running mates don’t see eye to eye.

Highest PFD ever
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Alaskans can expect the highest permanent fund dividend ever this year. Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell announced the amount today of  $2,069. Added to that will be a one time energy payment of $1200, for a total of nearly $3300 for each Alaskan.

State House to consider high energy costs
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Anchorage
The House Judiciary Committee next week will open the first of two planned hearings on the high cost of gasoline and heating oil – particularly looking into why Alaskans pay more for fuel even though it is refined in the state. Chairman Jay Ramras says he also wants to see if the hearings themselves will help bring down prices – which have not been reduced here as they have in other parts of the nation

NMFS reviews status of Arctic seals
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
The federal government is reviewing the status of three Arctic seals that live off Alaska’s coasts to determine if they should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.  Yesterday, the National Marine Fisheries Service said there is enough of a question about the health of the seal populations to warrant looking into whether they are threatened or endangered.  The agency is responding to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity, which says the ringed, bearded, and spotted seals are at risk because of global warming.

Adak faces another power crisis
Anne Hillman, KIAL – Unalaska
The city of Adak is in the middle of another power crisis. It can’t afford to pay its bills and plans on starting rolling blackouts tonight and only provide power for 11 hours per day.

Young still leads Parnell, but slim margin is now 22 votes slimmer
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The division of elections counted absentee and questioned ballots in the close Republican primary race between Don Young and Sean Parnell for Alaska’s US House seat. Young still leads Parnell, but by a slimmer 129 votes. More than 25,000 ballots included in today’s count.  Election division director Gail Fenumei says foreign ballots will also have to be counted next week.

Alaska Supreme Court upholds Mat Su tobacco tax
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Palmer
The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld the Matanuska Susitna Borough’s right to levy an excise tax on tobacco. The decision sets a precedent for second class borough’s in Alaska.  The case goes back to May of 2005,  when the Borough Assembly adopted an ordinance assessing the tax.

Residents of Kodiak weigh in on Palin’s campaign rhetoric
Casey Kelly, KMXT – Kodiak
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is being praised for delivering an impressive speech Wednesday in accepting the role of running mate to Republican presidential contender John McCain. Palin touted her executive experience and said that if elected president, McCain would use veto power in “the public interest.”

No Heart for Palin
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
The rock group Heart wants the Republican Party to change its tune. Loudspeakers at the Republican Convention blasted Heart’s 1977 hit “Barracuda” this week in honor of Governor Sarah Palin. She was nicknamed “Sarah Barracuda” in her high-school basketball days in Wasilla. Heart’s music publisher has sent a cease-and-desist notice to the McCain-Palin campaign.