Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN - Juneau
agutierrez (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.209.1799 | About Alexandra
Even though the federal government is shut down, poor women and children can still get food vouchers through the State of Alaska. The Women, Infants, and Children Supplement Nutrition — or “WIC” — program should be able to operate until the end of the month, according to the Alaska Department of Health.
This morning, hundreds of workers trickled out of Juneau’s federal office carrying boxes of personal items, plants, and even pet fish — basically, any personal items they might want during their furlough. They won’t be allowed back to their desk until Congress agrees to fund the federal government. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez caught up with some of these workers Tuesday and brings us their voices on dealing with the shutdown.
A shutdown of federal government was triggered Monday night, after House Republicans tried to use a funding resolution to stop implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Alaska’s two senators came out against the tactic, and both let a clean resolution without the health care rider move forward. But what would the Republican Senate candidates who are challenging Begich have done if they had been in office instead?
In just a few hours, we’ll find out whether the federal government will stay open. For days, Congress has struggled to pass a budget, because a bloc of Republicans want to cut out funding for the Affordable Care Act. If Congress doesn’t reach a resolution, it’ll be the first shutdown in nearly 20 years. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez explains what that means for Alaskans, laying out the five biggest impacts.
The 2013 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend will be $900, according to acting Revenue Commissioner Angela Rodell. Checks will be distributed Oct. 3.
A high school diploma is supposed to be a sign of readiness for the next step, whether that’s getting a job or going to college. But in Alaska, it turns out that most of the high school graduates who enter the state university system aren’t ready for the work.
Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan is stepping down from his post amid talk that he’s planning a run for U.S. Senate. Republicans see incumbent Mark Begich’s seat as one of the keys to taking control of Congress, and the race is already getting heated.
A former legislator from Nenana is being fined $18,000 for breaking state ethics rules. An investigation found that Alan Dick, a Republican who served one term in the house, had charged the state and his campaign account for the same travel expenses and that he let family members live in his legislative office.
The State has committed to a formal working relationship with a major Japanese financial institution that wants to develop natural gas projects.
Every year, the state spends $100 million on school districts’ utility bills. Back in 2010, the legislature established a loan program to help bring down those costs. The loans would cover energy upgrades to public buildings, and they would be paid back with the money saved on heating fuel. But even though rising energy costs continue to be problem for districts, schools haven’t used the funds as a fix.
After a bill gets signed into law, coming up with the regulations to implement it is supposed to be the boring part. But when it comes to oil taxes, the way regulations are written could mean millions of dollars for either the state, or for oil companies. Now, both supporters and opponents of the recently passed tax overhaul aren’t totally pleased with how the regulatory process is going.
Alaska, and 21 other states, are supporting the Nation Rifle Association in a lawsuit against the federal government. The case, which is before the Supreme Court, will decide whether a federal ban on selling handguns to anyone under the age of 21 is constitutional.
Alaska and Virginia are the only states in the country to operate their own commercial spaceports. Now, the two states have decided to team up and form a sort of space alliance.
The Obama Administration announced Thursday that it won’t sue states like Alaska that allow medical marijuana. Not only that, it won’t sue Colorado or Washington for legalizing recreational use of the drug, something that Alaska might do next year.
This year, Alaska got the OK to start judging schools using its own measurements instead of the standards required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. But with new metrics come new — and more difficult — tests, and state officials are expecting to see student performance fall as a result.
Over the past ten years, state education funding has more than doubled while student enrollment has stayed about the same. Still, educational outcomes haven’t seen dramatic improvement.