Dangerous form of heroin enters Juneau

first_imgAlcohol & Substance Abuse | Crime & Courts | Juneau | SoutheastDangerous form of heroin enters JuneauNovember 18, 2015 by Elizabeth Jenkins Share:Heroin powder. (Photo courtesy Drug Enforcement Administration)The Juneau Police Department recently received an anonymous tip that a dangerous form of heroin has entered the city. Lt. Kris Sell said it’s called “China white,” and the police have been told it may be laced with fentanyl, a prescription drug used for pain management.“The fentanyl being mixed with the heroin could be a game changer,” she said. “They might misestimate what their dosage would be. What people have been telling known users in the community is to have a friend around, use lightly.”Five heroin overdoses occurred over the weekend. One of the cases also involved meth. Emergency responders found that China white was involved in two of the overdoses, Sell said.Sell said typically this type of heroin isn’t found in the city.“Usually in Juneau we see a black tar heroin that is a more crudely processed form of heroin and usually comes from Mexico,” Sell said.China white is in powder form and comes from Asia. Sell said the police haven’t been able to confiscate the drug yet. Capital City Fire/Rescue was able to administer lifesaving Narcan to three of the overdose patients.This year, seven people have died in heroin-involved deaths.Share this story:last_img read more

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Southeast House, Senate candidates raise lots of cash

first_imgElection Coverage | Juneau | Politics | Southeast | State Government | SyndicatedSoutheast House, Senate candidates raise lots of cashNovember 5, 2016 by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News Share:Southeast Alaska House and Senate districts are shown on this map. (Courtesy Alaska Redistricting Board)Southeast Alaska’s nine legislative candidates have raised close to half a million dollars for this year’s campaigns. Five, including a barely-challenged incumbent, have brought in about $50,000 each.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2016/11/04Finance.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Not all the numbers are in yet. But as of Friday afternoon, the most recent campaign finance disclosure reports showed the total raised at about $440,000.That’s about 6 percent higher than the 2014 election. But it helps illustrate the long-term growth of campaign fundraising in Southeast.Juneau’s Christopher Clark said, “I think it’s keeping up with the inflationary trend.” Clark tracks and analyzes state elections.“There was a time when we looked at $25,000 as being enough to win a House seat provided you were a decent candidate. And now, we’re seeing much, much more money raised,” added Clark. He has worked as a journalist and as a staffer for legislators of both major parties.Two of Southeast’s five legislative races have no opponent on the ballot, so you’d expect less fundraising.That’s true for incumbent Juneau Democrat Sam Kito III, a civil engineer and former lobbyist, who is seeking a second full term. His House District 33 represents about half of Juneau and the rest of northern Southeast’s cities.Kito has raised close to $16,000 but has spent only about a quarter of that money.But the other incumbent without an opponent on the ballot, Sitka Republican Senator Bert Stedman, has brought in more than $47,000.The investment manager has a write-in challenger, Petersburg handyman Michael Sheldon, who has only raised $100 running for his Senate District R campaign.All the Southeast races had competition two years ago. But Clark said unopposed candidates aren’t uncommon.“Southeast does have some history. Pretty much, if you like the guy who’s in there or the woman who’s in there, then you will see they don’t get that opposition,” he said.Financial disclosure forms show Stedman, who’s seeking his fourth full term, has spent most of what he’s raised. A lot went to campaigning with two fellow Republicans who are challenging a Democrat and an independent for House seats in his district.One is Sitka GOP member Sheila Finkenbinder, a former legislative aide and executive director of her city’s chamber of commerce.Finkenbinder has brought in more than $35,000 so far and most has been spent.It’s less than half of the $75,000 raised by incumbent Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, who has worked with his town’s fine arts camp.He’s seeking his third term representing House District 35, which includes his hometown, Petersburg, Kake, Angoon and about 15 other villages.Kreiss-Tomkins has spent about 70 percent of what he’s raised.Stedman has also been campaigning with Ketchikan Republican Bob Sivertsen, a retired city employee who’s challenging independent incumbent Dan Ortiz, also of Ketchikan.Sivertsen has raised a little more than $35,000 on his own. But another $40,000 has gone into a separate committee supporting his candidacy. The main contributor is The Accountability Project, a conservative, Anchorage-based political action committee.Clark can’t recall that happening before.“In some ways, that’s almost par for the course up north, up in the Southcentral area, in those highly competitive races that are happening right now,” he said. “But here in Southeast, that’s something we haven’t seen. I think they are indicative of what people see as probably the closest race we have here.House District 36 one-term incumbent Ortiz, a retired teacher, called the PAC contributions “dark money.” Campaign finance reports show he brought in a little more than $70,000 and he has spent the majority of that amount.Constitution Party candidate Ken Shaw raised about $330 and spent about a third of it.The final Southeast race, in House District 34, pits Republican incumbent Cathy Muñoz, a former gift-shop owner, against Democrat Justin Parish, who works with special-needs students.The district is based in Juneau’s populous Mendenhall Valley and includes some other capital city neighborhoods.Muñoz, who is seeking her fourth term, has the fundraising lead with $82,000. She’s spent about 70 percent of that amount.Parish has raised close to $40,000, about half of Muñoz’ total. The latest finance reports, filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission, show he’s spent about half of that.Share this story:last_img read more

