Alaska News Nightly: July 23, 2009

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Parnell Wants Tighter Controls on Leaks
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell is asking Alaska’s attorney general to recommend ways to ensure state ethics probes remain confidential before they are complete.

Anchorage Facing Bigger Budget Deficit
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Anchorage is facing a considerable budget deficit this year and next. The city is $9 million dollars short this year and nearly double that amount next year. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan announced the figures when he released his transition report on Thursday.

Seniors Caught in Bureaucratic Bind
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
As Congress grapples with the enormous task of trying to overhaul the health care system, Alaska’s seniors are getting a one-two punch from Medicare and Medicaid. The latest problem is within the Medicaid waiver program that has caused federal managers to put a halt to the state enrolling or even paying for approved potential Medicaid clients that are caught on a waiting list.

Senator Postpones Vote on Native Contracts
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The US Senator concerned about the fairness of Alaska Native Corporation’s government contracts is holding off introducing an amendment that would give them more competition. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, A Democrat, attached her amendment to a defense spending bill yesterday – but did not call it up for a vote today.  Her office says she has not withdrawn the amendment – it’s just on hold for now.

Begich, Murkowski Meet on EPA’s Mine Decision
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Alaska’s Senators met on Thursday with the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to talk about the Kensington Mine Project.  They’re upset that the EPA has asked for a re-evaluation of a permit – a move the Senators say could stall the project.

Chum Salmon Now Prized on Yukon River
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Chum Salmon are replacing Yukon Kings as the main target for commercial fisheries on the Yukon River. The Yukon King used to be the base of the Lower Yukon’s economy. But dwindling King returns and tighter restrictions have commercial fishers downgrading to Chums.

State Weighing Oil and Gas Options
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The state is weighing how to move forward with an oil and gas risk assessment.  The Palin Administration project was initiated in 2007 in response to corrosion caused spills at Prudhoe Bay, but a contractor devised methodology is drawing criticism.

Halibut Fisher Catches a Surprise
Alice Criswell, KYUK – Bethel
Fishers in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta pull in all kinds of fish through out the year from rivers and streams in the area, and from the deep coastal waters on the Bering Sea. But recently, a halibut fisher in
Quinhagak was surprised to see a fish that he’d never seen before when he pulled in his line.