Alaska News Nightly: December 11, 2013

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @aprn.

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Big Outside Money Expected For US Senate Race

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Outside money is expected to pour into the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Mark Begich, and the first of it is making a splash across Alaska’s TV sets. Last month, it was an anti-Begich ad from Americans for Prosperity, a group linked to conservative billionaires David and Charles Koch. Now a pro-Begich super PAC is weighing in with an ad of its own. Alaskans can expect a lot more in the months to come.

Study Investigates Two Decades Of APD Officer-Involved Shootings

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

The University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center presented findings today from a study about officer involved shootings in Anchorage. The study was an attempt to show the recipe for the cases where officers open fire on suspects, but it produced conflicting data. One thing that did stand out in the study is that in many cases, the suspects who are shot use vehicles as weapons.

Department of Administration Gets New Acting Commissioner

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The Department of Administration has a new acting commissioner. Curtis Thayer has been promoted from his deputy position, and he will be taking over for Becky Hultberg, who left the position for a job with the state hospital association.

In the past, Thayer has worked for the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, and for the utility ENSTAR. While at the Department of Administration, Thayer has helped implement a policy of “universal space standards,” which put most state workers in 6′ by 8′ cubicles.

Report: 398 Alaskans Pick Marketplace Plans

The Associated Press

Government figures show 398 Alaskans signed up for private health insurance during the first two months of the online marketplace.

The federally run site that provides access for individuals to shop for insurance to help meet requirements of the new health care law has been marred by glitches since its October 1st launch.

Prior figures released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed 53 Alaskans signed up during the first month of enrollment.

In 36 states, including Alaska, which have relied on the federally run site for access, about 137,000 individuals had selected plans as of November 30th. More than 227,000 individuals signed up in states running their own sites.

Open enrollment runs through March, but December 23rd is the deadline to enroll for coverage beginning January 1st.

Public Tells Commissioners HB77 Concerns

Shaylon Cochran, KDLL – Kenai

A coalition of fisheries related business is holding a public forum in Anchorage tonight on House Bill 77. The controversial legislation would streamline permitting for the Department of Natural Resources. Earlier this week, people packed into the borough assembly chambers in Soldotna for a meeting on the issue. Not one member of the public testified in favor of the bill.

Recent Warm Up Affects Subsistence Gathering

Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel

Normally in December, the Bethel area is covered in snow and ice. But it’s been unseasonable warm so far. In fact, Bethel broke a record Friday reaching 48 degrees. And it’s affecting subsistence gathering.

Maritime Refuge Eyeing Invasive Cattle On Two Islands

Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking for input from the public on how best to deal with about 1,000 head of cattle on two islands in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.

Governor Continues 100-Year-Old Holiday Tradition

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Russian tea cookies, white chocolate coconut clusters, and star-shaped butter cookies are just a small sampling of what was available Tuesday afternoon at the Governor’s Annual Christmas and Holiday Open House.