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Dakota Access Pipeline foes: We aren’t done fighting yet

first_imgEnergy & Mining | Environment | Federal Government | Nation & World | NPR News | Public SafetyDakota Access Pipeline foes: We aren’t done fighting yetJanuary 25, 2017 by Leah Donnella, NPR Share:Opponents who spent months resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline were disheartened by President Trump’s decision Tuesday to “expedite” construction on the controversial project.Dave Archambault, the chairman of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, called the move “reckless and politically motivated.”Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union said it was “a slap in the face to Native Americans.”Earthjustice, the law firm that represents the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, described it as “legally questionable at best” and vowed to take the Trump administration to court.But as much as Trump’s move has been criticized, opponents of the pipeline say it wasn’t a surprise.“It’s disappointing, but it’s not unexpected,” said Ruth Hopkins, a reporter at Indian Country Today who was born on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and has been part of the resistance for months. “This is not the end-all, be-all just because he signed those orders. … Our hearts have been in this continuously, and we’ve just been waiting to see what would develop, and trying to prepare ourselves the best we can.”Trump signed an executive memorandum that supersedes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision in December to halt construction. He also signed a memorandum inviting the company TransCanada to resubmit an application for building the Keystone XL — a proposed pipeline that President Barack Obama vetoed in 2015.Environmental activists and thousands of protestors, including Native Americans from more than 100 tribes, have resisted both pipelines. They have argued that the Dakota Access Pipeline, an 1,172-mile project cutting through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, would jeopardize the primary water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the millions of people who get their drinking water from the Missouri River. They also say that pipeline construction would damage sacred sites, violating tribal treaty rights.Energy Transfer Partners, the construction company responsible for the Dakota Access Pipeline, has contended all along that the pipeline is safe and passes through no land owned by the Standing Rock Sioux. On Sunday, the company shared an article on its website headlined “Even the Standing Rock tribe is sick of the Dakota pipeline protesters,” which predicted that DAPL would “finally have an ally in Washington and we can get back to business.”A White House press release on Tuesday said that Trump’s executive orders were in line with his campaign promise to “reduce the burden of regulations and expedite high priority energy and infrastructure projects that will create jobs and increase national security.” The statement said that construction and operation of Keystone XL would create tens of thousands of American jobs, and that the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline and other pipelines is “critical to a strong economy, energy independence, and national security.”For months, environmentalists, activists, and tribes from across the country have been opposing construction of DAPL through lawsuits, demonstrations, and civil disobedience.But while protesters considered the Army Corps of Engineers’ actions last month a victory, celebrations came with an asterisk. The people engaged in the fight against the pipeline knew that whatever reprieve they were getting was likely to be temporary. When construction was halted, Hopkins tweeted, “Those at camp are being encouraged to stick around because it’s expected that Dakota Access will drill anyway, without permit.”There are still ways for people to fight the pipeline, Hopkins said Tuesday. People can call their senators and members of Congress to express their opposition, she said. They can take their money out of the banks that have financed DAPL. They can spread awareness in their communities and on social media. And, she said, there are still people at the Sacred Stone Camp in North Dakota living in weatherized tents, where snow and ice cover the land.Allison Renville is one of those people. A member of the Lakota Nation, she’s a media consultant and self-described activist who has spent a lot of time at the camp over the past year. Renville agrees that divestment and community engagement are going to be key to preventing DAPL construction from going forward.“Not only do I have faith in God, but I have faith in my people,” she said. “On the ground, we’ve had 10,000 people come in and learn to be organizers [and] … taking courses in non-violent direct action and learning to set up a camp, utilizing tools — they’ll be able to get anything accomplished.”In the wake of the massive women’s marches held around the country over the weekend, some anti-DAPL activists remain optimistic that political mobilization will be a safeguard against any actions the president might take.“Coming off of the weekend where so many gathered to send the message … that President Trump and all that he stands for cannot be normalized, I think that resonates in the air for many people,” Nellis Kennedy-Howard said. A Navajo woman, she is the director of the Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Program for the Sierra Club. She said Trump’s actions affected her personally, and that his presidency is a threat to the rights of Native people across the country.Trump, she said, will “run into confrontation every step of the way.”“And people are feeling stronger to fight back against bad decisions like this,” Kennedy-Howard said. “There’s a strength and there’s a solidarity that’s brewing that will rise up and put President Trump on notice: That we deserve better, we demand more, and we’ll do everything we can to get it.”Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.Share this story:last_img read more

