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Pro-gun advocates told lawmakers Wednesday that allowing students to carry guns on University of Alaska campuses is the best way to safeguard against a campus shooting like the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007.
The comments came during a Senate judiciary committee hearing on SB176, sponsored by committee chairman Sen. John Coghill, R-Fairbanks. The bill would prohibit the UA board of regents from maintaining policies that prohibit guns on campus.
JUNEAU — Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty is pushing back against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after it took a step that could ultimately lead it to prohibit or restrict development of a massive gold-and-copper prospect in the Bristol Bay region.
The EPA announced Friday that it was exercising a rarely used authority under the Clean Water Act to protect the region’s world-premiere sockeye salmon fishery from large-scale mining.
FAIRBANKS — Gov. Sean Parnell’s position on the cleanup of soil contaminated at the North Pole Refinery will make it impossible to sell the plant, according to the owner.
JUNEAU — Members of the state House Education Committee raised concerns on Wednesday that Alaska could end up with more school districts if charter schools are authorized by entities other than local school boards.
The discussion came as the panel considered a bill sponsored by Rep. Lynn Gattis, R-Wasilla, that would grant chartering authority to government agencies, education-related nonprofits, and accredited post-secondary institutions. Currently, the authority rests with local school districts.
The film ignited protests in the Islamic world, but this copyright claim comes from an American actress who appears in the movie. Google plans to fight a court order to pull the video from YouTube.
Certain sales strategies work well with American Latinos. California's insurance exchange didn't try any of them when advertising coverage with the Affordable Care Act.
One Washington, D.C., community is trying to give itself a boost by attracting more businesses. A new strategy may help the area break away from old perceptions that have been hurting its main strip.
The extension for individual policies that don't meet requirements of the new health care law, helps defuse a political problem for Democrats who face tough re-elections battles this fall.
While Aaron Burmeister collected his gold nugget prize at the halfway point of Cripple, Jeff King and Sonny Lindner were looking ahead to Ruby, where both plan to take their 24-hour rests -- an unconventional move that could pay off or backfire, depending on how things unfold along the trail.March 5, 2014
Aaron Burmeister was the first musher to Cripple Wednesday afternoon, about an hour ahead of Jeff King. Burmeister arrived about 3:26 with 13 dogs. King had 15.
Sonny Lindner also reached Cripple Wednesday afternoon. He was racing with 16 dogs.
Paul Gebhardt was in fourth place and out of Ophir. John Baker trailed Gebhardt.
Martin Buser – who has taken his 24-hour mandatory layover was in sixth place and out of Ophir.
Charley Bejna lead the field of rookies. He left Takotna Wednesday night.
Last month I took the Alaska Railroad’s weekly “Aurora Train” from Anchorage to Fairbanks and then farther north to Wiseman for stunning views of the aurora borealis.March 5, 2014
Sitka’s spring herring fishery will be about 1,000 tons less than originally estimated, the Department of Fish & Game announced today.
The harvest limit for the herring fishery in Sitka Sound will be just over 16,000 tons. That’s about 7 percent lower than the preliminary harvest amount announced in December.
Herring management biologist Dave Gordon said the department revised the harvest level downward because sampling showed that the fish returning this year are smaller than last year. The revision is not unusual, he said.
“It seems like a lot, but the quota’s fairly large,” Gordon said. “So the change in tonnage may appear to some to be quite a bit, but percentage-wise, it’s nothing out of the norm.”
This year’s harvest limit is still much higher than last year’s, which was about 11,500 tons. Even with the lower limit, the fleet last year harvested only about half of its guideline harvest level.
Gordon said the primary reason for the low harvest was that the spawn took place too fast. Sitka Sound is a sac roe fishery. Fishermen focus on the herring eggs, or roe, and have to catch the herring before they spawn, when the eggs are still inside. When the spawn happens too quickly, the fleet simply can’t catch enough fish before they lay their eggs, Gordon said.
“The primary reason that we did not achieve the guideline harvest level was not because it was not enough fish,” Gordon said. “It was just the spawn happened so quickly that we were unable to catch pre-spawning herring, which you have to catch to get the product that this fishery demands. It’s a sac roe fishery, of course, and the eggs need to be in the herring for that to work.”
The Department of Fish & Game will start aerial surveys of Sitka Sound around March 14, Gordon said. The surveys look at the activity of marine mammals, and use their behavior to gauge the progress of the herring.
