Alaska News Nightly: March 22, 2010

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House OKs Major Health Care Overhaul
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
In a historic vote last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that will overhaul the nation’s health care system.

Parnell Says Health Care Legislation is Unconstitutional
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage and Libby Casey, APRN – Washington
Gov. Sean Parnell says he thinks the new health care legislation is unconstitutional. But he stopped short of joining at least ten other states who are combining forces to challenge the constitutionality of the bill.

Scholarship Plan Debated in Juneau
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
In its opening hearing on a bill setting up a university-level scholarship program the governor is sponsoring this year,  the House Finance Committee on Monday  spent much of its time focusing on the costs – and shortfalls – of providing the required four-year curriculum that will fall on local school districts.

Some Fish Near Old Bases Have Higher Levels of Contaminants
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
Fish found in the western Aleutians close to decommissioned military sites have higher levels of contaminants than fish found in other areas of that region.

Tourism Group Getting Behind Parnell on Cutting Cruise Tax
A major tourism group is getting behind Gov. Sean Parnell’s push to cut the cruise ship head tax. But tax authors and some in the legislature are questioning the move.

No Deaths During Iditarod Race
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
This year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race chalked up a record four in a row wins for Lance Mackey, but the race made headlines of another kind.  For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, no dogs died on the trail.  That’s good news. Six dogs died last year, a record for the race.

Mushers Helping Support Care for Autistic Children in Bush
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Parents caring for autistic children face challenges anywhere they live, but in rural Alaska, where a child can wander into angers not faced by urban youngsters,  keeping up with the challenge can be daunting. One Unalakleet family is dealing with exactly that problem, and they have come up with a unique solution, with the help of Iditarod mushers.

TB Fighers Honored in Sitka
Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka
In the first half of the 20th century, Tuberculosis was a major epidemic in Alaska, and its effects were particularly harsh on rural Native communities. A presentation last week at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall addressed that history, and also honored some of the era’s front-line fighters against TB.