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Alaska’s budget, easier to swallow with ice cream and beer

first_imgAlaska’s Energy Desk | EconomyAlaska’s budget, easier to swallow with ice cream and beerFebruary 3, 2017 by Elizabeth Jenkins and Rashah McChesney, Alaska’s Energy Desk Share:Economist Gunnar Knapp and Cliff Groh, Chair of Alaska Common Ground, talk to a crowd about Alaska’s budget at McGivney’s, a sports bar and grill, on Thursday in Juneau. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)The Alaska legislature has a lot on its plate trying to fix the state’s multi-billion dollar budget deficit, and a couple of budget experts are adding to the menu. They’re inviting the public to weigh-in over ice cream and beer.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2017/02/03BEERICEX.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.More than 20 people are crowded into Coppa — a local ice cream shop in Juneau — to learn about what’s happening with Alaska’s budget. People dig small plastic spoons into flavors like “fiscal crunch” and “sustainable blueberry budget.”Carole Triem is here with a friend. And while the ice cream doesn’t make the fiscal situation taste any sweeter, she says her main reason for coming is to learn.“I feel like I should know more about the budget than I do. Especially as a state employee because it affects my livelihood,” she said.Jobs like Triem’s could be on the chopping block, as the Alaska legislature looks at ways to reduce state spending. There’s a more than $3 billion hole to fill this year, and with declining oil production and weak revenue, Cliff Groh says we can’t keep living like we have.Cliff Groh, Chair of Alaska Common Ground, talks to a crowd about Alaska’s budget at Coppa, an ice cream and coffee shop, on Thursday in Juneau. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)Groh is the chair of Alaska Common Ground, a public policy nonprofit, and he served as a special assistant to the Commissioner of Revenue. He’s here presenting with Gunnar Knapp, an economist. You could say Groh’s role is to simplify the jargon of the budget crisis. That’s his mission.“Alaska’s in deep kimchi and all the bland food options have left town,” Groh said. “The choices are spicy and not the easy meatloaf and mashed potatoes. People need to think clearly about the difficult choices we face.”Groh says that means the options to fix Alaska’s budget are not that appealing: deep cuts to state infrastructure, creating a state income or sales tax, repealing the oil and gas tax credit program. We can’t just pick one.“But those are the kinds of choices that Alaska faces now because the savings are running out very fast,” Groh said.He says we’re eventually going to have to eat our kimchi.Groh and Knapp give this same spiel to their audience for over an hour. After everyone leaves, they make their way over to McGivney’s where they’ll do it again.In a back room at the downtown sports bar, Knapp and Groh pick up their informal budget conversation with an after-hours crowd.  They aren’t  shy about telling other people to get comfortable.A budget conversation and free ice cream drew a crowd to Coppa, an ice cream and coffee shop, on Thursday, in Juneau. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)“By the way, those who just came in, get some beer, there’s beer, enjoy the beer,” Knapp tells a crowd of about 15 people.Knapp kicks off his shoes and reclines on a bar stool while giving the crowd a broad overview of the budget. The state’s dependence on oil money has left lawmakers reeling — trying to figure out where to cut and how deep. So far, Knapp says, they’ve been relying on savings.The crowd is a mix of lawmakers, legislative aids, community members and even a former Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Revenue. And while the conversation is relaxed, they’re grappling with some difficult concepts. A woman in the crowd asks if we’re all screwed. Should she stick it out or leave the state?“I mean, I’m fundamentally an optimist about Alaska,” Knapp said. “And I think that we’ve got a lot of resources, there’s a lot of oil still in the state.”It’s those same concepts that lawmakers struggle with by day at the state capital just a few blocks away. Groh says the competing philosophies of cutting further, capping spending, taxing Alaskans and dipping into the Permanent Fund, make it difficult for legislators to work together.“And Alaska’s political situation surrounding the fiscal problems are sort of like what you might see in an old spaghetti western or Quentin Tarantino film,” Groh said.A standoff.He says Alaskans have been very good at announcing what they don’t want. Now they need to think about what they will accept. And sometimes a scoop of ice cream or a swig of beer can help that reality go down easier.Editor’s Note: A previous version of the story stated Cliff Groh was a former commissioner at the Department of Revenue. He served as a special assistant to the Commissioner of Revenue. The story has been updated to reflect the changes. Share this story:last_img read more

