Nathaniel Herz, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage

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Nat Herz covers government, politics, environment and COVID-19 for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at nherz@alaskapublic.org.

Dunleavy aide who ran campaign against ranked choice voting returns to lead ‘statehood defense’

Brett Huber, a former top aide to Alaska GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy, has returned to the governor's office after running last year's campaign against the ballot measure that instituted ranked choice voting and other overhauls to the state's election system.
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Delta variant wasn’t detected in Alaska until a few weeks ago. Now it’s 40% of samples.

Officials say that delta’s fast-growing share of the samples analyzed in Alaska tracks with what’s happening across the country, as the substantially more-contagious strain crowds out others.
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Amid national wave of cyber-crime, Anchorage’s cyber-insurance policy spikes 400%

Anchorage's yearly cyber-insurance premium is set to rise to $200,000, from $50,000 under the expiring policy. The city's broker inquired with 33 different insurance companies and only its existing Bermuda-based insurer was willing to offer a quote.

Reborn Ravn eyes launch of Asian routes for 2022

The company, which right now operates solely inside Alaska, would fly between Asian hubs and destinations in the Lower 48, with stops in Anchorage for passengers to clear customs — and, potentially, to visit some tourist attractions.

Bronson’s campaign downplayed COVID-19. But his administration plans few changes to health policy.

While Dave Bronson downplayed COVID-19 on the campaign trail, questioned the existence of the pandemic and hasn't been vaccinated, Anchorage’s new health director says the virus is a very serious threat, and that he’s a “firm believer” in vaccines.

Ravn says it’s eyeing flights to Asia and the Lower 48

Ravn Alaska’s chief executive said this week that the airline is looking to expand its service beyond Alaska to the Lower 48 and Asia, using Boeing 757 jets. The new service, Rob McKinney said in...

Mosquitoes are buzzing in Southcentral Alaska in higher-than-usual numbers

There doesn’t appear to be any methodical tracking of mosquito populations in the region. But two insect experts said they seem to be worse than usual this year, perhaps thanks to snowmelt.
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Amid cyberattacks, Alaska’s top cybersecurity official quietly left his job

Mark Breunig now works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His departure came as the state spent nearly $500,000 to address a cyberattack on the Department of Health and Social Services.

APOC fines former GOP Alaska Rep. Pruitt for “widespread, serious” campaign finance violations

"Pruitt's testimony before the commission was unconvincing and appeared to be self-serving," the watchdogs wrote in a 12-page order this week. "At best, his reporting and attempted compliance with the law was haphazard. At worst, he engaged in deliberate non-reporting."

Hackers have penetrated multiple Alaska agencies this year. Here’s what we know.

State officials have revealed few details about the attacks -- particularly the one that targeted the health department. While there are still many unanswered questions, here’s what we know — and what we don’t.

With new lawsuit, Alaska Gov. Dunleavy’s administration escalates budget feud with legislators

“When there is a dispute between branches of government, we need the courts to step in,” Attorney General Treg Taylor said in a prepared statement.
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Anchorage government forgot to budget money for its mayoral transition. Now that’s being fixed.

Up to now, mayor-elect Dave Bronson's transition team was relying on volunteer labor and donated supplies. Members even brought in printers from home.

Email records: Little contact between Alaska Gov. Dunleavy’s former aide and oil company that hired him

Interest groups and some Alaska lawmakers have been scrutinizing Stevens’ move from state service to the private sector, saying the quick transition between them raises questions about whether Stevens is complying with state ethics laws.

Former Alaska Rep. LeDoux and her aide face new charges of felony voter fraud

LeDoux’s former legislative aide, Lisa Simpson, also faces two new felony charges, which could increase the pressure on her to cooperate with authorities in their efforts to convict her former boss.

In Southeast Alaska, high-end tourism businesses feast as cruise industry weathers famine

Interest in private and small-scale Alaska trips is at an all-time high, making for a booming summer for some lodge, yacht and tour operators. But tourists are arriving in far smaller numbers than many of Southeast’s cruise-focused businesses are equipped to serve.
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It’s masks off at the Alaska Capitol — but the public is still barred

The ban is keeping out summer tourists, forcing lobbyists to do business by Zoom and stopping Alaskans from witnessing key committee meetings and floor sessions in-person.
Am aerial view of snowy mountains

‘Send rescue now’: National Guard helicopter hoists two plane crash victims off frigid Alaska peak

"Send rescue now. We will not make it through the night," read a text message one of the pilots sent to his wife after his plane crashed on a peak in Wrangell -St. Elias National Park.

Alaska lawmakers set a limit on spending from the Permanent Fund. Now, many want to break it.

Alaska lawmakers are closer than ever to blowing past the cap they set as the maximum sustainable spending level from the Permanent Fund. The money would help fill short-term deficits and pay larger dividends.

Friends, colleagues remember Tlingit leader Kookesh as a man “of the people”

Albert Kookesh, the Tlingit leader, Indigenous rights advocate, culture bearer, politician and basketball player, died Friday at 72, and his death is reverberating across the state and his home region of Southeast Alaska.
A four story concrete building

Dunleavy administration waits to warn of layoffs as budget pressure grows

State lawmakers need to pass an operating budget by July 1 to avert a government shutdown, and that hasn’t happened yet, more than a month after the 90-day deadline on the legislative session instituted by voters.