Alaska News Nightly: Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015

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Fairbanks Four released after judge approves settlement

The Associated Press
A Superior Court Judge has approved a settlement that throws out the indictments and murder convictions of the Fairbanks Four — George Frese, Kevin Pease, Marvin Roberts and Eugene Vent — in the 1997 beating death of teenager John Hartman, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported late Thursday afternoon.

Governor’s budget proposes major changes to oil tax credits

Rachel Waldholz, APRN-Anchorage
Governor Bill Walker’s budget proposal, rolled out last week, includes taxes on everything from fishing to mining to tourism to gasoline, alcohol and tobacco;  plus, of course, the first income tax in Alaska in 35 years. It also includes cuts to popular programs like home heating assistance, pre-K grants, winter road maintenance and — yes — the PFD. But one reason the cuts aren’t deeper and the taxes aren’t steeper is because the governor’s budget also gets about half a billion dollars from the oil and gas industry.

BlueCrest still considering gas development

Quinton Chandler – KBBI, Homer
BlueCrest Energy plans to drill for oil in Cook Inlet’s Cosmopolitan oil fields from the shore just north of Anchor Point. There is also a chance the company will place a rig in the water to drill for natural gas. But debate over the state’s tax credits is making BlueCrest hesitate.

Murkowski claims several Alaska victories in year-end spending, tax bills

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage
Congress has agreed on a year-end spending and tax package, though the final votes in the House and Senate have yet to be taken. The legislation sets federal funding levels for the next year and extends several tax breaks. Senator Lisa Murkowski played a major role in crafting the final deal. She says Alaska can claim a number of victories, including provisions pertaining to national defense, veterans benefits, and language mandating the labeling of genetically-engineered salmon.

Judge sets trial date for campaign contributions case

A federal judge has set an April trial date in a case that could affect state campaign contributions limits in Alaska. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess said the trial is estimated to take five days. It is scheduled to start April 25th, about four months before the state’s primary elections.

Whistleblower alleges corruption in LIO court case

Zachariah Hughes, KSKA-Anchorage
The State court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a case involving the contentious lease on the Legislative Information Office in downtown Anchorage.

National report: African-American students lag behind their peers

Robert Hannon, KUAC-Fairbanks
The National Chamber of Commerce says African-American students still lag significantly behind their peers. A study it conducted in collaboration with the NAACP covered every state in the United States. But the study’s results for Alaska may be flawed.

Fish, game boards hear public testimony on budget cuts

Molly Dischner, KDLG – Dillingham
While Alaska’s governor was unveiling his budget proposal on Dec. 9, the state Boards of Fisheries and Game were grappling with how to accommodate future budget cuts. The board support component of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game faces a budget shortfall this year, and is looking for ways to make the additional cuts that are expected in the years to come.

Ruth Ann’s, Craig landmark burns down

Maria Dudzak, KRBD-Ketchikan
Ruth Ann’s restaurant, a Craig landmark, burned down early Thursday morning. According to a press release issued by Craig Police Chief R.J Ely the fire was first reported at about 2:40 am. Fire personnel responded within minutes and found the building completely engulfed in flames. All occupants of that and nearby buildings were safely evacuated.

Salvation Army says more families need holiday help

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska-Juneau
It’s been a hard year for some Alaskans. Salvation Army branches around the state report significantly more requests for holiday assistance than last year.

Popular Wrangell artist opens store

Katarina Sostaric, KSTK – Wrangell
A Wrangell artist who creates fused glass artwork and jewelry has been a fixture at community markets and bazaars in town. But this December, Magpie and Squid owner Kris Reed decided to open a store for just one month to sell her artwork and teach art classes.


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