“We’re looking for the distribution of sea lions and whales to give us a handle on where herring are concentrated,” Gordon said. “At some point in time we will start to see changes in that distribution. The sea lions and whales will move in closer to shore, indicating herring are pulling in in preparation for spawning.”
The Department will use a combination of aerial surveys and test sampling to determine when to announce the start of the fishery, likely in late March.
For nearly 40 years, ferry workers who are Alaska residents have gotten a cost-of-living adjustment, allowing them to be paid more than those who don’t live in the state. Now, a bill getting rid of that salary bonus is moving through the Legislature. And the way it’s advanced has raised hackles.
Because it stretches from the Aleutian Islands to Bellingham, Washington, the Alaska Marine Highway is one of the few arms of the state that employs outsiders. It’s also the only branch of state government that sets its minimum salary on Seattle’s cost of living, instead using Anchorage or Juneau as a base. The idea is that in-state workers should have a cost-of-living differential added on. That difference can end up being $10,000 or more.
A bill moving through the State Senate would strip that provision.
Bill sponsor Fred Dyson, an Eagle River Republican, says the legislation is not about the difference between Alaska workers and Washington workers — it’s about getting ferry workers in line with the rest of state government.
“My view is it brings more fairness and consistency into those contracts,” says Dyson.
Sen. Bill Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat, doesn’t agree. He’s got a few problems with it. For one, he sees it as an attack on Alaska hire.
“The effect of the bill is it gives everyone that works for the marine transportation system that lives in Alaska a pay cut and keeps the salary the same for those living in Seattle,” says Wielechowski.
Wielechowski is also unhappy with how the bill’s moving forward.
The bill comes as the marine transportation unions are negotiating their contracts for the next three years. If the bill passes before an agreement is reached, Alaskan workers could lose $8 million in wages, according to the bill’s fiscal note.
Because the bill affects so many people’s paychecks, dozens of ferry workers came to testify before the State Affairs Committee last week. There was a nine-page list of names of people who called in to oppose the legislation. Only four got to speak before testimony was closed to the public.
Wielechowski says he’s never been a part of a committee where that’s happened.
“I think it makes the public cynical when we don’t even give them the right to have two minutes to tell us how they feel about a bill that’s in front of us,” says Wielechowski.
Dyson, who chairs the committee, says closing testimony was a matter of pragmatism. The committee has 30 other bills it’s assigned to hear before the session wraps up, and he says people had the opportunity to offer written testimony or call in if they were not heard.
“We got a lot of work to do, and I doubt if any new information has come out,” says Dyson. “So, we got to limit it somewhere.”
For their part, the ferry workers who showed up were disappointed that they didn’t get to speak, because they have an even bigger concern about process.
Ben Goldrich represents the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, and he says cost-of-living adjustments have traditionally been fodder for the bargaining table.
“It’s very strange to be up on the Hill talking about an issue that normally we would be dealing with in negotiations,” says Goldrich.
Goldrich worries that the Parnell administration is using the bill as leverage. The way the bill is written, it would go into effect immediately after being signed into law. That could put pressure on unions to accept a deal before that date to avoid losing the cost-of-living differential during the upcoming contract period.
“If somebody from the Department of Administration were to shop a bill on the Hill, that might constitute what we call an unfair labor practice,” says Goldrich.
The Department of Administration addressed the role compensation played in the Alaska Marine Highway budget during presentations to the Legislature this year. Dyson says that the administration also spoke with him about the cost-of-living differential.
Andy Mills, a special assistant in the Department of Administration, says that does not constitute an unfair labor practice. He says legislators are within their rights to bring labor bills forward, and that the leaders of both chambers have encouraged the Department of Administration to address the cost-of-living differential as a way of tightening the Marine Highway budget in a year where the state is looking at a $2 billion deficit.
“Collectively bargaining agreements is separate and apart from legislative changes to statute,” says Mills.
But Mills says yes, the legislation could affect the bargaining timeline.
“This probably adds pressure to get an agreement before a certain timeline, and we’re having those discussions at the negotiating table and hoping to reach a balanced and neutral agreements with the units,” says Mills.
Mills adds that if the bill passes and an agreement has not been reached, the Department of Administration would be more likely to negotiate for a wage freeze as opposed to an immediate salary cut.
The current union contract expires in June.
The bill was moved out of the State Affairs committee Tuesday, and it got a referral to the Finance Committee on Wednesday.
The company says it will take a number of steps to try to curtail illegal gun trafficking online, including removing posts that advertise guns with "no background check required."