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Former South High quarterback Lujan signs with Division I South Dakota State

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 20:26
Former South High quarterback Lujan signs with Division I South Dakota State When freshman quarterback Zach Lujan of Anchorage arrived at Chabot College in California he was fourth on the depth chartApril 19, 2014

Senate Passes Bill Transferring $3 Billion To Retirement System

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 19:56

After wrestling with how to approach the state’s massive unfunded liability for months, the Alaska Senate unanimously agreed to put $3 billion toward the public employee pension system just hours after their plan was released.

The retirement bill was introduced by Gov. Sean Parnell last week, with the objective of shoring up the retirement trusts funds because the state’s unfunded liability is $12 billion. The House passed the legislation with no changes, but the Senate made two major modifications

While Parnell’s bill originally put $2 billion toward the public employee retirement system and $1 billion toward the teacher retirement system, the Senate version swaps those numbers because the teacher system is facing a proportionally larger funding gap.

The Senate also adopted a pension payment plan that involves smaller annual contributions in early years, with those contributions stretched out over a longer period of time. Parnell had proposed putting $500 million toward the retirement system each year for the next two decades. The Senate instead elected to go with funding plan that’s more responsive to how many state retirees are collecting benefits at any point in time. Under the Senate plan, the Legislature is expected to appropriate $350 million to the retirement fund next year, with those payments growing some each year as more retirees begin collecting benefits.

Senate Finance Co-Chair Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, said the pension plan should allow investment bond raters to experience a “sigh of relief” and help the state maintain a high credit rating. The bill also earned praise from Democrats, who have previously attempted to increase payments in to the retirement system.

The bill passed 20-0.

In a release, Gov. Sean Parnell offered support for the Senate’s version of the bill. The bill will now be sent back to the House for concurrence.

Tribe seeks return of artifacts taken from abandoned Alaska village

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 18:32
Tribe seeks return of artifacts taken from abandoned Alaska village A prominent Southeast Alaska cultural leader says a Yale University museum that has held onto a pair of Tlingit carvings taken from Cape Fox more than a century ago should voluntarily return the items instead of waiting for tribal officials to make a formal request.April 19, 2014

'Hidden Warbirds' takes readers on hunt for aircraft around Alaska and the world

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 18:32
'Hidden Warbirds' takes readers on hunt for aircraft around Alaska and the world With so many military wrecks scattered across Alaska, author Nicolas Veronico's close look at hunting and recovering warbirds around the world is a real eye-opener. April 19, 2014

GAO offers sobering look at shipping prospects in US Arctic

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 18:31
GAO offers sobering look at shipping prospects in US Arctic A new report says commercial maritime activity in Alaska's Arctic waters will likely be limited in the next decade due to high operating costs, lack of infrastructure, and limited demand for tourism.April 19, 2014

Alaska State Trooper patrol vessel will stay in Unalaska

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 18:30
Alaska State Trooper patrol vessel will stay in Unalaska The patrol vessel Stimson won't move to Kodiak, a move troopers had proposed to save money. Meanwhile a second vessel, the 120-foot Wolstad will be replaced by a smaller vessel.April 19, 2014

Peer mentor for recovering addicts arrested for breaking into Togiak clinic pharmacy

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 18:29
Peer mentor for recovering addicts arrested for breaking into Togiak clinic pharmacy A 25-year-old Dillingham man, visiting Togiak to speak to others about his recovery, has been charged with breaking into the village clinic and stealing several prescription drugs.April 19, 2014

Legislature nears final hours with key issues unresolved

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 15:42
Legislature nears final hours with key issues unresolved The Alaska Legislature enters the final two days of the legislative session with most of its major bills not quite ready for final action. Lawmakers prepared to work late into the night Saturday with the 90th day of the session arriving on Easter. April 19, 2014

Effort To Revive Parts Of Controversial Permitting Bill Scrapped

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 15:11

An effort to resurrect parts of dead permitting bill was abandoned on Friday night.

Officials from the Department of Natural Resources had been working with Rep. Cathy Muñoz, a Juneau Republican, to attach land exchange language from House Bill 77 to a separate bill concerning land sales.

The exchange provision would have allowed the DNR to trade state land for private land, as long as the properties were of equal value or DNR determined the exchange was in the state’s best interest.

