Alaska News Nightly: October 1, 2014

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

Download Audio

Minimum Wage Campaign Running Without Organized Opposition

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

This past legislative session, a bill that would have raised the minimum wage was among the most divisive items under consideration. Now, a citizen’s initiative to do the exact same thing is about the least controversial question on this year’s ballot.

There’s no spirited dissent to the proposition, and polls show the measure passing by a margin of two to one. So why is that? APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez looks at how the minimum wage campaign found itself running without organized opposition.

Federal Grants Boost Services at Aleutian-Pribilof Clinics

Annie Ropeik, KUCB – Unalaska

Community health centers in the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands will get at least $600,000 in federal grant money for new services this year. The grants are aimed in part at helping new patients who enrolled in health plans under the Affordable Care Act. But there aren’t many of those in the Aleutian Islands. Instead, providers will use the money for the patients they already have.

No Confirmed Cases Of Unusual Respiratory Illness In Alaska

The Associated Press

The manager of Alaska’s infectious disease program says it wouldn’t be surprising if an unusual respiratory illness that has affected children in the Lower 48 is detected soon in Alaska.

So far, Dr. Michael Cooper said Alaska has not had any confirmed cases of enterovirus 68.

The virus can cause mild to severe illness, with the worst cases needing life support for breathing difficulties. Kids with asthma have been especially vulnerable.

The state health department says infection occurs through close contact with someone who is infected or by touching one’s mouth, eyes or nose after touching a contaminated surface. The department says there are no specific anti-viral medications for the illness.

To guard against respiratory illnesses, the department recommends good hygiene and getting a flu shot in early fall.

Federal Agency Expresses Concern With Dam Studies

The Associated Press

A federal fisheries agency has raised concerns about the accuracy of some studies being conducted for a massive proposed dam in south-central Alaska.

In a letter to the project manager for the Susitna-Watana dam, the regional administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, James Balsiger, said new study requests can’t be developed given the current problems with the data.

Among other things, he questioned the accuracy of the identification of fish species.

Project spokeswoman Emily Ford said overall, the Alaska Energy Authority, which is pursuing the project, is confident in the information it is gathering.

She said the comments raised by agencies and others will be discussed during an upcoming round of technical meetings, at which the authority also will discuss its plans for next year.

Frontier Airlines Pulling Out Of Fairbanks Market

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Two airlines that serve Fairbanks seasonally have made decisions that will decrease flights to the Golden Heart City.  One is related to increased fuel cost.

Cruise Traffic Level, But Could Grow Soon

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Alaska’s cruise-ship season ended last week. It, and other types of tourism, attracted a similar number of visitors as in 2013. But the next few years could be different.

‘Targeted Hunting’ Permits Considered In Fairbanks Area

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is considering an option to issue “targeted hunting” permits this winter to take moose that frequent roadways in the Fairbanks area.

Health Policy Innovators Gather In Anchorage

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

A group of health policy innovators gathered at the Dena’ina center in Anchorage this morning to talk about how Alaska’s health care systems have evolved. The event is part of the Alaska Health Care Commission’s initiative to look at how Alaskans health status has improved in the last 60 years. A lot has changed in that time, including the development of an independent tribal health system.

Paul Sherry was a part of that development, first with the Tanana Chiefs Conference and then with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, where he was CEO until 2008.

Sherry says in the 50’s and 60’s health care leaders were focused on designing a health system that worked for the unique aspects of Alaska.