Alaska News Nightly: February 4, 2014

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @aprn.

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North Pole Crude Refinery Shutting Down

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Officials with Flint Hills Resources Alaska announced today they will halt processing crude oil at the company’s North Pole refinery over the next few months.

Court Temporarily Suspends Restrictions On Medicaid-Funded Abortions

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has temporarily suspended a regulation that would have restricted women who qualify for Medicaid funded abortions.

The regulation went into effect over the weekend. It requires doctors to fill out a new form certifying the woman seeking a Medicaid-funded abortion is in imminent danger of medical impairment of a major bodily function.

The regulation was introduced in August by Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Streur.

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the state last Wednesday. They object to the state narrowing the definition of when an abortion is medically necessary.

Judge John Suddock can issue a Preliminary Injunction suspending the regulation for a longer period of time if the court case is not settled quickly.

Governor Parnell Calls For Education Reform

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Anchorage

Governor Sean Parnell is calling on the Legislature to take on education reform. And as part of that, he wants lawmakers to advance “SJR 9.” The controversial resolution is the first step in amending the state Constitution so public funds can be spent at private schools.

Over the last two days, more than 100 people weighed in before the Legislature on that prospect.

Division of Elections Verifies Signatures On Marijuana Initiative

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

A measure that would regulate marijuana like alcohol has enough signatures to appear on the ballot. Today, the Alaska Division of Elections verified that more than 31,000 of the signatures submitted come from registered voters.

The lieutenant governor is expected to certify the initiative this month.

If the marijuana initiative is successful, Alaska will be one of the first states in the country to effectively legalize the drug.

Richardson Highway To Reopen Wednesday

Tony Gorman, KCHU – Valdez

After nearly two weeks, the Alaska Department of Transportation says the Richardson Highway in the Keystone Canyon area could reopen as soon as Wednesday.

Board Of Fish Meetings Continue

Shaylon Cochran, KDLL – Kenai

The state Board of Fisheries continued its Upper Cook Inlet meeting Tuesday. Much of the day was devoted to Kenai River king salmon issues, but the Board began the day by taking a step back.

Keith Hackett Settles In As UAA’s Athletic Director

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

The University of Alaska Anchorage’s new athletic director, Keith Hackett, wrapped up his first 100 days on the job last month. He’s finished his first Great Alaska Shootout and watched cross country running and volleyball cap off successful seasons. But he says there is still work to be done.

APU Coach Finds His Own Recipe For International Success

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Most Alaskans know who Olympic skier Kikkan Randall is. But can you name her Alaskan Pacific University coach? His name is Erik Flora. He’s a workaholic who is enthusiastic, passionate and motivated. And he deserves more than a little credit for the dramatic turn around the U.S. cross country ski team has managed in the last decade.

Top Three Mushers Strategize As They Come And Go From Eagle

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The top three Yukon Quest teams arrived in Eagle in the wee hours of Monday morning, well ahead of schedule.  It was clear as they relayed their tales that teams are starting to strategize as they near the half-way mark in this year’s race.

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