Alaska News Nightly: March 12, 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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U.S. Arctic Rep: Russia’s Arctic Buildup Not Necessarily Martial

Liz Ruskin, APRN-Washington
Robert Papp, the U.S. special representative for the Arctic, says he questions reports that Russia has launched a major military buildup in the Arctic. Papp says he’s asking U.S. intelligence agencies to look beyond Russia’s military swagger for a realistic view of its Arctic activities. Papp says Moscow could be adding infrastructure for general use in the north.

House Begins Debating Operating Budget

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN-Juneau
Debate on the state’s operating budget is now underway  in the Alaska House of Representatives. Democrats have proposed 22 amendments, and discussion of the bill is expected to last into the late hours. The minority opened with an effort to restore Medicaid expansion to the operating budget.

House Speaker Reattempts Agrium Tax Credit

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN-Juneau
The Alaska Department of Revenue expects a proposed tax credit for the Agrium fertilizer plant in Nikiski to cost the state between $3 million and $4 million in foregone revenue annually.

Coast Guard to Train for Shooting at Docks 

Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB-Unalaska
The Coast Guard is teaming up with emergency personnel in Unalaska to practice their response to a mass shooting on the docks — in one of the region’s busiest ports.

Demboski Draws Mat-Su PAC Support for Anchorage Mayor

Zachariah Hughes, KSKA- Anchorage
A conservative Political Action Committee in the Mat-Su valley is wading into the Anchorage mayor’s race. The Palmer-based group is endorsing Amy Demboski’s mayoral campaign, in part because of her conservative stance on a contentious equal rights (bill) *measure* in Anchorage.

Broad Donor Rolls and Deep Pockets in Anchorage Mayor’s Race

Zachariah Hughes, KSKA-Anchorage
Candidates Dan Coffey and Andrew Halcro have raised the most money in the Anchorage mayor’s race.

Swanson’s Employees Embrace for Change

Ben Matheson, KYUK-Bethel
Following the announcement that Swanson’s grocery store would be closing, a rapid response team from the Alaska Department of Labor was dispatched to Bethel Wednesday.

Village Corporation, Tribe at Odds Over Mineral Deposits

Matt Martin, KDLG-Dillingham

Interest in a potential gold and copper deposit near Nondalton has put the village’s tribe and corporation at odds. Nondalton’s village corporation Kijik has entered into an agreement to explore the Groundhog claims, and that doesn’t sit well with all shareholders.

Dogs in Tow More Common This Iditarod

Emily Schwing, APRN Contributor
Whether sled dogs are in need of rest will start to show as teams near the halfway mark in this year’s race.  More mushers than ever are towing trailers behind their sleds to carry dogs as they travel down the trail. The jury is still out on whether the method actually does benefit dogs.

NCAA Rifle Champions Showcase Expert Shooters

Dan Bross, KUAC-Fairbanks
The National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 Rifle Championships are being held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Friday and Saturday. The championships bring together shooters capable of extreme accuracy.