Alaska News Nightly: Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016

Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @aprn.

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In a day, Murkowski changes her tone on court nominee

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington D.C.

Yesterday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she believes it’s “important” that the Senate hold a hearing on President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court. “I do believe that the nominee should get a hearing,” she said then. Today, on Twitter, Murkowski essentially said there should be no nominee.

GAO: Rush imperils missile defense

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington D.C.

A new report raises doubts about whether the missile defense system housed largely at Fort Greely can protect the U.S. from a North Korean attack. The GAO says the Missile Defense Agency is compromising reliability with a rushed schedule as it expands the number of interceptors at Greely to 40.

UA opposes bill that would allow for concealed carrying on campus

Robert Hannon, KUAC – Fairbanks

The University of Alaska is opposing a bill introduced by a Fairbanks state senator. SB 174 would remove restrictions for the carrying of concealed firearms on college campuses. The bill received a vetting yesterday in by Senate Education committee.

State leaders look to fix Alaskan health issues

Andrew Kitchenman,  APRN/KTOO – Juneau

Medicaid is one of the biggest drivers of Alaska’s state spending. At the same time, Alaska has the nation’s highest suicide rate, and a growing problem with opioid addiction. There is a new effort to address both issues. State leaders believe they can lower the long term growth in Medicaid costs – and make Alaskans healthier mentally and physically.

Palmer heroin dealer to face federal charges

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

A 26-year-old Palmer man is facing federal charges on distribution of heroin resulting in a death.

Former Juneau lawmaker fined $18K for allegedly helping oil companies while seeking oil jobs

Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau

Former Juneau Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch has been fined $18,104 for asking for an oil company job while sitting as a state lawmaker who helped draft oil tax legislation. But his attorney said the opinion released by a legislative ethics committee may not be the final word on the matter.

Budding cannabis entrepreneur is not who you think

Zachariah Hughes, KSKA – Anchorage

As the state readies for the implementation of a legal cannabis industry in the next few months, we’re profiling one business along every step of the way. Jane Stinson is hoping to open a family-run retail shop in Anchorage. But the last few months of tracking regulations, securing a location, and figuring out how to start a new business that banks won’t lend to has not been easy.

2016 Iron Dog Race projected to be faster and riskier

Tim Bodony, KIYU – Galina

The 2016 Iron Dog Snowmachine Race gets underway this weekend. The ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage begins Saturday morning, and then the green flag officially drops at the Big Lake starting line on Sunday at 11 am. Iron Doggers are expecting a better trail than last year.

Yukon Quest rookies help each other on the trail

Molly Rettig, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Yukon Quest is winding down. The last musher, Canadian rookie Gaeton Pierrard is expected to cross the finish line early Friday morning. Running at the back of the pack can be just as trying and rewarding as racing at the front. That was the case for rookie mushers Andy Pace and Laura Neese.