Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN - Juneau
agutierrez (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.209.1799 | About Alexandra
Last week, a superior court judge scolded the redistricting board, saying that it was unnecessarily holding up the redrawing of the state’s political boundaries. Now, Democratic lawmakers are calling for non-partisan “masters” to step in and guide the redistricting process.
On Monday, BP committed to spending at least a billion dollars in Alaska over the next few years. The oil giant plans to use that money to bring two drill rigs to Prudhoe Bay and to potentially expand into undeveloped parts of that field. The announcement comes on the heels of a major change to the state’s oil tax system.
In an update to legislators on Thursday, Frank Richards with the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation explained that they’re in the process of trying to figure out the safest places to lay down the pipe, which should stretch down from the North Slope to Southcentral Alaska.
Alaska’s congressional delegation have expressed outrage over the requirement that timber communities pay back a chunk of their Secure Rural Schools subsidies as part of sequestration. But in the affected areas, there’s mostly a mood of anxiety as towns worry about what the move signals for the future.
When resources are extracted from federal lands, states are usually entitled to 50 percent of the royalties. But because of sequestration, their portion is being reduced by 5 percent. Alaska is now joining 10 other states in opposing these cuts to federal royalty payments.
Alaska has one of the most vibrant beer scenes in the country: Despite its small population, it has more breweries than denser states like Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina, and Kentucky. Every year, most of Alaska’s breweries descend on tiny Haines for their annual brew fest. This year, they celebrated their 21st birthday, and had their highest turnout yet.
On Thursday, a section of Interstate-5 fell into the Skagit River in Washington after a truck reportedly knocked into the steel framework. No one died, but the collapse did send cars did hurtling into the water. The bridge was built in 1955, and was considered to be outdated by federal standards. In Alaska, there are over a hundred bridges that fall into that obsolete category.
Last year, Paul Pozonsky resigned from his position as a hearings officer for the state Department of Labor following an inquiry his residency status. The situation was odd for a number of reasons. For one, there were questions about whether Pozonsky landed the job because of his family’s political connections in Alaska. Then, there was the fact that he was being investigated by a grand jury in Pennsylvania for actions he took while he was a judge there. Now, that investigation is complete, and Pozonsky is facing trial for allegedly stealing cocaine that was being used as evidence in cases that the presided over.
There are a lot of rules if you want to gather signatures to get a question on the ballot. You have to be at least 18. You can’t share your petition booklet with other people. And you have to be a resident of the state of Alaska. Now, a man from Wisconsin wants that last part of the law struck down, and he’s taking his case to court.
When voters head to the polls next year, they could be faced with questions on oil taxes, the minimum wage, and the use of recreational marijuana. But one thing that won’t be on the ballot is a referendum on a controversial bill concerning cruise ship waste.
Across the North Slope, there are over a hundred oil wells drilled by the federal government that are no longer operational. At some sites, there are abandoned drums sunk in oil seeps; other wells have gas leaking from them. On Wednesday, the Bureau of Land Management released a draft plan identifying 50 of these so-called “legacy wells” for clean up.
With two big studies out on the proposed Pebble Mine, there’s been a fight over whether work by the Pebble Partnership or the Environmental Protection Agency is more credible. Now, members of a science panel sponsored by the Pebble Partnership are criticizing the Partnership’s own research.
At the onset of World War II, the territory of Alaska was seen as too big, too remote, and too sparsely populated to defend. That is, until it was attacked by Japanese forces. In response, a few thousand residents came together to form the Alaska Territorial Guard. Once the war was over, the guard disbanded, and those who served went back to their daily lives. But they were never formally released from duty. Decades later, these guardsmen are now finally getting their discharge papers.
For months, there has been speculation as to whether Gov. Sean Parnell would run for reelection or choose to go up against Democrat Mark Begich in the Senate race. Tonight, he made his announcement in Fairbanks at a meeting of the Republican Women.
Over the past few months, states like Kansas and North Dakota have moved so-called “fetal personhood” measures forward as a challenge to Roe v. Wade. Friday, Alaska’s Supreme Court reaffirmed that such anti-abortion laws would not hold up in this state.
If this legislative session was all about oil, the next one could be more focused on natural gas. The end goal is a pipeline capable of moving the massive supply of gas on North Slope to market.
With the signature booklets hot off the printers, opponents of a controversial tax cut for oil companies should be able to start gathering support for their referendum Tuesday.
Cities across the state are facing parking ticket holidays after being caught off guard by a change in statute that passed years ago.