Alaska News Nightly: Wednesday, Mar. 16, 2016

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Obama’s Supreme Court nomination draws criticism and praise

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington D.C.

President Obama Wednesday nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Both of Alaska’s U.S. senators issued written statements reaffirming their support for the Senate’s Republican leaders, who are refusing to hold a hearing or a vote on the nominee.

Push to label GE food, including salmon, has staunch opponents

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington D.C.

This morning, the U.S. Senate considered a bill to block state labeling mandates for GMO foods, including fish. The bill didn’t get enough votes to advance, but the debate shows the forces Sen. Lisa Murkowski is up against as she tries to require consumer labels for genetically engineered salmon.

Arctic Council arrives in Fairbanks

Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau

Every hotel is booked up solid in Fairbanks this week, and rental cars are hard to find. Over a thousand people from 30 different countries are in the Golden Heart City for a meeting of Arctic scientists and policymakers called Arctic Science Summit Week. One of the highlights includes a meeting of the Arctic Council, a multinational governmental forum created to address the Arctic’s pressing issues.

State contemplates how it will pay for the budget

Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau

As the state legislature begins the final month of the session- one big question is looming: How are lawmakers going to pay for the budget?

Lawmakers struggle to fund pioneer senior homes

Emily Kwong, KCAW – Sitka

The pioneer home system is older than the state of Alaska. The first home, in Sitka, was repurposed from abandoned marine barracks in 1913. The state-funded system now operates in six locations and provides care to 440 of Alaska’s senior citizens. And demand is only growing. But as lawmakers grapple with the budget, some wonder whether the state can keep funding the homes at all.

Ken Koelsch wins Juneau mayor’s seat

Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO – Juneau

Ken Koelsch will be Juneau’s new mayor. Unofficial results from Tuesday’s special election show Juneau voters backed Koelsch with 59 percent of the vote.

Houston at the forefront of Mat-Su marijuana legislation

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

When Alaska voters approved legalization of recreational pot and retail sales of marijuana products in 2014, they also approved the right of local governments to ban commercial marijuana grow operations or pot sales within city limits. Two cities in the Matanuska Susitna Borough have opted to ban marijuana sales and grow operations. But Houston is aiming to bolster its city revenues with legal marijuana commerce.

Bristol Bay fishermen tour the East Coast

Molly Dischner, KDLG – Dillingham

During a whirlwind east coast tour this month, a group of young Alaska fishermen had the chance to visit the Boston Seafood Show, participate in Slow Fish in New Orleans, and share their concerns with Alaska’s congressional delegations.