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Veteran of Alaska campaigns said to be in line for White House job

first_imgFederal Government | Nation & WorldVeteran of Alaska campaigns said to be in line for White House jobFebruary 18, 2017 by Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media Share:The Washington-based political strategist has worked on several Alaska campaigns could be in line to be President Donald Trump’s communications director.The Wall Street Journal and other national news outlets are reporting that Mike Dubke is about to be named to the post.Audio Playerhttp://media.aprn.org/2017/ann-20170217-01.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Dubke helped U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski win re-election last year, and in 2014, his firm was the lead strategist behind Dan Sullivan’s election to the U.S. Senate.Sullivan said in a written statement he could think of no one better for the communications job than Dubke. He also said Dubke has a lot of experience advancing pro-growth issues and knows Alaska well.Dubke founded Crossroads Media and also co-founded Black Rock Group, a political consulting firm.He is something of a pioneer in the use of so-called “dark money” tax-exempt groups in politics, and one example of that took place in Alaska.Dubke worked with Alaska financier and lodge-owner Bob Gillam on an effort to stop the proposed Pebble mine in 2008.Dubke was accused of helping to route a $2 million donation from Gillam through an advocacy group to disguise the funding source for the anti-Pebble campaign.Alaska Public Offices Commission dismissed the case against Dubke as unfounded. The advocacy group paid a fine with no admission of guilt.As of Friday evening, the White House had still not announced his hiring.A communications director typically works behind the scenes to hone a president’s message and craft ways to deliver it while the press secretary –Sean Spicer – faces reporters.Share this story:last_img read more

