Alaska News Nightly: June 25, 2010

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Governor Signs Bill Increasing Limit Paid to Injured Fishermen
Associated Press
Gov. Sean Parnell has signed legislation increasing the limit that can be paid to injured fishermen under a special fund.

The bill was among several Parnell signed today during a swing through Southeast Alaska. It raises from $2,500 to $10,000 the total allowance for a heart attack, an injury or disabling accident.

“Disclose Act” Passes Through US House
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Alaska’s Republican Congressman Don Young says a campaign finance reform bill passed in the US House infringes on freedom of speech.

The “Disclose Act” narrowly passed 219 to 206 Thursday with most Democrats and only two Republicans supporting it.  36 Democrats voted “no.”  The bill tightens the disclosure requirements for corporate and union spending on political campaigns.  Supporters say that will keep them from having undue and anonymous influence.

Juneau Lawyers Provide Special Pro Bono Service to Needy
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Attorney General Daniel Sullivan was in Juneau Thursday to sign up members of the Juneau Bar Association to work as Pro Bono or Public volunteer attorneys.

A similar presentation in Anchorage last month drew 11 new participants in programs that offer no-cost services to the needy.  The volunteers are needed primarily to help victims of domestic violence – for legal protection and child custody issues, as well as for helping resolve financial difficulties.  

Haines Crabs Show Harmless Levels of Toxins
Tara Bicknell, KHNS – Haines
Dungeness crab tested in the Haines area show harmless levels of the toxins that cause Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. Five cases of PSP poisoning including two deaths linked to the toxin have been documented in Alaska in recent weeks.

Bill Lowers Cruise Ship Passenger Head Tax
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Governor Sean Parnell signed a bill on Thursday lowering Alaska’s cruise ship passenger head tax. He inked the legislation in Juneau’s tourism district while surrounded by cruise officials, gift-shop owners and excursion operators.

Kensington Mine Producing Gold Concentrate
Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau
The Kensington mine is now producing gold concentrate. Production at the Berner’s Bay facility north of Juneau officially started Thursday – a week ahead of schedule.

It’s been nearly 20 years in the planning and construction. A lawsuit based on disposal of the mine’s tailings at lower Slate Lake even went all the way up to the US Supreme Court. A decision handed down last year allowed construction to resume.

Alaska Native Staffers Keep Senators on Top of Everything
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Alaska’s Congressional offices in Washington have to be “in the know” on a huge range of topics and issues.  And it’s up to the staffers to keep their bosses on top of everything.

In the offices of Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Mark Begich, two young Alaska Native women have vital roles when it comes to Native issues.

Native Leaders Gather in Fairbanks
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Alaska Native leaders are gathering in Fairbanks in anticipation of a meeting Monday with US Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk.

Alaska Couple Battling Invasive Plants
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks  
An Alaska couple has made it their mission to battle the spread of invasive weeds in Alaska.

Troy and Lori Zaumseil of Anchorage, travel the state, pulling weeds and talking  about the danger invasive plants pose to Alaska ecosystem. Troy Zaumseil, a lifelong Alaskan says the couple took notice of the weed problem after finding a hitchhiker in a plant they bought at a big box store, and started seeing invasives, like white sweet clover, in the environment.

Ireland’s Consul General Visits Alaska
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Gerry Staunton, Ireland’s consul general for the Western United States, is in Alaska this week on his first trip here.

Staunton and his wife, Mary, are guests of the Irish Club of Alaska, and will be attending the Scottish Highland Games in the Anchorage area this weekend.  Staunton is based in San Francisco, although his diplomatic duties take him from Colorado to Hawaii.