Alaska News Nightly: March 17, 2011

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via email, podcast and RSS.

Download Audio (MP3)

Alaska Attorney General Stands Firm On Health Care Reform
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Alaska’s Attorney General Designee John J. Burns stands by his advice to Governor Sean Parnell that the federal health care reform act is unconstitutional. The advice cost the state at least a million dollars in grant funding, which Parnell last month chose not to pursue under the act.

Pick, Click, Give Program Thriving
David Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Pick, Click, Give program is getting about double the number of donations this year than it did last year. The Rasmuson Foundation announced Thursday that 3.6 percent of Alaskans are taking part in the program that redirects money from their Permanent Fund Dividends to non-profit organizations within the state. That’s up from 1.6 percent at this time last year. Additionally, the program has gotten gifts from 16,000 people totaling $1.3 million.

The Foundation has been the driving force behind the program, providing money for publicity and support since it went into effect in 2009, and the board of directors this morning committed $500,000 to continue its operation. Foundation Chairman Ed Rasmuson said there had been some early concern about public participation this year given the national economic conditions.

Rasmuson said the program is on its way to becoming part of the state’s culture, and he hopes to see it continue to grow in popularity. The deadline for requesting Permanent Fund dividends is the end of this month and links are available for the program on the application web pages.

U.S. House Votes To Cut NPR Funding
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington
The U.S. House has voted to slash funding for NPR. The Republican-led effort passed 228 to 192. Congressman Don Young does not support the cut, but he didn’t cast a vote.

Out of Japan’s struggle, Lessons To Be Learned
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
It’s hard to fathom right now, but some good will eventually come out of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Japan has the best seismic monitoring network in the world. And because of that, last week’s disaster will offer a lot of lessons for other earthquake prone areas around the globe, like Alaska.

ASEA Works To Unionize University Support Staff
Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Alaska State Employees Association has begun a recruiting drive to unionize the last unorganized University of Alaska employee group. The ASEA began seeking interest cards from the 2,500- member support staff group yesterday on campuses in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau. It’s the second time the ASEA is making a go at unionizing the group, after abandoning a similar effort last year. As KUAC’s Tim Ellis reports, health care plan changes are driving renewed interest.

Cooperative Dog Teams Becoming More Common
Tim Bodony, KIYU – Galena
Several of the competitive dog teams in this year’s Iditarod were the result of cooperative agreements between mushers. As APRN Iditarod Trail Reporter Tim Bodony reports, these cooperative arrangements could become more common in the years ahead.

State Basketball Tournament Update
Josh Edge, APRN– Anchorage
The 1-A and 2-A state basketball tournaments wrapped up Wednesday night in Anchorage. With the championship games fresh on their minds, players and coaches thought back not only to the wins that got them there, but other more intangible factors as well. APRN’s Josh Edge was at the Sullivan Arena.