The Department of Natural Resources pitched it as an uncontroversial part of a very controversial and recently abandoned bill. When HB 77 was under consideration, the land exchange portion got scant attention compared to sections on water reservations, appeals, and general permits. But environmental advocates have now objected to the land exchange language, arguing that it removed public notice provisions and could allow for sweetheart deals for development projects.

“Rather than short-cutting the process, we should take care whenever public lands and resources are being traded away to a private entity,” says Lisa Weissler, a former assistant attorney general who opposes the language.

Rep. Muñoz had intended to offer land exchange language amendment to Senate Bill 106 either in a procedural committee or on the House floor. But when SB 106 came for a final vote on a Friday night, no amendment was offered.
Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash says the amendment was scrapped because of the immediate pushback.

“We were not going to ask anyone to take heat to do this, and there was a little bit of a heat generated by certain groups. So, no harm, no foul,” says Balash. “Hopefully we’ll have an opportunity in the future to look at some of these things, and specifically the land exchange piece, in a cooler time.”

Balash expects the language to come back next year in a standalone bill.

As session wraps up, how to track bill progress online

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 14:47
As session wraps up, how to track bill progress online It's crunch time in the Legislature, and although much of the wheeling and dealing is being done behind closed doors, constituents can track the official progress of the bills they care about using the BASIS online tool.April 19, 2014

Training For An Uncertain Military Future In The Calif. Desert

NPR News - Sat, 2014-04-19 13:38

The military's training center at Fort Irwin in California is complete with mock Middle Eastern villages. But as the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan winds down, how will this facility change?

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GM Was Slow To Recall Saturn Cars With Steering Flaw

NPR News - Sat, 2014-04-19 13:02

General Motors delayed a safety recall of more than 330,000 cars, newly released federal documents show. The Saturn Ions were found to have defective power steering systems.

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Colver responds: Falsehoods, smear attacks distract from issues facing District 9

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 12:19
Colver responds: Falsehoods, smear attacks distract from issues facing District 9 OPINION: Having an issue with Republican Party leadership is understandable, but that's no excuse to smear a good candidate with a long history of public service in a host of elected offices because he doesn't satisfy an unattainable purity test.April 19, 2014

Rugged research in Alaska's Big White Empty tests scientists' resolve

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 12:12
Rugged research in Alaska's Big White Empty tests scientists' resolve Unplanned events -- like fixing or replacing a broken snowmachine -- come with the territory for scientists whose research takes them to broad, bare expanses of the North Slope's coastal plain.April 19, 2014

AK Beat: After collision, Anchorage driver arrested for DWI

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 11:26
AK Beat: After collision, Anchorage driver arrested for DWI After an early morning collision, Anchorage resident Ariel McGrew was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated.April 19, 2014

Mount Everest: Avalanche Death Toll Rises To 13

NPR News - Sat, 2014-04-19 11:16

Search teams are digging through ice and snow on Mount Everest in hopes of finding Sherpa guides who are still missing. Survivors say the avalanche was like being trapped in a cloud.

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Extra Vaccination Push Underway In Ohio As Mumps Outbreak Spreads

NPR News - Sat, 2014-04-19 09:22

Officials in Columbus, Ohio, are scrambling to contain a burst of mumps cases. There's a new clinic open for vaccinations, and Ohio State University is teaching students how to protect themselves.

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Pakistani TV Journalist Hamid Mir Wounded In Attack

NPR News - Sat, 2014-04-19 09:04

Prominent TV anchor Hamid Mir is in a Karachi hospital after gunmen opened fire on his car Saturday afternoon. Mir's car was reportedly ambushed by attackers who were riding motorcycles.

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Tesoro, looking to lower costs with Bakken oil, doesn't need state subsidy

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Sat, 2014-04-19 08:19
Tesoro, looking to lower costs with Bakken oil, doesn't need state subsidy ANALYSIS: State officials say there is a public interest in keeping the Petro Star refineries in business, which is why they support a subsidy plan. No one has said that the Tesoro refinery is likely to shut down, though, which is a good reason to take Tesoro out of the bill.April 19, 2014

Ancient Landscape Is Found Under 2 Miles Of Ice In Greenland

NPR News - Sat, 2014-04-19 08:01

A revelation goes against widely held ideas about how some glaciers work, and it suggests that at least parts of Greenland's ice sheet survived periods of global warming intact.

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