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Feds say Alaska ferry system violates family leave act

first_imgFederal Government | Southcentral | Southeast | Southwest | State Government | Syndicated | TransportationFeds say Alaska ferry system violates family leave actAugust 18, 2017 by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News Share:Marine highway employees tie up the Fairweather in Sitka Aug. 6, 2012. A federal lawsuit alleges the marine highway violates family medical leave rules. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)The U.S. Department of Labor alleges the Alaska Marine Highway System violates federal leave laws.A civil suit filed in U.S. District Court alleges the ferry system miscalculates time off mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act.State officials deny that claim.The act requires large employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave when a child is born, fostered or adopted. Terms also cover care for a seriously ill family member – or the employee him or herself.The conflict surrounds what are called “rotational employees.” Those are ferry staffers who work for one or more weeks straight, then take the same amount of time off.The federal complaint, filed Aug. 16, said the ferry system counts such time off as part of the 12 weeks leave required by federal law. It said that’s illegal.U.S. Department of Labor attorneys in Anchorage and Seattle did not return calls for comment by this report’s deadline.Cori Mills, with Alaska’s Department of Law, said the ferry system did nothing wrong.“The state continues to assert its long-standing interpretation of the Family (and) Medical Leave Act, and will continue to support that in the court action,” she said.She said the state is aware of the complaint, but has not been served with an official copy.The complaint asks the court to order the state to follow the Labor Department’s interpretation of the rules.It asks that any fired employee be reinstated and compensated for lost wages and benefits. It also calls for any worker who lost pay or leave time to have it restored.The suit does not say how many employees have been affected or what jobs they held.Share this story:last_img read more

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Gardentalk – Attacking greenhouse mold and mildew

first_imgFood | Gardentalk | JuneauGardentalk – Attacking greenhouse mold and mildewApril 12, 2018 by Matt Miller, KTOO Share:Garlic poke through the soil at the KTOO Agricultural Test Station and Garden of Science in late March 2018. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)Before gardeners start moving seedlings into their greenhouse, it might be worthwhile to do little spring cleaning to get rid of any mold and mildew that may have accumulated over the fall and winter.The fungus can infest and kill your seedlings soon after being put in the greenhouse.Master Gardener Ed Buyarski said a bleach cleanser would be most effective in eliminating mold and mildew, but peroxide and other household cleaners are much safer.If you use vinegar, then be careful about spraying it around the greenhouse and wear a mask. Listen to the April 12 edition about greenhouse cleaning and garlic nurturing:Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2018/04/garden041218fin.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.As for garlic, Buyarski recommends covering garlic beds with plastic or sprinkle some wood chips to accelerate melting of any snow and warm up the soil.Remove the plastic when the garlic bulbs pop through the soil so they don’t get sunburned.Once garlic get a several inches tall, spray some liquid fertilizer on the leaves to boost their growth.And don’t forget to keep weeds under control since garlic and onions do not compete well with them.Share this story:last_img read more

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Lituya Bay helicopter crash under investigation, 3 people still missing

first_imgSearch & Rescue | Southeast | TransportationLituya Bay helicopter crash under investigation, 3 people still missingOctober 1, 2018 by Matt Miller, KTOO Share:(Creative Commons photo by Matt’ Johnson)National Transportation Safety Board investigators are now at the scene of a helicopter crash in Lituya Bay.One person was rescued after the Friday incident, but three others are still missing. The Coast Guard suspended the search for the three people on Sunday.Clint Johnson, head of the NTSB’s Alaska office, said the wreckage will be transported to a Juneau hangar for a detailed examination.The wreckage was visible at low tide with the main fuselage in a fragmented condition. The tail boom and some of the main rotors were broken off.Johnson said the Airbus H125 helicopter does not have a flight data recorder like a commercial airliner. But some of the helicopter’s state-of-the-art instruments have an internal memory that may provide clues about its operation just before it crashed.Johnson said two NTSB investigators, as well as representatives from Airbus and the engine manufacturer, have arrived to investigate the crash.The Airbus H125 is the latest model previously known as the AStar or AS350, a single-engine helicopter widely used by Alaska flightseeing companiesRescued after the crash Friday was 14-year-old Aiden Pepperd, a passenger in the helicopter. The Anchorage Daily News reports he was transported to an Anchorage hospital for treatment of his injuries.Still missing is his 11-year-old brother Andrew and his father, 42-year-old Josh Pepperd.Also still missing is 53-year-old David King.The elder Pepperd is head of Davis Constructors and Engineers in Anchorage. King is with a Palmer helicopter company. It’s still unknown who was flying the helicopter when it crashed.Share this story:last_img read more

