Early next year, Alaskans will be able to legally buy, transport, and use small amounts of marijuana. The initiative will not be law until three months after the vote is certified, and the state has more time to come up with rules for marijuana sales.
The Alaska Marine Highway System will no longer allow children and teenagers under 18 to travel solo.
Y-K Delta Senator Lyman Hoffman will be caucusing with the Majority Caucus. The group met Wednesday in Anchorage to organize and name leadership. Hoffman is the first Democrat to join this version of the 15-person body. He says he’s had positive experiences working with members on gasline legislation.
The Anchorage School District made their case for increasing state education funding to legislators during a luncheon Thursday. With the current funding formula, the district projects they will cut 720 jobs over the next three years. Class sizes will increase to about 10 more students per class than evidence-based research recommends.
Two days after the election, both Alaska’s senate race and its gubernatorial race remain undecided, and both incumbents are lagging behind their challengers. Democratic Sen. Mark Begich is down by 8,000 votes in his race against Republican Dan Sullivan, while Republican Gov. Sean Parnell trails unaffiliated candidate Bill Walker by 3,000 votes. Neither candidate plans to concede at this point, and at least 20,000 votes still need to be counted next week. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez ran the numbers on both of those races, and joins us to talk about the trends she’s seeing.
The Republican Senate Majority has named a new president. Sen. Kevin Meyer of Anchorage will be taking the reins from Wasilla’s Charlie Huggins. Huggins will take the position of rules chair.
With a few candidates up and down the ballot unsure whether they won or lost, a lot of Alaskans are looking to the thousands of ballots that remain uncounted. Division of Elections chief Gail Fenumiai says it’s unclear exactly how many ballots are outstanding.
Alaska’s minimum wage initiative flew mostly under the radar this fall, overshadowed by high-profile Congressional races. But ballot measure three proposes a big change to state’s minimum wage structure — increasing it by two dollars over the next two years, to $9.75 an hour. After that, it would be adjusted for inflation. In Unalaska, at least 83 percent of voters supported that plan. The seafood industry — which is the biggest source of minimum wage jobs in Unalaska — didn’t expect anything less.
Anchorage voters repealed AO-37, the controversial labor law, during Tuesday’s election. They returned many incumbents and also sent some new Republicans to the state legislature as well.
The House District 36 race remains too close to call after Tuesday’s general election. With all 10 precincts reporting to the Alaska Division of Elections, Dan Ortiz, who is not affiliated with any party, has a 19-vote lead. He holds 50.03 percent of the vote, compared to 49.66 percent for Republican Chere Klein.
Juneau voters went against the national and statewide Republican trend Tuesday, backing Democratic candidates for Alaska’s Congressional seats. They also supported the three initiatives on the general election ballot by wide margins.
Republican Dan Sullivan appears to be Alaska’s next US Senator. The former Attorney General and Natural Resources Commissioner was up 8-thousand votes with all precincts reporting. The Kuskokwim Delta, however, came out for the Democrat Mark Begich, with 70 percent Bethel voters supporting Begich to Sullivan’s 25 percent.
The first time Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins ran for State House, in 2012 at the tender age of 23, he squeaked through, beating Haines Republican Bill Thomas by just 32 votes. The candidates had to wait weeks for the final results. Not this time. On Tuesday night, Kreiss-Tomkins, now 25, won convincingly.
All three of the capital city’s state lawmakers handily won re-election Tuesday. Sen. Dennis Egan and Reps. Cathy Muñoz and Sam Kito III all got at least 60 percent of the votes counted in their respective races on Election Day.
Although absentee and questioned ballots yet to be counted could change the outcome, it is likely that Proposition 2, which legalizes recreational marijuana use in Alaska, has gained voter approval.
There were no surprises in the returns of the Mat Su races after Tuesday’s vote count was tallied.