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Alaska News Nightly: June 27, 2013

June 27, 2013

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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State Keeps Medicaid Expansion Study Secret

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The state is keeping a tight lid on a study it commissioned last year on expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The expansion would provide health care coverage to about 40,000 low-income Alaskans. And the federal government would pay most of the bill. Governor Parnell has decided not to expand Medicaid, for now. The study the administration won’t release is meant to inform the Governor on whether to reconsider that position.

Wildfire Forces Closure Of Section Of Parks Highway Overnight

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

More than 500 acres of land are on fire roughly 20 miles west of Fairbanks along the George Parks Highway.  The Skinny’s Road Fire, as it’s known, jumped a containment line overnight Wednesday and prompted an overnight closure of the Parks Highway between mileposts 317 and 344.

Fire Danger Prompts Indefinite Ban On Fireworks, Wood Cutting In Fairbanks

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

There will be no fireworks on the Fourth of July in Fairbanks.  Extreme fire conditions brought the state Fire Marshall to Fairbanks on Thursday.  He joined North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins at a press conference to announce an indefinite ban on personal fireworks and local wood cutting.

KABATA Gets ‘Golden Fleece’ Award From Watchdog Group

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

A Washington-based watchdog group has given its “Golden Fleece” award to the Knik Arm bridge project in south-central Alaska.

Taxpayers for Common Sense says the group behind the project, the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority, or KABATA, “has failed Alaska’s citizens and wasted millions of federal taxpayer dollars, with little to show for it.”

Senate Passes Immigration Reform Legislation

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a massive immigration reform. It’s the largest overhaul in a generation.

Both Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich voted for the measure. Every Democrat supported the bill. Murkowski joined one third of Republicans in voting yes.

The bill spends tens of billions of dollars securing the southern border. In exchange, it provides a path to citizenship for the eleven million people living in the United States illegally.

House Speaker John Boehner says his chamber will not even take up the package. U.S. Representative Don Young says the House is likely to tackle immigration in a piecemeal approach.

White House Establishes Native Affairs Council

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

The White House is establishing a Council on Native American Affairs. It aims to elevate tribal issues beyond the Department of Interior.

What Does The Ruling On DOMA, Prop 8 Mean For Alaska?

Heather Bryant, KTOO – Juneau

The U.S. Supreme Court ended its term striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and sending a California same-sex marriage case back to the lower court.

But, the court does not affirm gay marriage as a constitutional right.

Flood Victims Having Trouble Applying For FEMA Assistance

Jeremy Scott, KIYU – Galena

People in flood-affected communities around the state say they’re having trouble applying for FEMA individual assistance via phone.

With Commercial King Fishing Closed, Quinhagak Asks Sport Fishermen To Stand Down

Sophie Evan, KYUK – Bethel

The Kanektok River in Quinhagak is world famous for sport fishing, and has been the only consistent commercial fishery on the Kuskokwim for many years. But this year, commercial fishing during the King Salmon run has been closed. And the Native Village of Quinhagak is asking that sport fishermen also stand down.

Backyard Boat Building In Sitka

Erik Neumann, KCAW – Sitka

Sitka’s rich history of wooden boat building began with the sturdy, ocean-going dugout canoes of local Natives, and peaked in the early 20th Century, when the harbors were filled with wooden trollers, seiners, and seal boats.

Since then, wood has all but been replaced by fiberglass, steel, and aluminum, and it’s easy to think about wooden boats more as museum artifacts than as functional watercraft.

But Sitkan Mark Howey sees wooden boats differently. He’s built three small skiffs in his backyard shop, and a fourth is on the way. KCAW’s Erik Neumann recently dropped by Howey’s shop to learn how he’s keeping Sitka’s wooden boat tradition alive.

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