Alaska News Nightly: January 20, 2015

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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Alaska’s 29th Legislature Gavels In

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The state legislature began the 29th session this afternoon. House Speaker Mike Chenault gaveled in at 1 p.m. The State Senate followed an hour later. Senate President Kevin Meyer is a Republican from Anchorage. He says the caucus has several priorities this year – the gas line, education, arctic policy and development and federal overreach, but he says the state budget will – of course – need the most attention.

Walker Adds More Commissioners To Cabinet

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Gov. Bill Walker has decided to keep two acting commissioners, and appoint one new one.

Senate Finance Considering Bringing On Former Commissioners As Consultants

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The Senate Finance Committee is considering hiring two former state commissioners to help lawmakers review state spending and address massive budget deficits.

Sen. Sullivan Weighs In On Potential State of the Union Topics

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress was Tuesday night, but the White House has been offering previews of his main proposals for weeks. Alaska’s new Republican senator, Dan Sullivan, said before it began he was expecting to hear an overly rosy depiction of unemployment.

Murkowski Named Chairman Of Interior Subcommittee Of Appropriations Panel

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Sen. Lisa Murkowski already chairs a full committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But today she was also named chairman of the Interior subcommittee of the Appropriations panel. That subcommittee essentially sets the budget for the Interior Department, as well as the Forest Service and the Indian Health Service.

Bill Would Set Up Compensation Program For Wrongfully Convicted

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Fairbanks Democratic State Representative Scott Kawasaki has pre-filed a bill that would set up a system for compensating people wrongfully convicted of crimes.

Alaska Center for Alternative Lifestyles Prepares To Open Its Doors

Zachariah Hughes, KSKA – Anchorage

Alaska has a kink community made up of people living alternative lifestyles that range from discomfort with mainstream society to unconventional sex practices. But they’ve struggled to find a space to gather. Now, after the group has weathered a lengthy tenant dispute and thousands of dollars worth of property damage, the Alaska Center for Alternative Lifestyles, or ACAL is ready to open its doors in Anchorage.

Walker Halts Demolition In Anchorage Neighborhood

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Governor Walker has put the demolition of an Anchorage property on hold. Walker told reporters on Monday that he was halting further action on the demolition of a building that houses a Subway sandwich shop in the city’s Government Hill neighborhood because the demolition is part of the Knik Arm Bridge project.

Lack Of Snow Could Again Send Iditarod Start To Fairbanks

The Associated Press

Southcentral Alaska’s lack of snow and uncertain weather is again pushing organizers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to ponder moving the start of the race from Willow to Fairbanks.

Eaglecrest Suspends Lift Operations Due To Lack Of Snow

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

Juneau’s Eaglecrest Ski Area is halting lift operations until it receives enough snow to open at least part of the upper mountain.

People With Disabilities Find Independence Through Skiing

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Earlier this month, Juneau did get some snow and Eaglecrest had its smallest chairlift going. This allowed ORCA to run its Adaptive Ski and Snowboard program, which has been teaching people with disabilities how to ski for 18 years.