Alaska News Nightly: January 29, 2014

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 and on Twitter @aprn.

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Planned Parenthood Suing Over Abortion Funding Reg

The Associated Press

Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest says it is suing over regulations in Alaska that would further define what constitutes a “medically necessary” abortion for purposes of receiving Medicaid funding.

Fire Destroys Fairbanks Apartment Building

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Fire destroyed an apartment building in Fairbanks this morning. The blaze caused multiple injuries and two residents were unaccounted for as of this morning.

Judiciary Committee Explores Omnibus Crime Bill

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Criminal justice reform may be coming to Alaska. After spending the summer collecting more information on efforts in other parts of the country, the Senate Judiciary Committee has started holding hearings again on their omnibus crime bill.

Bill Aims To Arm VPSOs As Danger Levels Rise

Zachariah Hughes, KNOM – Nome

A legislative committee discussed a proposal yesterday to allow arming village public safety officers in rural Alaska.

House Passes Bill Extending PILT, Alaska’s Village Safe Water Program

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

The  U.S. House today passed a farm bill that includes programs for Alaska unrelated to agriculture. The bill continues another year of funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes, a program that pays municipalities surrounded by federal land to compensate for the loss of tax base. The so-called PILT program sends about $26 million a year to Alaska and is a large portion of the budget for some local governments. The bill also renews Alaska’s Village Safe Water program, which gets some $30 million a year from the federal government.

State of the Union Address Irks Alaska’s Delegation

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

President Obama gave his State of the Union address last night, and the response from Alaska’s U.S. senators was swift and negative, particularly to Obama’s pledge to act without Congress where he can.

From Paying $1,000 A Month For Health Care To $100

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

A Juneau woman says getting insurance under the Affordable Care Act means she’ll take better care of herself.  Prior to January 1st, Bonnie Berg was paying up to $1000 a month for health insurance. Now, she’s paying less than $100.

Senate Panel Hears Bill On Elementary School Reading Programs

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

With education being a hot issue this legislative session, some politicians are looking at the basics of learning in their effort to improve student outcomes. Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee held its first hearing on a bill that would establish a reading program targeted at kindergarten through third grade.

Richardson Highway Opens North Of Mile 19

Tony Gorman, KCHU – Valdez

The Alaska Department of Transportation opened up a section of the Richardson Highway today. DOT cleared avalanches from the road north of mile 19, but the highway is still closed between Miles 12 and 19.

Can You Guess When The Road To Valdez Will Reopen?

Tony Gorman, KCHU – Valdez

Nobody knows when the Richardson Highway is going to reopen, but the Valdez Parks and Recreation Department is hoping everyone has a fun time guessing.

They’ve started a Nenana Classic-style contest to see who can accurately predict when the highway closure will end.  They hope it will be a fun distraction as residents wait for the highway to reopen.

The person who guesses the closest time will win a prize package worth $100.

Baranof Goat Study Unlocks Clues To Island’s Paleo Past

Emily Forman, KCAW – Sitka

A study to help establish goat hunting guidelines on Baranof Island has revealed much more than how to manage the goat population. It has sparked a mystery. And it’s offered clues to what the island looked like before there were hunters.

Nauman May Be The Only Woman In This Year’s Yukon Quest, But She’s One Tough Rookie

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

There’s only one woman in the Yukon Quest field of 18 mushers.

Fairbanks Musher Mandy Nauman has been training dogs for the last eight years.