Alaska News Nightly: February 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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Arctic Drilling Regs Require Relief Rig; Shell Sees ‘Critical’ Flexibility

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

The Department of Interior today released proposed new Arctic-specific drilling standards for offshore oil exploration. They would require an Arctic operator to have a well cap at hand, but more controversially, a rig on standby that can drill a relief well within 45 days if there’s a blowout.

University of Alaska Board Of Regents Approves 5% Tuition Increase

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

The University of Alaska Board of Regents on Friday voted 8-2 in favor of a 5 percent tuition increase, in an effort to gain ground on the University’s budget shortfall.

Board of Fisheries Nominee Withdraws

Shady Grove Oliver, KBBI – Homer

Governor Bill Walker’s nominee to the Board of Fisheries has withdrawn his name from consideration.

Anchorage Man Indicted On Sex Trafficking, Sexual Assault, Weapons Misconduct Charges

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

An Anchorage man was indicted by a Grand jury this week on multiple charges involving sex trafficking, sexual assault and weapons misconduct. Xavier Lanell Cook Benson is facing 12 counts related to what law enforcement officials allege  in a written release, was a brutal and exploitative sex trafficking and prostitution operation in Anchorage, Juneau, Kenai and Fairbanks.

After Providers Lobby, Walker Reverses Cuts To Homeless Programs

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

Advocates for the homeless in Alaska are rejoicing after Gov. Bill Walker this week released an updated budget proposal that restores funding for housing and homelessness services statewide.

The governor had initially zeroed out the funding in light of the state’s multibillion dollar shortfall. But the Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness leaned on the administration to restore it.

New Prelim ASD Budget Reinstates Middle School Model

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

The Anchorage School Board unanimously passed next year’s $784 million preliminary budget at their meeting last night. It includes money for giving equal planning time to all middle school teachers and supplements the language immersion programs. But until the state legislature passes its budget, this one could still change.

Iron Dog Snowmachine Race Primed For Big Lake Start

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Iron Dog snowmachine race gets underway this weekend, and there are some changes to the race route, which takes riders from Big Lake to Nome and then to Fairbanks.

AK: Tracking Halibut

Amanda Compton, APRN Contributor

Pacific halibut are one of Alaska’s most valuable fish. But we know surprisingly little about what happens to the species during an important time in their life – their spawning period. Amanda Compton caught up with a study in Glacier Bay focused on just how halibut spawn using a special type of tracking equipment.

300 Villages: Douglas

This week, we’re heading to Douglas- a former gold mining town that’s now part of the Juneau Borough but still maintains its unique character. Ed Schoenfeld is News Director for CoastAlaska. He’s also a musician who’s written half a dozen songs about his community.