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Vote early to get one of Juneau artist Pat Race’s ‘I voted’ stickers

first_imgArts & Culture | Election Coverage | Juneau | State GovernmentVote early to get one of Juneau artist Pat Race’s ‘I voted’ stickersOctober 23, 2018 by Adelyn Baxter, KTOO Share:Pat Race’s designs for early voting stickers feature Alaska animals and say “I voted” in English, Spanish, Tagalog and several Alaskan Native languages. (Image courtesy of Alaska Division of Elections)Monday marked the start of early voting in Alaska’s Nov. 6 general election.In addition to voting by mail or in-person on Election Day, Alaskans can also vote at designated early voting locations across the state.And this year they’ll get an extra prize for voting early: one of Juneau artist Pat Race’s custom-designed stickers.“I think it’s an enticement to get people to come out and vote early, so these stickers are only available if you vote before Election Day,” Race said.The new “I voted” stickers feature cartoon versions of Alaskan animals in iconic settings. They come in English, Spanish, Tagalog and several Alaska Native languages.Race said the Division of Elections first approached him about illustrating the cover of the election pamphlets sent to voters. They liked his designs so much they decided to turn them into stickers, too.Division spokesperson Samantha Miller said the contract with Race totaled $5,000. She said the division has also paid for election pamphlet art in the past.Race said he hopes this will serve as a pilot program for future elections.“I’m hoping that I can work with the Division of Elections to talk more about that after the elections and develop some guidelines for other artists to participate and maybe make this a tradition,” he said.Race is also selling prints of the designs at the Alaska Robotics gallery in downtown Juneau.The traditional blue and gold “I voted” stickers will be available on Election Day.In Juneau, voters have two options for early voting locations:the State Office Building downtown weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. andthe Region I Elections Office in the Mendenhall Mall Annex weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.Both locations will also have hours the weekend before the election, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.Voters registered elsewhere in the state can also visit these locations to fill out an absentee ballot for their district.The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is Oct. 27. Those ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 6.Share this story:last_img read more

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While Dunleavy’s budget vetoes survive override vote, Alaska’s Legislature remains divided

