Alaska News Nightly: March 28, 2011

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Some Aspects of National Health Care Law Not Carrying Over to Retirees
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
One of the most popular parts of the one-year-old national health care law is now in place for many Americans: kids can stay on their parents’ insurance longer, until age 26.  But not for Alaska’s state retirees.  Governor Sean Parnell decided not to offer them the benefit.  That’s upsetting to one family who could’ve used it.

No Decisions Made on Coastal Management Program
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The legislature is heading into the last three weeks of this year’s session – and there’s concern over the time it will take to fix the coast management program.  Two ideas have been presented in bills – one, a six-year extension without any changes to the development and permit-coordinating program, the other with a simple one year extension. Without an extension, the program will be forced to completely cease operations by July first.

Both of those bills are still in their first committees of reference.   And only one of them – the governor’s six-year extension – has been heard by legislators.

That bill has been heard seven times by the House Resources Committee where co-chair Eric Feige wants an extension for as long as possible.  He says changes can be dealt with later.

But supporters of the coastal management program want it made stronger.

That’s Bethel’s Senator Lyman Hoffman who says there’s still time this year to change the system,  and at the most, he sees the program will only need another year to finish work on the extension.

Bush Caucus chairman Reggie Joule of Kotzebue also says there’s no reason to separate the extension from the changes.  He says there’s time – and delay will not accomplish anything.

House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula agrees there’s time for change this year.  She says it’s in the best interest of various developmental industries such as oil and mining to have a strong, working management program.

Bill Proposes Lowering Legal Drinking, Smoking Ages for Military Members
Associated Press
Military members under the age of 21 would be allowed to legally drink and smoke under a bill introduced by an Alaska lawmaker.

Republican Representative Bob Lynn says that neither he nor the bill advocates drinking or smoking as a general practice. But hesays both support “equal treatment for adults and the de facto adults in America’s military.”

The legal drinking age in Alaska is 21. The legal smoking age is 19.

The bill has been referred to two House committees for consideration.

Sitka Herring Sac Fishery on Two-Hour Notice
Melati Kaye, KCAW – Sitka
The Sitka Sound herring sac roe fishery went on two-hour notice today, meaning the first opening of one of Alaska’s most lucrative fisheries could get underway at any moment now.

While anticipation is high as the fleet prepares to fish, so is speculation about prices for this year’s harvest of herring eggs. That’s because Japan is the main market.

Disaster Preparedness Gains interest in Anchorage
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
With images and stories of Japan’s post earthquake plight daily filling the media, many Alaskans have become more concerned about how safe we are.  Recently, large public interest in a disaster preparedness gathering in Anchorage meant the meeting had to move from the municipal Office of Emergency Management to the Anchorage assembly chambers.

Bethel Holds Cama-i Dance Festival
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
The three-day Cama-i Dance Festival, which features Yup’ik dancing, was held in Bethel over the weekend.

Tebughna Foundations Hosts Benefit Concert
Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage
Members of tribal groups such as the Hochunk, Navajo, and Sioux traveled to Anchorage from South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Canada for the Ida’ina powwow, which was hosted by the Tebughna Foundation, a nonprofit formed to benefit the people of Tyonek. It hosted the gathering and a benefit concert held at the Dena’ina Center in downtown Anchorage over the weekend.