Alaska News Nightly: Thursday, March 2, 2017

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Public testimony tilts against oil and gas tax overhaul

Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau

Most Alaskans who offered public testimony Wednesday on a proposed overhaul of the state’s oil and gas taxes and tax credits opposed the measure.

House majority looks to tap Permanent Fund to close budget

Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau

For years, the minority caucus in the Alaska House has had a say in the state’s budget. But that may not happen this year, as the majority caucus looks to tap Permanent Fund earnings to close the budget gap.

Should foster kids know when the state uses their benefits?

Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage

Some foster kids are eligible to receive Social Security benefits, but the kids and their families don’t always know the money is available. Instead, the state applies for the benefits and puts the funds toward paying for foster care services. Now a lawsuit is asking if the state needs to notify families and guardians before it starts taking the money. A judge heard oral arguments last month.

Murkowski, Sullivan diverge on Sessions

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media – Washington D.C.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he will not involve himself in any investigation of foreign interference in last year’s election. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was among several Republicans who called on him to recuse himself.

Murkowski joins several Democrats in challenging proposed pot enforcements

Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage

A group of U.S. senators – including one Alaskan – is asking the Justice Department to keep existing guidance on marijuana laws.

With new Interior secretary, renewed hopes for King Cove road

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media – Washington D.C.

Former Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke rode a horse to his first day of work in Washington, D.C. today. He’s the new secretary of the Interior. The position is an important one for Alaska, where more than 60 percent of the land is owned by the federal government.

State Troopers plan to move lone Haines position to Bethel

Emily Files, KHNS – Haines

Things are not looking good for Haines’ Alaska State Trooper post. AST Director Col. James Cockrell intends to reassign Haines’ one trooper position to Bethel. The decision isn’t final yet, but the community conversation about how to handle the loss continued at a Public Safety Commission meeting this week.

Bill would change state arts council to a corporation

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Lawmakers take their first look Friday at a bill changing the Alaska State Council on the Arts from an agency to a public corporation.

Scientists propose plan to help refreeze melting Arctic

Jennifer Pemberton, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Juneau

The Arctic could see its first ice-free summer as soon as 2030 as the region continues to warm faster than the rest of the planet. Some scientists think we’ve reached a point of no return, where no amount of reducing carbon emissions will save the Arctic, and a small group of scientists think it’s time for an intervention to help Mother Nature out.