Alaska News Nightly: April 1, 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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House OKs Timber Payments, But Alaskans Can’t Count on It

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

A federal revenue sharing program called Secure Rural Schools has been a million-dollar boon to some Alaska cities and boroughs, mostly in Southeast. Despite the name, the money doesn’t just go to schools, and these days it’s not at all secure. But, a two-year extension of Secure Rural Schools has advanced in Congress.

Proposal Would Reject Pay Increases For Public Employees

The Associated Press

The Senate Finance Committee has included in its version of the state budget language rejecting pay raises included in contracts for more than a dozen units for the upcoming fiscal year.

Legislature Votes To End School Bond Reimbursements, But Uncertainty Lingers For Anchorage

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The Legislature has passed a bill that would put its school bond reimbursement program on hiatus. The big question is whether it will affect Anchorage’s $60 million bonding proposition.

Medicaid Expansion Bill Clears First Hurdle

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Governor Walker’s Medicaid Expansion bill has passed its first committee in the House. HB 148 was approved by the House Health and Social Services Committee Tuesday with a 6 to 1 vote.

Study Says Terrestrial Foods Can’t Replace Polar Bears’ Energy-Dense Diet

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

As sea ice continues to retreat and polar bears spend more time on shore, one question lingers…can the world’s largest species of bears survive on land-based food? A new study says, “no.”

NOAA Report Shows Slight Increase In Cook Inlet Beluga Population

Shaylon Cochran, KDLL – Kenai

A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a slight increase in the Cook Inlet Beluga whale population. But, the genetically distinct whales haven’t bounced back as fast as scientists hoped.

Youth Courts of Alaska Students Train to be Leaders

Kayla Desroches, KMXT – Kodiak

Judges in Alaska have the option to send minors to youth court for sentencing, where the bailiffs, attorneys, and judges are also their peers. Branches from across Alaska flew into Kodiak last week for the 20th Annual United Youth Courts of Alaska Conference.

Avalanche Fatality Blamed On Underestimation Of Slide Potential, Insufficient Safety Gear

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A report on a fatal avalanche near Cantwell last month says the victim and other snow machiners underestimated the snow slide potential.

How A Juneau Kid Turned His Passion Into A Profession

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Jon Devore started skiing and skydiving as a kid growing up in Juneau. Now, he skydives, speedrides and performs Hollywood stunts for a living.

Ski, Biathlon Championships in White Mountain Earn Western, Interior Athletes Trip to Arctic Winter Games

Matthew Smith, KNOM – Nome

Five western Alaska athletes will make their way to Greenland next year—after earning spots on Team Alaska for the 2016 Arctic Winter Games at the Western Interior Cross-country Ski and Biathlon championships.