first_imgWhile there won’t be a formal way to override the vetoes after Friday, there may be another path to restoring funding for some line items.House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt has raised the possibility of funding individual items in a separate bill. And Soldotna Republican Sen. Peter Micciche wrote in a commentary posted on the website of the Kenai radio station KSRM that while he opposed an up-or-down vote on every veto, “there are also individual vetos I do not support (such as senior benefits, impacts on the disabled and seniors, a significant portion of the university reduction and others).”Micciche has an excused absence from the Legislature to commercially fish, and he hasn’t shown up in either location.It’s not clear how receptive Dunleavy would be to large-scale changes to the vetoes. If the Legislature passes more funding in another bill, it’s not clear if Dunleavy would veto it — and if he did, how the lawmakers aligned with him would respond.Another area of uncertainty is the funding for items that were not in the line-item vetoes, like power cost equalization, medical education and college scholarships and grants.They aren’t funded because the budget planned to draw on accounts that the Dunleavy administration may determine will be swept into the Constitutional Budget Reserve. The CBR is difficult to access, requiring three-quarters of both the Senate and House to agree. But it may be somewhat easier for the Legislature to build a consensus to fund these items than it would be to fund the items that were vetoed. If this were to happen, it would also have to be done in a separate bill.Watch the latest legislative coverage from Gavel Alaska. Share this story: Economy | Juneau | Politics | Southcentral | State Government | University of AlaskaWhile Dunleavy’s budget vetoes survive override vote, Alaska’s Legislature remains dividedJuly 10, 2019 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:The Alaska Legislature meets to consider an override of Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s line-item budget vetoes. (Photo by Aidan Ling/Gavel Alaska)The Alaska Legislature failed to override Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s state budget vetoes on Wednesday.Without enough lawmakers present to reach the required 45 votes, the vote in Juneau fell eight votes short.Audio Playerhttp://media.aprn.org/2019/ann-20190710-01.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The floor debate in the Alaska State Capitol focused on the consequences of the $390 million in state funding Dunleavy vetoed. Anchorage Sen. Natasha von Imhof, a Republican, said Alaskans may have to make their permanent fund dividends last.Anchorage Republican Sen. Natasha von Imhof speaks during Wednesday’s joint session of the Alaska Legislature. (Gavel Alaska video still)“You won’t have a job if you work at the university, or in construction, or in any of the number of nonprofits that serve homelessness shelters or abused women’s shelters,” she said of those affected by some of the vetoes. “You might not have access to dental coverage, or Head Start preschool for your kids, or assistance to pay for heating fuel, or any tuition money. Or even an actual university to attend, for that matter.”In Juneau, all but one of the 14 Republican legislators — as well as all 22 Democrats and two independents — voted to override the vetoes. But 22 Republicans weren’t there, with many of them at the middle school in Wasilla, where Dunleavy called them into special session.That meant there weren’t enough votes to override the vetoes. That’s because Alaska’s constitution requires 45 votes to override.Bethel Democratic Sen. Lyman Hoffman made the motion to override.“Thousands of people have contact my office: individuals, organizations, communities and villages,” Hoffman said. “And I stand here today to tell them that I’m going to represent them, and I’m going to vote for their interests and vote to override.”Several legislators expressed concern about the effect of cuts to the university on the state’s future.Anchorage Republican Rep. Jennifer Johnston quoted a 1986 speech by Gov. Wally Hickel.“We used to say, ‘Let’s go.’ Now we say, ‘Give me.’ We used to say, ‘North to the Future.’ Now we ask, ‘Do we have a future?’” Johnston said.Some lawmakers said Dunleavy is prioritizing having $3,000 permanent fund dividends this year. But Anchorage Democratic Sen. Bill Wielechowski said the vetoes didn’t touch one area that could balance the budget: the oil tax credits deducted by the major producers.“These vetoes cut from the poor, the sick, our seniors, our kids — basically anyone who can’t afford to hire a lobbyist to come down here and lobby us. That’s who was cut,” Wielechowski said. “Who wasn’t cut? Some of the richest corporations in the history of the world.”North Pole Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson was the only lawmaker present to vote against overriding all of the vetoes.North Pole Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson speaks during Wednesday’s joint session of the Alaska Legislature. (Gavel Alaska video still)“Although I don’t support vetoing all of these items in total, I am 100% into compromise, working together with everyone, coming up with a plan that works best for Alaskans,” she said.Wilson was in Wasilla on Monday. She was the only lawmaker who traveled from Wasilla to Juneau for today’s vote. Leaders of the legislators who stayed in Wasilla also have said they opposed overriding all 182 line-item vetoes with a single vote.What happens next?Friday is the deadline for a legislative vote to override the vetoes. No plans have been announced for another vote. Without more legislators coming to Juneau, any further override votes would likely be symbolic.It appears there are two possible ways to get lawmakers in one place for the special session: a compromise or a court case. A potential location for a compromise could be Anchorage.But a lawsuit filed by former North Pole Republican Rep. Al Vezey filed on Wednesday also could resolve the issue. The lawsuit contends the Juneau session isn’t legitimate. It won’t mean much for the overrides with time running out, but it may lead the courts to resolve where the proper location for the session is.The lawmakers in Wasilla can’t take action because they don’t have a majority in either chamber to hold a meeting. Veto opponents protested there on Wednesday. Tegan Hanlon of the Anchorage Daily News shared videos from Wasilla Middle School on social media, with protesters chanting, “Forty-five to override!” The lawmakers in Wasilla left after a quick meeting.last_img read more

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