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Liz Ruskin, APRN

lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz

Kerry Names Ex-Coast Guard Boss Special Rep to Arctic

Secretary of State John Kerry today named former Coast Guard commandant Robert J. Papp Jr. as special representative to the Arctic. Kerry created the new position to elevate Arctic issues in America’s foreign policy and national security strategy as the U.S. prepares to assume the chair of the Arctic Council.

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July 16, 2014

Murkowski Joins Democrats on Vote for Birth Control Coverage

A U.S. Senate bill requiring companies to cover birth control in employee healthcare plans failed a procedural vote today . Both Alaska senators voted for the bill, aimed at undoing the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of only three Republicans to vote for the measure, dubbed the “Not My Boss’s Business Act.”

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July 16, 2014

House Considers Bill To Provide Advance Funding To IHS

The CEO of Kotzebue-based Maniilaq Association on Tuesday urged a U.S. House subcommittee to pass a bill that would provide advance funding for the Indian Health Service.

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July 15, 2014

Sullivan Reports Almost $1.2M In Donations In 2nd Quarter

In the U.S. Senate race, it appears Republican candidate Dan Sullivan is sustaining his fundraising momentum.

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July 15, 2014

Denali Commission Money Survives House

Congressman Don Young fends off incursion from fiscal hawks, but the commission remains a shadow of its former self.

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July 11, 2014

Sportsmen’s Bill Falls to Senate Gridlock

A bill to ensure hunters have access to federal land was blocked in the U.S. Senate today, even though nearly half the Senate had co-sponsored it. Sen. Lisa Murkowski , who crafted the bill, was spitting nails after it was derailed. It’s the latest round of an ongoing fight over whether to allow amendments – in this case, amendments about gun control – on the Senate floor.

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July 10, 2014
Mead Treadwell, ‘Big-Picture Guy,’ Runs for U.S. Senate

Mead Treadwell, ‘Big-Picture Guy,’ Runs for U.S. Senate

Some people go into politics for prestige, some for power. Talk to Mead Treadwell for a while and it’s clear, he just loves policy. This is the first in a series about the three Republicans vying for the chance to challenge Sen. Mark Begich in November.

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July 10, 2014

Begich Co-Sponsors Bill Responding To Hobby Lobby Decision

Senator Mark Begich today joined other Democrats in sponsoring a bill that would make it illegal for a company to deny employees certain health benefits, including birth control, if they are required to be covered by federal health care law.

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July 9, 2014

U.S. Senator Still After ANC Contracting Advantages

A U.S. Senator from Missouri is continuing her crackdown on the advantages Alaska Native Corporations enjoy in government contracting.

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July 2, 2014

Treadwell Urges US to Check Putin in Arctic; Sullivan Spotlights ‘Pro-Putin Rally’

In a recent presentation in Washington, D.C., Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell spoke of the need to stay on neighborly terms with Russia. It’s caused a bit of a ruckus. Dan Sullivan, Treadwell’s rival in the GOP primary for U.S Senate, issued an email yesterday saying Treadwell attended a “pro-Putin rally,” echoing the words of an anti-Russian columnist who denounced the conference where Treadwell spoke.

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July 1, 2014

U.S. House Passes Bill To Open NPR-A

For the second time in six months, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill aimed at greater oil industry access to the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

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June 27, 2014

Senate Bill Includes $6 Million For New Icebreaker

A bill moving through the U.S. Senate has $6 million for a new Coast Guard icebreaker. That would make three years in a row of small appropriations for the ship, projected to cost nearly a billion dollars. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is on a mission to get Congress and the Administration to make Arctic issues a bigger priority.

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June 26, 2014

All Hope for Knik Bridge Rides on Federal Decision

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell on Friday signed a bill to finance a $900 million bridge across Knik Arm. A decade ago, bridge proponents hoped to fund the project entirely with federal earmarks. But then Congress banned earmarks, in part due to public outrage over this bridge and another in Ketchikan, both derided nationally as “bridges to nowhere.” Now, the Knik project all depends on winning a low-interest from a federal program known as TIFIA.

June 24, 2014

Gov. Parnell Signs Bill To Finance KABATA

Governor Sean Parnell on Friday signed a bill to finance a $900 million bridge across Knik Arm, from Anchorage to Point McKenzie. Bridge proponents originally wanted to fund the project entirely with federal earmarks. But then Congress banned earmarks, in part due to public outrage over this bridge and another in Ketchikan, both derided nationally as “bridges to nowhere.” The new Knik bridge plan is contingent on low-interest loans from the federal government.

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June 23, 2014

Ethics Panel: Rep. Young Misused Campaign Funds, Took Improper Gifts

The House Ethics Committee today issued a letter of reprimand to Alaska Congressman Don Young for spending campaign money on trips to hunting lodges and improperly accepting gifts, many of them from lobbyists and related to travel.

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June 20, 2014

House Ethics panel: Young Misused Campaign Funds, Accepted Improper Gifts

The U.S. House Ethics Committee today issued a letter of reproval to Alaska Congressman Don Young for accepting multiple hunting trips as gifts in violation of the House Gift Rule. The committee says he should repay $59,000 for gifts and expenses related to 15 hunting trips between 2001 and 2013.

June 20, 2014

U.S. Senators Work to Allow Foreign Students Back in Fish Plants

In Congress today, a bill that would allow foreign students to work in Alaska fish processing plants cleared a major committee. The provision is part of a spending bill now headed to the Senate floor. Both Alaska senators say they pressed for the return of the J-1 visa program to help meet demand for seasonal seafood processors. But, the program is controversial.

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June 19, 2014

Alaska Communities to See More PILT

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced today the government is sending $28.5 million to local governments in Alaska to compensate them for the tax-exempt federal land within their boundaries. It’s called “Payment-in-lieu of taxes” and this year’s total is $2 million higher than last year.

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June 17, 2014

Obama Administration Shines Spotlight on Oceans

President Obama announced today he intends to vastly expand the Pacific Remote Islands marine sanctuary, putting a swath of the south-central Pacific off-limits to fishing and energy development. The announcement is part of a high-profile oceans conference taking place this week at the State Department. Australian scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg focused on ocean acidification, which he says undermines the entire marine food chain – from plankton and shellfish to bowhead whales.

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June 17, 2014

Begich Painted as Soft on VA Scandal

Outside political groups are plugging Alaskan airwaves with ads about Sen. Mark Begich. One recent line of attack highlights the scandal at the VA, claiming Begich isn’t helping veterans. We take a closer look at the claim.

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June 13, 2014